Saskatoon Joins Intl Wildlife Habitats Project

by Jennifer Smith May 24, 2019

Saskatoon is now the second Canadian city to join an international research project to understand wildlife living in urban settings.

“It means we can pool our information with other cities, and we can broaden our understanding of how urban habitats work,” said Candace Savage, chair of Wild About Saskatoon.

“We’re just going to learn more by working with others. We’re not having to invent a new method to do these things; we’re able to take advantage of what other cities have learned.”

The Urban Wildlife Information Network began at the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago, and now has 21 partner cities across North America, including two Canadian cities, Saskatoon and Edmonton.

Eventually, the goal is to be able to study wildlife living in cities all over the world.

“The immediate goal is to be able to compare the wildlife communities between cities and across regions or even across countries,” said Maureen Murray, a wildlife disease ecologist at the Lincoln Park Zoo.

“But the more general goal is to just learn how urbanization impacts wildlife persistence, wildlife behaviour and wildlife communities, so that we can conserve urban biodiversity and minimize human and wildlife conflict.”

Each city will use motion sensitive wildlife cameras, which detect different kinds of wildlife that use the monitored urban habitats.

To look at how urbanization affects wildlife communities more generally, Murray said they study animals at sites “ranging from the downtown core, all the way out to suburban and rural areas.”

In its own way, a city is a very wild place, and “no matter what we do, there are going to be birds and animals in the city,” Savage said.

“Some of them are going to be easy to live with and bring us nothing but delight; others are going to be more challenging — so we need to be thinking about how to make the best accommodations we can with other creatures.” Reported from the Saskatoon Star Phoenix.

Jennifer Smith
Jennifer Smith