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

The car was trapped, with its driver inside, in a ditch off Hirsch Creek Main near Onion Lake overnight Monday (Oct. 19). Oct. 20, 2020. Kitimat RCMP photo.
Man found after spending overnight stuck in car in a ditch near Onion Lake

Kitimat RCMP said the man was stuck there overnight for about 10 hours

A cup of tea can be a great hand-warmer on a cold day. (submitted)
Tea: it picks you up, it does not let you down

A good cup of tea never fails to brighten up the day

A map created by Clear Seas Centre for Responsible Marine Shipping, which assesses the sensitivity of Canada’s Pacific Coast to oil spills. This map highlights the Douglas Channel and other inlets and waterways around Kitimat and out to the coast. (Clear Seas map)
Douglas Channel scores ‘medium’ to high’ on oil spill sensitivity study

The study was done by a not-for-profit group specializing in sustainable marine shipping

Jody Craven of Kitimat has been announced as the BC Libertarian Party’s candidate for North Coast riding MLA on Oct. 5. (Jody Craven photo)
Jody Craven of Kitimat in the running for North Coast MLA

BC Libertarian Party has announced Craven as North Coast candidate for riding

FILE – People wait in line at a COVID-19 testing facility in Burnaby, B.C., on Thursday, August 13, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
167 new COVID-19 cases, 1 death recorded as B.C. enters 2nd wave

Three new healthcare outbreaks also announced

Surrey RCMP cruisers outside a Newton townhouse Tuesday night. (Photo: Shane MacKichan)
Toddler in hospital, woman dead following stabbings at Surrey townhouse

Police say two-year-old was among victims found at townhouse complex in the 12700-block of 66 Avenue

A Tim Hortons employee hands out coffee from a drive-through window to a customer in Mississauga, Ont., on March 17, 2020. Tim Hortons is ending the practice of double cupping hot drinks, a move the fast food restaurant says will eliminate hundreds of millions of cups from landfills each year. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
The end of double cupping: Tim Hortons ditches two cups in favour of one with sleeve

Most recycling facilities in Canada don’t recycle single use paper coffee cups because of a plastic lining

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer doctor Theresa Tam responds to a question during a news conference Tuesday October 20, 2020 in Ottawa. Canada’s chief public health doctor says in the age of social media, fake news about the COVID-19 pandemic has been spreading faster than the virus itself. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
VIDEO: Fake news creates serious issues for battling pandemic, chief public health doc says

Both Tam and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau urged Canadians to be responsible about the information they share

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

This 2020 electron microscope image made available by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases shows a Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 particle isolated from a patient, in a laboratory in Fort Detrick, Md. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-NIAID/NIH via AP
At least 49 cases of COVID-19 linked to wedding in Calgary: Alberta Health

McMillan says the city of Calgary has recently seen several outbreaks linked to social gatherings

UBC geoscientists discovered the wreckage of a decades-old crash during an expedition on a mountain near Harrison Lake. (Submitted photo)
Wreckage of decades-old plane crash discovered on mountain near Harrison Lake

A team of Sts’ailes Community School students helped discover the twisted metal embedded in a glacier

The official search to locate Jordan Naterer was suspended Saturday Oct. 17. Photo courtesy of VPD.
‘I am not leaving without my son,’ says mother of missing Manning Park hiker

Family and friends continue to search for Jordan Naterer, after official efforts suspended

A bear similar to this black bear is believed responsible for killing a llama in Saanich on Oct. 19. (Black Press Media file photo)
Bear kills llama on Vancouver Island, prompting concerns over livestock

Officers could not track the bear they feel may not fear humans

Most Read