No notes from the field

This is the first spring in over a decade that we won’t be heading north to the field.

Three Raincoast fieldworkers stand on the beach around their boat on a sunny day with mountains in the background, on Heiltsuk territory.

Field crew members Ilona Mihalik, Kyle Artelle, and Howard Humchitt. Photo by April Bencze / Raincoast Conservation Foundation.

For the last 10-plus years, and as we’ve highlighted previously, March and April are usually busy with preparations for the annual bear monitoring field work in the Raincoast Applied Conservation Science (ACS) Lab. Typically, desks pile up with field gear, and any spare time is spent labelling thousands of envelopes. Days are often spent tracking down elusive, yet critical, field supplies from various stores and distributors (such as specific boat antennae, rolls of barbed-wire, fencing tools, and many gallons of fish oil non-reward bait).1

Spring this year, however, is much quieter. With the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) affecting normalcy around the world, we, along with our Coastal First Nation colleagues, have decided to cancel the field work this season. This decision was made following announcements by many Coastal First Nations to close their Territories to outside visitors in order to prevent the spread of the virus within their communities. 

Although this is the first spring in over a decade where we won’t be headed north to join our colleagues and friends in sampling, an experience we look forward to each year, the risk of contagion weighs heavily. Instead, we will maintain virtual connection, support from afar, and hope for updates on bears emerging from hibernation via photos and videos from local people. For the time being, memories and laughs from previous seasons will fill our hearts. And we look forward to unexpected opportunities to work on some interesting and important analyses. 

Until next season!