Nature Conservancy of Canada project tracks wildlife near New Brunswick/Nova Scotia border
Volunteers can help by using mobile app
The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC), along with its partners and volunteers, is tracking wildlife sightings near the New Brunswick/Nova Scotia border. The border is a busy transportation hub and critical wildlife corridor. NCC is launching the “WildPaths Maritimes” project, in partnership with the New Brunswick Department of Transportation and Infrastructure, the Atlantic Wildlife Institute and Dalhousie University, to enhance conservation and improve safety for both wildlife and people in the border area.
One of the goals of the project is to identify sections of highways that present the greatest barriers to wildlife. To assist the project, NCC is seeking volunteers wishing to become citizen scientists by taking photos and documenting wildlife using the iNaturalist mobile app. The app allows observers to record wildlife species, the location of wildlife and other valuable information and add it to a database.
“We are inviting anyone who is concerned about wildlife to download iNaturalist, search for the WildPaths Maritimes project and record wildlife sightings,” says Paula Noel, New Brunswick program director with the Nature Conservancy of Canada. “Wildlife sightings are often random, and until recently have been difficult to document. This app is easy to use, and the information people send in will help improve conservation for wildlife.”
The launch of the WildPaths Maritimes project is the latest step in NCC's ongoing conservation work on the Chignecto Isthmus. The 23 kilometre-wide connection between Nova Scotia and New Brunswick is one of the most critical wildlife habitats in the Maritimes. NCC has protected 3,000 acres (1,214 hectares) of land here, and has future projects planned, to help secure a permanent wilderness corridor for wildlife in the region.
Other organizations working to conserve forested land in the Chignecto Isthmus include provincial and federal agencies, Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, Community Forests International, Cumberland Wilderness and the Atlantic Wildlife Institute.
“The Atlantic Wildlife Institute is pleased to partner with NCC’s WildPaths Maritimes project. We feel it is necessary to document wildlife activity and find ways to help protect wild spaces that will allow our native species to freely move within their ranges,” says Pam Novak, director of Wildlife Care at Atlantic Wildlife Institute. “Without appropriate natural spaces for breeding, foraging and migration stop overs, wildlife and environmental health will deteriorate.”
Protecting a wilderness corridor and habitat connectivity on the Chignecto Isthmus is essential to allow healthy renewal of populations, especially with greater migration expected due to climate change. If the narrow border area is further fragmented by roads and development, wildlife populations in Nova Scotia will decline over the long term due to isolation from other populations in eastern North America.
As part of the WildPaths project, Dalhousie University researchers are conducting detailed surveys on foot and by car along Highways 15, 16, 134 in New Brunswick, and Highways 104, 366, 6, 204 in Nova Scotia. The research will help identify where wildlife are most frequently interacting with roads and where solutions such as wildlife tunnels may be helpful.
The results submitted by Dalhousie researchers and volunteers will also be used to identify key areas for conservation. Anyone wishing to volunteer with the WildPaths Maritimes project on the Chignecto Isthmus is encouraged to contact NCC's Fredericton office at 1-877-231-4400.
The WildPaths project has received funding from the New Brunswick Wildlife Trust Fund and the Nova Scotia Habitat Conservation Fund.
Link to the project in iNaturalist: https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/wildpaths-maritimes
WildPaths Maritimes is modelled on WildPaths Vermont, a program of Cold Hollow to Canada; a Staying Connected Initiative (SCI) Partner. SCI is a network of people and organizations working to conserve, restore and enhance landscape connectivity across the Northern Appalachian/Acadian region of the United States and Canada.
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