CALGARY CAPTURED: ENGAGING CALGARIANS IN URBAN WILDLIFE MONITORINGCategory: 2019, Current, Grant, Land Use, Major Project
Calgary is well known for its park system, which makes up over 70km2 of land. Additionally, the system is enhanced by Fish Creek Provincial Park, a 13km2 park extending east from city limits to the confluence of Fish Creek and the Bow River. These urban parks are connected by riparian corridors enabling wildlife to move around the city. Wildlife connectivity is important for maintaining biodiversity and fragmentation of these areas due to urban growth is an ever-increasing threat to maintaining wildlife. Limited information regarding the species that inhabit our city and urban parks reduces our ability to support healthy wildlife populations.
Calgary Captured, a multi-year wildlife monitoring program in partnership with the Miistakis Institute, The City of Calgary, Alberta Environment and Parks, Friends of Fish Creek Provincial Park Society, and the Glenmore/Weaselhead Park Preservation Society will determine wildlife presence within Calgary to inform our understanding and management of urban wildlife. The results of this analysis will help meet ecological goals set in Our BiodiverCity, Calgary’s 10-year Biodiversity Strategic Plan (2015), and inform Natural Areas Park Management Plan as well as individual park management. It’s recognized that support of Calgarians is necessary to advocate for and support decisions that promote healthy wildlife populations. Although Calgary has an extensive park system, residents of large cities are less likely to spend time outdoors, which can shape the belief that nature lies only outside of urban areas. Calgary Captured offers a way for Calgarians to reconnect to nature in Calgary, building a community of citizens that value the protection of wildlife and healthy ecosystems.
Images from sixty-two cameras are collected regularly; screened for humans; and uploaded to a citizen science website, Zooniverse. To date, 3,248 volunteers (60% from Calgary) have participated to classify species found, highlighting Calgary Captured’s ability to reach a large audience while addressing an important need to classify thousands of images collected. Now that Calgary Captured has begun generating a dataset of urban wildlife, this project willexpand the program to investigate wildlife corridors between Parks. Using a model developed by City of Calgary that prioritized wildlife corridors, two locations have been selected; Ricardo Ranch (SE); and Rockland Park (NW). The camera will increase the understanding of use within these urban wildlife corridors and assess changes to species detection before and after new developments. Ultimately, the information provided though Calgary Captured could lead to decision making that supports biological conservation in Calgary.
Short term results include the successful completion of a multi-year dataset for wildlife presence in Calgary Parks, as well as establishing a dataset to increase knowledge on wildlife movement between Parks. This will also include the expansion of citizen science involvement through online classification of images, as well as the smaller subset of citizen scientists that volunteer with camera maintenance through Friends of Fish Creek.