A trail cam set up within the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve captured this image of a wolf. The Park Reserve is hoping to reduce conflicts with wolves and humans. (Photo - Pacific Rim National Park Reserve)

B.C. park reserve seeks ‘Poop Fairies’ for wolf conservation project

“It’s a pretty cool way to get involved in conservation in your area.”

The term ‘dirty job’ doesn’t quite do this one justice.

The Pacific Rim National Park Reserve is hoping to transform some of the West Coast’s least squeamish locals into ‘poop fairies’ to help monitor wolves on the West Coast.

Each valiant ‘poop fairy’ will be taught tracking techniques as well as to identify wolf scat and differentiate it from other predators’ feces as part of the uniquely hands-on citizen science project, according to Todd Windle, a resource management officer with the Park Reserve.

“It’s a great way to get outside and learn more about natural history while contributing to coexistence with wolves and a larger understanding collectively,” Windle told the Westerly News. “It’s a pretty cool way to get involved in conservation in your area.”

The Poop Fairy Program is part of the Park Reserve’s ongoing multi-year Wild About Wolves project designed to increase coexistence and decrease conflicts between humans and wolves both inside and outside the Park Reserve’s borders.

“We’re working across boundaries just like the wolves do,” he said.

READ MORE: Billboard erected between Tofino and Ucluelet shows wolf chewing on plastic bottle

Interested ‘poop fairies’ must be able to commit to at least one poo hunt per month for one year and they cautioned volunteers not to expect goldmines each time they search.

“We’d probably be lucky for the average volunteer to pick up one or two in a month realistically,” he said. “Once you kind of start looking and get a little bit more of a trained eye you can detect them a little bit more obviously, but it’s not something that’s going to be a huge volume that’s for sure.”

He added that anyone familiar with walking a dog, will be pleasantly surprised by what they pick up.

“Wild carnivore scat is actually less smelly and less disgusting than processed dog food for sure,” he said.

Windle said people who sign up will be assigned to areas they already enjoy visiting.

“Obviously there are lots of people that are out and about enjoying the outdoors here whether its on beaches or trails or old logging roads. So, we’re just asking for a little bit of help from people while they’re out there,” he said.

“It would be wonderful to get a nice little group of local volunteers and, I think, for the people that are going to be interested in it, they’re going to be really interested in it, as weird as that sounds. And then, for other people it’s clearly going to just not be their cup of tea.”

He said the wolf poop collected will be sent to a lab where it will be mined for a myriad of valuable information like diet, kinship and health.

“You can actually get a lot of information from scat,” he said.

He said poop fairies will be trained to use GPS devices to map out where wolf feces are being found and DNA will be compared to find out how wolves within packs are related to each other as well as neighbouring packs.

Learning individual diets will also help researchers understand whether different packs are focusing on different prey species while also gaining a better understanding of what wolves are hunting for at different times of year.

That could help the Park Reserve focus its management on areas where wolves are likely to be finding those prey species to better help humans avoid them.

Poo collectors will also be asked to leave some remains of the feces behind, because wolves are communicating with scent marking.

“We don’t want to completely remove the whole sample because it’s also how they’re communicating with each other.”

Wolves were biologically extricated from Vancouver Island in the 1960’s with occasional sightings being reported once every few years through the 1970’s and 1980’s.

“Basically 21 years ago now, they kind of showed up and started establishing packs and territories again,” Windle explained. “As that’s happened, so has an increase in conflicts between people and wolves.”

READ MORE: Wolf killed in Pacific Rim National Park Reserve between Tofino and Ucluelet

He said improving the West Coast’s ability to coexist with its wolf population is vital because wolves are a keystone species that heavily impact their environment and added that the Park Reserve is mandated to protect the area’s ecological integrity and biodiversity.

“They’re also a really important species spiritually and culturally to the Nuu-chah-nulth Nations that we share the land with,” he said.

Anyone interested in becoming a poop fairy is encouraged to contact Windle at 250-726-7165 ext. 227 or Todd.Windle@canada.ca.



andrew.bailey@westerlynews.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

READ MORE: Hitacu man wants wolf that attacked his dog to be killed

READ MORE: Wolf killed in Ucluelet

READ MORE: VIDEO: Tofino wolf sighting awes AdventureSmart coordinator

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Cowichan Valley Public Art Gallery sharing wealth of online art

The CVPAG page will feature new artists and galleries every two weeks

Mary Lowther column: The beauty of Lady Godivas from the garden

So THAT’S where my Lady Godiva pumpkins went!

‘An extra $220 every 90 days’: B.C. patients pay more dispensing fees due to prescription limits

Kelowna woman says it’s outrageous to charge for refills every 30 days

Duncan’s Overdose Prevention Site to move this fall to new Wellness Centre

OPS will be part of new Wellness and Recovery Centre on York Road

Cowichan Music Festival stars denied chance at provincials due to COVID-19 cancellation

“We were grateful that we were able to hold the Cowichan Music Festival”

‘Hold our line’: 29 new cases of COVID-19 announced in B.C.

Saturday’s number of new cases marks the lowest in weeks.

List of cancelled Cowichan Valley community events

An ongoing list of events that have been cancelled in the Cowichan Valley due to COVID-19

Two inmates found positive for COVID-19 at federal prison in B.C.; other tests pending

15 staff self-isolating waiting results, refusal to work notice sent, says correctional officer

Critic, workers’ group ‘disappointed’ Trudeau chose Amazon to distribute PPE

Amazon Canada said in an email to The Canadian Press that it is working with Canada Post, Purolator

Full World COVID-19 update: National Guard collect ventilators in New York; Spain, Italy improve

Comprehensive coronavirus update with news from around the world.

Saanich mayor receives his foster bees through pollinator rental program

‘I feel like I’m an adoptive father,’ Fred Haynes says of his rented mason bee colony

Nanaimo’s Harmac mill works to fill doubled pulp order for medical masks and gowns

Mill’s president says extra cleaning in place and workers are social distancing

Two people fined after B.C. police spot online ads re-selling 5,000 surgical, N95 masks

Police confiscated the masks, being sold at inflated prices, and now working with Fraser Health

Most Read