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)

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

Protesters stand in front of a truck carrying logs to the WFP Ladysmith log sort. (Cole Schisler photo)
Protesters block entrance to Western Forest Products in Ladysmith

Blockade cleared by Ladysmith RCMP around noon, December 2

A truck arrives with a load of logs at Western Forest Products’ mill in Ladysmith. More work will be coming to the Ladysmith sawmill in February, says WFP. (Black Press file photo)
More work at Ladysmith mill in new year, says Western Forest Products

Company says Ladysmith operation to see second shift in February

After a brief closure, Roberts Street Pizza will reopen with an updated COVID-19 safety plan. (Cole Schisler photo)
Roberts Street Pizza reopens December 3

The store closed for a few days to update their COVID-19 safety plan

Ben Maartman, pictured in his ‘farm office’ has been elected as Area H director. (Ben Maartman photo)
Ben Maartman declared Director of CVRD Area H

Maartman will be sworn in on December 8

Beautiful morning with the sun peaking through, as viewed from Thetis Island. (Photo by Kelly Bannister)
November characterized by a record high, no snow and plenty of rain in Chemainus region

Temperature almost hits the 20 degree Celsius mark on Nov. 4

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s coronavirus situation at the legislature, Nov. 30, 2020. (B.C. government)
Hockey team brought COVID-19 back from Alberta, B.C. doctor says

Dr. Bonnie Henry pleads for out-of-province travel to stop

Victoria’s Royal Jubilee Hospital took in two COVID-19 patients from Northern Health as part of a provincial agreement. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria hospital takes in two COVID-19 patients from Northern Health

Royal Jubilee Hospital takes patients as part of provincial transport network

B.C. Premier John Horgan on a conference call with religious leaders from his B.C. legislature office, Nov. 18, 2020, informing them in-person church services are off until further notice. (B.C. government)
B.C. tourism relief coming soon, Premier John Horgan says

Industry leaders to report on their urgent needs next week

Natalie MacMaster and Donnell Leahy are inviting audiences into their home for ‘A Celtic Family Christmas’. (Submitted)
Natalie MacMaster coming to you through Cowichan Performing Arts Centre

Here’s your chance to enjoy the famed fiddler in an online show with her husband Donnell Leahy.

An RCMP cruiser looks on as a military search and rescue helicopter winds down near Bridesville, B.C. Tuesday, Dec. 1. Photo courtesy of RCMP Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey
B.C. Mountie, suspect airlifted by Canadian Armed Forces from ravine after foot chase

Military aircraft were dispatched from Comox, B.C., say RCMP

An 18-year old male southern resident killer whale, J34, is stranded near Sechelt in 2016. A postmortem examination suggests he died from trauma consistent with a vessel strike. (Photo supplied by Paul Cottrell, Fisheries and Oceans Canada)
“We can do better” — humans the leading cause of orca deaths: study

B.C. research reveals multitude of human and environmental threats affecting killer whales

A logo for Netflix on a remote control is seen in Portland, Ore.,Aug. 13, 2020. Experts in taxation and media say a plan announced Monday by the government will ultimately add to the cost of digital services and goods sold by foreign companies. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Jenny Kane
‘Netflix tax’ for digital media likely to raise prices for consumers, experts say

The government says Canadian companies already collect those taxes when they make digital sales

Most Read