EcoHealth

, Volume 6, Issue 2, pp 266–278 | Cite as

Fostering Community-Based Wildlife Health Monitoring and Research in the Canadian North

  • Ryan K. Brook
  • Susan J. Kutz
  • Alasdair M. Veitch
  • Richard A. Popko
  • Brett T. Elkin
  • Glen Guthrie
Original Contribution

Abstract

Many northern Canadians have continued a subsistence lifestyle of wildlife harvesting and, therefore, value sustainable wildlife populations. At a regional wildlife workshop in the Sahtu Settlement Area, Northwest Territories in 2002, elders and community leaders raised concerns regarding wildlife health, food safety, and the effects of climate change on wildlife. They requested that efforts be put toward training youth in science and increasing involvement of hunters and youth in wildlife research. In response, we initiated a long-term, integrated approach to foster community-based wildlife health monitoring and research. Annual trips were made to all schools in the Sahtu from 2003 to 2009 to provide hands-on learning for 250–460 students on a range of wildlife topics. In addition, interviews were conducted with 31 hunters and elders to document their local ecological knowledge of wildlife health and local hunters were trained as monitors to collect tissue samples and measurements to assess body condition and monitor health of harvested caribou (n = 69) and moose (n = 19). In 2007 the program was extended to include participation in the annual caribou hunt held by one community. Each year since 2005, a graduate student and/or a postdoctoral trainee in the veterinary or biological sciences has participated in the program. The program has evolved during the last 6 years in response to community and school input, results of empirical research, hunter feedback, local knowledge, and logistical constraints. The continuity of the program is attributed to the energetic collaboration among diverse partners and a unified approach that responds to identified needs.

Key words

wildlife health community-based monitoring youth education local ecological knowledge collaboration disease parasites 

Notes

Acknowledgments

We thank the many people in the Sahtu Settlement Region who kindly shared their time and expertise with us, particularly the wildlife health monitors: B. Kenny, C. Yukon, R. Kochon, J. Kochon, W. Jackson, M. Jackson, J. & C. Rabisca, the participants of the Horton Lake harvest in 2007 and 2008, as well as A. M. Jackson, and the teachers and principals in the local schools. Thanks also to the graduate students who have meaningfully participated in the Sahtu tour over the years. Financial and logistical support was provided by the Sahtu Renewable Resources Board, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada PromoScience, Environment and Natural Resources Department (Government of the Northwest Territories), Enbridge Pipelines Ltd, the Northwest Territories Cumulative Impacts Monitoring Program, Climate Change Action Fund (Natural Resources Canada), the Canadian Cooperative Wildlife Health Centre, Veterinarians Without Borders, the Western College of Veterinary Medicine University of Saskatchewan, and the University of Calgary Faculty of Veterinary Medicine.

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Copyright information

© International Association for Ecology and Health 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ryan K. Brook
    • 1
    • 2
  • Susan J. Kutz
    • 1
  • Alasdair M. Veitch
    • 3
  • Richard A. Popko
    • 3
  • Brett T. Elkin
    • 4
  • Glen Guthrie
    • 5
  1. 1.Faculty of Veterinary MedicineUniversity of CalgaryCalgaryCanada
  2. 2.Faculty of MedicineUniversity of CalgaryCalgaryCanada
  3. 3.Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Sahtu RegionGovernment of the Northwest TerritoriesNorman WellsCanada
  4. 4.Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Wildlife & FisheriesGovernment of the Northwest TerritoriesYellowknifeCanada
  5. 5.Sahtu Renewable Resources BoardNorman WellsCanada

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