We're now in our 3rd year delivering education and raising awareness about wildlife-vehicle collisions and prevention in Nova Scotia, and over the last few months a lot has happened - including expanding into New Brunswick.
But before I get into the update, a reminder about what Watch for Wildlife is about. This issue is difficult and complicated, from every angle - and it's hard to work on. It's understandable why most of us don't want to think too much about it. A staggering amount of collisions with wildlife occur every hour of every year (with trains, planes, automobiles, ships, ATVs ... ), and the impacts - on people and wildlife, our economy, our cultural well being, injury and mortality of people and wildlife, the weight placed on wildlife rescues, the insurmountable loss of biodiversity and even species - it can seem overwhelming.
But the problem won't go away by looking the other way, or hoping that it isn't as bad as it seems (that response hasn't worked so far), so we will continue to shine a light on the issue, and give people the tools to best prevent collisions and continue to remind that the road is not ours alone. Watch for Wildlife is bringing wildlife-vehicle collisions into clear view so we can get solutions rolling like building roads that consider road ecology, and create ways across and under the road so the wild creatures can get where they need to go - for the safety and survival of all of us.
So what's been happening with Watch for Wildlife, as the title promised? What follows is an update of our activities so far this year, and what we have planned for the rest of the 2018.
Part of our partnership with Lush means they will host two Awareness Events with Watch for Wildlife over the next month in their stores in Dartmouth and Halifax. One happened on July 21st, and was an excellent opportunity to talk to people and staff about the program, and how they can help. We gave out over 50 brochures and bumper magnets to people coming through, and a second event is planned for the Halifax store on August 11th.
Rebekah, Manager at the Lush Store in Mic Mac Mall with Wanda Baxter, Program Manager at the Watch for Wildlife Awareness Event on July 21st.
Due to the support from both the AWFC and Lush, we have been able to hire an Outreach Coordinator for New Brunswick, and the New Brunswick program launched the week of July 14th in Fredericton! We have also been able to have the French brochure and sections of the Watch for Wildlife website translated so the program will now be accessible in both our official languages.
Activities and Outreach of Watch for Wildlife - (so far) include:
- Distributing hundreds of bumper magnets Watch for Wildlife driving advocates. Our target is to distribute 2000 in both Nova Scotia and New Brunswick this year.
- Distributing brochures to relevant locations and outlets including:
Shubenacadie Wildlife Centre, Wildlife Rescues (Cobequid Animal Rehab, Hope for Wildlife and Atlantic Wildlife Institute), tourism locations across Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, RCMP detachments, directly to people at events and locations including: Adopt a Highway Volunteer Training Session; Helping Nature Heal store and to customers across the province; Farmers Markets in both provinces; Museums, Hotels and Stores; Lush Charity Pot awareness events (MicMac Mall and Halifax Shopping Centre), Ecology Action Center, Hope for Wildlife Open House, Lunenburg Folk Festival, Deep Roots Festival (Wolfville), Digby and Yarmouth ferry terminals, Professional Development Days for teachers, and others.
- Inclusion of Watch for Wildlife information on the Official 2018 Nova Scotia Tourism map. Tens of thousands of Nova Scotia maps are printed and distributed to tourists and drivers throughout Nova Scotia. We are glad to have Watch for Wildlife information included on the map again this year.
- We recruited and trained a new outreach coordinator, Kristin Elton, to head the New Brunswick expansion of Watch for Wildlife and she has been doing a fantastic job so far. The NB brochure has been developed, the French brochure translated and prepared, and a Watch for Wildlife display unit for events and presentations has been created (download the NB brochure below or on the main Watch for Wildlife website).
- On the weekend of July 14th the New Brunswick program expansion kicked off with Kristin appearing at the Boyce Market in Fredericton, doing interviews with CBC Radio and Global TV, and participating in the Falls Brook Festival.
All program expansion activities went extremely well, and there is a lot of interest in the program and collision prevention education from the general public and local authorities including DNR and the Fredericton police.
- Media coverage (links at bottom), Regular Blog posts and social media outreach. Appearances on a number of television programs (CTV, GlobalTV) re: wildlife vehicle collision prevention, road safety and the program.
- Growing a network of supporters and ‘Community Champions’ that help with outreach for the program that includes wildlife habitat researchers at Dalhousie University, the NovaTrac group, Nova Scotia Naturalists, Shubenacadie Wildlife Park, Hope for Wildlife, Cobequid Wildlife Rehab, Helping Nature Heal, Adopt A Highway NS, South Shore Wildlife Association, New Brunswick Environmental Network, the RCMP, Riverview Parks and Recreation, Animal Wildlife Institute.
- Participation in Webinars hosted by the Two Countries One Forest Initiative (September). The Two Countries One Forest Habitat Connectivity Project is a regional effort to identify and protect wildlife corridors and reduce injury and mortality of wildlife – especially from road building and wildlife-vehicle collisions. Participating in the webinars helps to grow our network of influence, and build connections with this regional effort.
- INaturalist Watch for Wildlife Collision Tracking Project. Our burgeoning citizen science collision tracking project continues to grow, and has a key contributor (Amelia Barnes) who is doing her Masters research on wildlife collision tracking and analysis on part of the Cobequid pass. The project is here: https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/watch-for-wildlife-wildlife-vehicle-collision-tracking
Website and social media:
We would love to have more followers on Twitter and Facebook, and more contributors to the INaturalist Collision Tracking Project. Please get in touch if you have questions. suggestions, or if you are interested in getting involved with Watch for Wildlife as a volunteer or a Community Champion, and please follow us on social media.
Daily Gleanerinterview with Wanda Baxter re: spike in wildlife vehicle collisions (behind paywall – see attachment):
CBC Shift: Watch for Wildlife is expanding to New Brunswick
Global TV: Watch for Wildlife launches in NB
CTV Atlantic News
What to do if you see wildlife on the road (wildlife-vehicle collision prevention advice)
We have a lot more to do this year with Watch for Wildlife. Get in touch for your bumper magnet and program brochure - in English or French. If you want us to present at your event or in a class, or if you have concerns about wildlife collisions in your area, again, get in touch. And drive aware.