2020-21 SCARF project summary

Five applications were received for the 2020/21 fiscal year. Four projects were awarded funding. Descriptions of approved projects are provided below.

Wood Bison Education and Awareness

Project lead: Ecology North

Species at risk focus: Wood bison

Purpose: The goal of this project is to promote further cultural awareness of Wood Bison and their status as Threatened. In particular, the project will focus on education and awareness of the risks that the species is facing, ongoing recovery strategy methods, and the ways in which Wood Bison are beneficial to people, the economy, and their environment. The target audience for this project will be school-aged children, their teachers, and educators - particularly in Behchoko and Zhahti Kue (Fort Providence). We also hope to reach members of the general NWT public.

Willow Creek Hike

Project lead: Moose Kerr School

Species at risk focus: Various

Purpose: The goal of this project is to teach grade 4/5 students about species at risk in the Gwich'ln Settlement Area. Students will learn to be aware of species at risk that need future leaders to preserve their ecosystems and habitats while gaining knowledge and understanding that can be shared with others within the community. Grade 4/5 students will be taken on a trip to Willow Creek near the Richardson Mountains. Before this trip, students will have an in-class lesson on species at risk by the teacher then go out to Willow Creek with an elder/guide to learn about the preservation of species and its importance for their future, as well as the Gwich'in/lnuvlaluit cultures. We hope they appreciate this lesson and motivate them to continue to dialogue the need for stewardship of animals, water and land.

Community-led Species At Risk Detection: eDNA Sampling in Traditionally Important Water Bodies of the North Slave Region

Project lead: North Slave Metis Alliance (NSMA)

Species at risk focus: Various

Purpose: Environmental DNA (eDNA) is a new and emerging tool for the conservation of biodiversity. Compared to traditional capture methods, eDNA collection is simple, non-invasive, inexpensive, and does not require a permit. The presence or absence of a species in an area is determined from the genetic material in an easy-to-obtain environmental sample (water, sediment, soil, etc.). Thus, eDNA is especially useful for detecting rare and/or cryptic Species at Risk (SAR), which may be missed by visual or capture-based surveys. The objectives of this project are to 1) increase capacity within Indigenous organizations for community-based monitoring and training in environmental sciences, monitoring and conservation; 2) contribute to data poor areas of the Northwest Territories on Species At Risk research and knowledge; 3) “braid” western science and traditional knowledge in Species At Risk research, and 4) build upon the baseline pilot data collected in summer of 2019, including conducting water quality assessments.

Developing Community Based Non-Invasive Techniques to Monitor Polar Bears

Project lead: Olokhaktomiut Hunters and Trappers Committee

Species at risk focus: Polar bears

Purpose: This project fits well into actions identified in the ISR Polar Bear Management Plan. There is additional scientific work happening including a rotary DNA mark-recapture in spring 2019 to 2022 (ENR lead with community support). The BEARWATCH program, led by Queen's University, is working to develop a non-invasive toolkit to monitor polar bear health using community observations, collections of fecal samples, and potential identification of individual bears from eDNA in snow tracks.

Develop non-invasive techniques for monitoring polar bears in the ISR and educational materials for use in the communities including:

  • Hold public meeting to talk about the use of DNA in monitoring polar bears and work to develop community based program;
  • Pilot to collect eDNA from polar bear tracks;
  • Collect polar bear fecal samples and polar bear hair for DNA identification;
  • Create educational materials about sex identification of bears.