A howling experience! Citizen science wolf survey Q&As

August 15, 2022

Earthroots launched the Ontario Wolf Survey project in 2016 to help fill in gaps in the survey effort across Ontario. This past winter marked our first season back in the field post COVID and we could not be happier with the results.

We sat down with one of our dedicated citizen scientists to ask questions about their experience being a part of this project. Here are the answers:

1. What was the overall experience like being a part of this project?

This particular project for me has felt very rewarding, particularly this year as the first year I volunteered, Covid unfortunately prevented the testing of our samples collected. I have found the communication with the project leaders really positive and encouraging.  The information provided, along with the test kits and instruction, has been clear with any questions asked answered promptly

2. How did you feel while you were out sampling?

Having a purpose during our winter hikes in this uniquely wild and beautiful part of Ontario is incredibly inspiring and motivating. There is always the thrill of a possible find; fresh tracks and a promising sample to collect. My partner has also come on board with me and he is a great tracker! We both really enjoy our search time out together.

3. Why did you want to be involved in this project?

I have always had a passionate love of wildlife and interest in their preservation. A few years ago, I came across Cheryl Alexander’s amazing and heartfelt story of Takaya, the lone wolf that lived on some small islands off the coast of Victoria and have since learned much about wolves and their need for protection. So when I learned of the Earthroots program to help our threatened Eastern wolves in this area, I was so happy to be able to play apart.

4. Why do you think citizen science is so important?

I believe citizen science is so important as it allows for the collection of data or samples from a much larger geographical area than would otherwise be possible. Environmental and wildlife organizations are often working against great odds and face many challenging situations in order to encourage change, with limited funds and help. There is much that I believe citizen scientists can help do to alleviate some of that struggle.

5. What have you learned from being involved in this project?

This organization has helped me learn the true story of the wolf. Their intelligence, organizational skills, affection for one another and commitment to their family hierarchies. But above all, their ultimate importance as an apex predator in the balance of their natural environment, including the maintenance of their prey species population numbers. And that they desperately need our help.

6. What would you tell someone who is considering being a part of this project next season?

I would say to anyone willing to help with this project that to volunteer on the behalf of these beautiful creatures, is not only beneficial for them, it is ultimately beneficial for us all! And the more samples that are submitted and test positive for the Eastern wolf, the greater their chance of protection will be!

7. Will you be a part of this project next season? If yes, what are you most excited about?

Yes, I definitely plan to volunteer again next season, and hopefully there will be just a little less snow to allow for venturing out a little further! I am really excited about finding more scat samples to submit.  We have our neighbours on the lookout for us too and I feel with time, we are becoming more adept at knowing what to look for and how to track.

Photo by one of Earthroots' citizen scientists, Christina Emond

On behalf of the Earthroots team, we would like to give a special shoutout to our amazing group of citizen scientists. This project wouldn’t have been possible without their hard work and dedication. Thank you all so much!

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