Heralded by the song of the varied thrush, April comes to an end and a renewed energy fills Raincoast’s Applied Conservation Science (ACS) Lab at the University of Victoria. With spring comes organized chaos as graduate students and research associates transition from laboratory work, data analysis and writing, to a flurry of preparation for an upcoming season of monitoring bears on the central coast of British Columbia.
We are headed to Gitga’at, Heiltsuk, Kitasoo/Xai’xais, Nuxalk and Wuikinuxv Territories to join our First Nations colleagues for another field season. Our long-term monitoring of grizzly and black bears combines traditional ecological knowledge with cutting-edge science to address conservation issues. Before embarking, ACS lab members come together to assemble required materials and coordinate day-to-day field season logistics.
The lab is overflowing with totes of research equipment, which piles up on any open surfaces unoccupied by other ACS graduate students preparing for the field. Desks are suddenly heavily laden with stacks of data forms, VHF radios and “Caution – Bear Research In Progress” signs. Boxes of non-perishable food create a maze on the floor.
Our nights are spent placing labels on thousands of envelopes. These envelopes will soon be filled with grizzly and black bear hair, collected in collaboration with our First Nations partners. Afternoons are spent mixing concoctions of non-reward, scented bait, which lures bears to our non-invasive hair snag sites. Soon we will be knee-deep in mud and skunk cabbage, while dodging devil’s club and mosquitos to collect bear hair samples, which yield high quality genetic, hormonal and isotopic data.
Gearing up for field season takes months of planning and a few weeks of chaotic packing. “Many hands make light work” and “Teamwork makes the dream work” have been common phrases lately. With another field season on the horizon, we look forward to joining our friends on the central coast to continue safeguarding the lands and waters of the Great Bear Rainforest.
Kate Field, Ilona Mihalik and Lauren Henson are graduate students and research associates at the Raincoast Applied Conservation Lab.
Our monthly donors make these research and conservation efforts possible – can you join us?
Become a Raincoaster
Giving to Raincoast enables you to protect what you love most.
For 25 years, Raincoast has been furthering biodiversity conservation in BC. Thanks to your generous donations, among many other accomplishments, we have been able to end commercial trophy hunting of large carnivores in over 38,000 square kilometers of the Great Bear Rainforest, begin acquiring forest land in order to protect threatened Coastal Douglas-fir ecosystems, aid recovery of endangered Southern Resident killer whales by restoring Chinook salmon habitat, and establish a university research lab dedicated to applied conservation science. Strong partnerships are integral to our success.
Our efforts need to be maintained and advanced, now more than ever. As the biodiversity and climate crises collide, your support allows us to continue to make tangible conservation gains.
Biodiversity protection is the most important gift we can give the next generation. Join us as a Raincoaster today!