- Other Projects
International Polar Year Report
The CCWHC has been linked to 3 International Polar Year (IPY) projects since IPY's official launch in
March of 2007. The first project entitled "Resilience of Caribou and Reindeer Populations: Validation
and Application of the Filter Paper Technique to Assess Exposure to Pathogens" continues to evaluate
the use of filter paper blood collection as a method of community-based monitoring of caribou health
across the Canadian North. The second project "Starting the clock for the CircumArctic Rangifer
Monitoring and Assessment Network (CARMA): Global Change, Resilience and Human-Rangifer Systems of
the CircumArctic" is an international, multidisciplinary project to establish the current status of
human-Rangifer systems and to evaluate the resilience of these systems. The third project, "Engaging
Communities in the Monitoring of Zoonoses, Country Food Safety, and Wildlife Health," is led by the
Nunavik Research Centre in Kuujjuaq, Quebec, and focuses on 5 main zoonotic pathogens in arctic wildlife.
These projects are empowering communities to test their own food and communicate the results locally,
and to carry out general surveillance of wildlife health and disease. Educational materials have been
developed, including a hunter training video, the Rangifer Anatomy Project, which integrates scientific
and traditional knowledge of caribou, local school programs, and hands-on experience with integrating
local-scale observations, sample collection and science-based monitoring. In addition to local educational
programs and materials, the projects have provided opportunities for graduate and undergraduate training
and projects among several Universities.
The projects continue to examine the diversity of pathogens and the effects of climate change on caribou
and northern wildlife species and to examine the relationship of this information to the overall health
of the animal and human populations.
Raccoon Rabies in Quebec
In conjunction with the government of Quebec and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, the CCWHC is
involved in a surveillance program designed to detect and monitor the spread of the raccoon rabies
virus variant in the province of Quebec.
Several rabid raccoons and striped skunks have been detected as a result of this program.
Results of this surveillance programme have helped to target areas for control measures such as rabies
vector density reductions and vaccination programs involving wild raccoons. In addition, public prevention
campaigns can be directed toward regions where this zoonosis is most prevalent.
Epidemic Diseases in Double-crested Cormorants
A long-term study of epidemic diseases on one very large colony of Double-crested Cormorants in the
southern boreal forest of Saskatchewan has been carried out by the CCWHC since 1994. The colony has
varied in size from 11,000 to 4,000 nesting pairs during the study, with an average of 7,300 nesting
pairs. Large-scale epidemic mortality, which killed 30-60% of fledglings, occurred in late summer on
the colony in 11 of the 16 years of this study, with the frequency of epidemics increasing with time.
Two very different diseases have been responsible for these epidemics: Newcastle Disease, a viral
disease important to poultry, and Avian Cholera, a bacterial disease which affects many different wild
bird species. Monitoring continues in order to learn what effect such high annual mortality may have
on the colony in the long term.
Measures of Long-term Stress and Ecosystem Health
Resource managers must understand the impacts of human-caused landscape change on
wildlife populations in order to make informed decisions concerning resource utilization and
conservation. This research project is determining relationships between landscape structure
and change, and the health of grizzly bear populations in the Rocky Mountain foothills to
inform and enable management of the landscape. The working hypothesis is that negative
effects of landscape change on grizzly bear populations arise largely as a consequence of
long-term physiological stress in individual bears. Understanding the underlying mechanisms is critical for resource managers to ensure the conservation of this species at risk. Research
objectives are to: (1) enhance geospatial tools for the monitoring of landscape structure, with
particular emphasis on detecting changes likely to cause adverse health effects to resident
grizzly bears, (2) develop a technique for detecting long-term physiological stress in grizzly
bears, (3) determine relationships between long-term physiological stress and other measures
of health (longevity, growth, reproduction, immunity, and activity) in grizzly bears, and (4)
establish linkages between the health profiles of individual grizzly bears and the landscape
structure and change within their home ranges along a gradient of human use. Detailed
maps linking landscape structure with grizzly bear occurrence and health are being
developed. Combined with predictive models of the effects of landscape change, these
maps will provide resource managers with a better understanding of grizzly bear health and
resource selection, and grizzly bear response to human activities in order to implement
appropriate land management decision-making. Although this research concentrates on a
single species and its environment, the significance and application of the research is much
broader. The research team is pioneering a new approach to evaluating and monitoring the
effects of landscape change on wildlife population health. Both the approach and the tools
being developed hold promise for future application to other species at risk and, more
generally, better conservation of wildlife populations.
Rangifer Anatomy Project
The Rangifer Anatomy Project began in 2008, building on our long-term work with northern
hunters and government biologists in the Northwest Territories. We are integrating scientific
information with the traditional knowledge of elders and hunters from northern communities to view caribou
anatomy through their eyes. This interaction will enable the scientists to share their knowledge, obtain
insight into the user needs, and will also provide opportunities to gather information on traditional
uses of caribou from participating Dene, Inuit, Cree, and Métis hunters, youth, and elders. Communication
of the results will be done in both web-based and print forms designed for scientists, students, youth,
The project is funded by the CircumArctic Rangifer Monitoring and Assessment Network, the Nasivvik Centre for Inuit Health and Changing Environments, Natural Science and Engineering Council of Canada PromoScience, and the UCVM Department of Ecosystem and Public Health.
Nova Scotia Moose Recovery Program
In 2003, the Eastern moose (Alces alces americana) on mainland Nova
Scotia was declared an endangered species under the Nova Scotia
Endangered Species Act. The ability to evaluate potential factors limiting
this population is hindered by a lack of information, primarily in the
subject areas of genetic structure, health, illegal harvest, and habitat
suitability and fragmentation. The CCWHC is an active participant on the
recovery program, with the role of evaluating the moose population's health
and assessing the significance of disease in the population decline.
1. Health Assessment of Beluga Whales from the St. Lawrence Estuary
2. VHS on the Great Lakes
3. Wood Bison in NWT (Assessment of Disease Status of Bison in the MacKenzie Bison Sanctuary, NWT)
4. Black-footed Ferret Study, Grasslands National Park
5. Plague Mitigation Study, Grasslands National Park
6. White-nose Syndrome in bats