Beaver Hills Bioblitz

By Dee Patriquin

Alberta Chapter
Image Credit: Dave Hobson

Alberta Chapter of The Wildlife Society (ACTWS) biologists again played a key role in the success of the second annual Beaver Hills Bioblitz held January 18, 2015 at the Strathcona Wilderness Centre, in the heart of the Beaver Hills Moraine.

This event was inspired by a 2013 helicopter accident that led to the loss of a provincial government biologist and the pilot, and serious injury to another biologist. It aims to share our love of nature and raise awareness of the role of biologists in managing provincial wildlife and their habitat. Partnering with Nature Alberta’s Young Naturalists, the Strathcona Wilderness Centre and the Beaver Hills Initiative (BHI) on the event has resulted in a mutually beneficial collaboration that allows each organization to promote their respective initiatives.

This year the BHI used the Bioblitz to raise awareness and support for their application for UNESCO Biosphere Reserve status for the Beaver Hills Moraine. News coverage about the bid helped promote the Bioblitz and all partner organizations, as well as to collect supporting signatures for the nomination.

The popular event helps the public learn about radio-telemetry, winter tracking, wildlife cameras and wildlife ‘aches and pains’ from ACTWS volunteer biologists, and winter survival skills from Nature Alberta’s Young Naturalists. Interpretive talks about owls and beavers were very popular, as was a ‘field station’ wall tent with furs, skulls and the Nature Mystery box.

Eight students from the Augustana Campus of University of Alberta kicked off their citizen science winter tracking study with a training session and volunteer duties working with ACTWS biologists at the event. Their tracking study will provide a second year of data from the moraine and further test this citizen science program for the BHI as a monitoring and engagement tool for the future biosphere reserve. Volunteering with ACTWS biologists hopefully also sparked discussion and interest in a future wildlife career.

The Alberta Chapter of The Wildlife Society thanks our sponsors and volunteer biologists from Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development, Alberta Innovates Technology Futures, University of Alberta, and of course, our wonderful partners!

For more information on the ACTWS visit their website and Facebook.