for Effective Conservation
Collaboration, science and citizen engagement are all key ways we work to solve conservation challenges across the landscape. In some areas, a critical issue is that roads impair animals’ ability to move, mate and feed. Last year, one example of progress resolving this connectivity problem in a novel way came from B.C.
There, people engaged in citizen science, using RoadWatchBC to monitor and count wildlife spotted along highways. The launch of this three-year-long project in June 2016 included a mobile app that allows passengers to log road kill and successful crossings while traveling. This information is used to prioritize the places mitigation measures, including crossing structures, are needed.
We collaborated on development of the app with Miistakis Institute and with local community to promote the use of the app on Highway 3. Because of the information logged on the app, along with aprevious report that prioritized 31 points with a high rate of wildlife-vehicle collisions along Alberta and B.C.’s Hwy 3, this major road is being made safer.
Pairing targeted communications and outreach with engagement of partners and local communities on this roadway over many years has persuaded the provincial government to work on solutions in two provinces. On Alberta’s Hwy 3, to help bighorn sheep cross the road, in September 2016 the provincial transportation department installed signage, fencing and wildlife jump-outs at Crowsnest Pass — a spot where 10 per cent of the province’s bighorn deaths occurred.
Y2Y is in a unique position to share tools, knowledge and approaches to similar problems across the entire region. For example, early success helped the use of RoadWatchBC spread south, where it is now being used to collect information for Idaho Fish and Game to evaluate mitigation measures. The app is also currently being presented for use elsewhere across the Yellowstone to Yukon region.
Such efforts will ultimately help decrease wildlife-vehicle collisions as well as associated injuries and insurance claims. The work will also help improve connectivity for wildlife such as bighorn sheep and grizzlies by providing state, provincial and federal transportation departments with key information to target where conservation actions need to be happening.
Another method proven to connect key populations of wildlife was demonstrated between three Y2Y priority areas — Central Canadian Rocky Mountains, the Cabinet-Purcell Mountain Corridor and the Crown of the Continent — and across the U.S.-Canada border.
Here, purchasing private land has been identified as a key strategy to restore connectivity. Last year we worked with Vital Ground to secure the option to buy private land slated for residential development near Troy, Montana. Data shows this is an important crossing point for grizzlies in the area. By linking and connecting isolated islands of grizzly bear populations, this work helps ensure the bears’ genetic diversity.
The Cabinet-Purcell Collaborative, established by Y2Y in 2006, is a trans-border network of more than 60 conservation and community groups, government agencies, scientists and individuals working together to connect and protect this vital corridor. This partnership is only possible thanks to support from key donors who understand how important it is to maintain the connectivity in this region both for wildlife and between organizations.
Just like our work with transportation, the sharing of data, tools and knowledge helps us address conservation problems. We’re already halfway to meeting the United States Fish and Wildlife target of 100 grizzlies in the area and increasing connectivity among bear populations. Here at Y2Y we are truly excited to support these types of collaborative efforts involving numerous other partners, funders and individual donors.
Reading the situation and being able to respond when needed is key. Whether that’s taking advantage of opportunities to improve trans-border habitat connectedness for grizzlies or knowing when to share important tools and information to improve road safety for wildlife and humans, timing is everything.