Regina Urban Wildlife Research Program collects 50,000 hours of recordings in first year

A year ago, the Royal Saskatchewan Museum (RSM) and the University of Regina began tracking the wildlife in and around the city through a surveillance project called the Regina Urban Wildlife Research Program.

The program has now concluded its first year.

“What we’re really interested in is understanding how wildlife in Regina specifically responds to different levels of urban development,” says RSM Curator of Vertebrate Zoology Dr. Ryan Fisher.

“(And) how the numbers of these different animals change as we kind of go from outside the city and what types of different animals are in these different areas.”

For the program, the RSM set up 17 biodiversity monitoring stations that consist of trail cameras to monitor large mammals and microphones that record bird songs and bat calls. These stations are active for one-month periods in the spring, summer, fall, and winter.

“Cities like Regina can provide valuable habitat for the conservation and management of wildlife,” says Fisher.

“So far, the project has recorded 13 species of mammals on camera, ranging from moose to white-tailed deer to American mink. Interestingly, most of the observations of these large mammals occurred at night, when humans aren’t as active.”

Researchers have found the songs of 41 species of birds and bat echo sounds from the fall and winter recordings.

The stations are evenly distributed at locations in the middle of the city, on the edges, and in more natural areas well outside the city boundaries.

“Over the last year, trail cameras were active for over 50,000 hours of monitoring, and microphones recorded over 500 hours of audio recordings – lots of information for the team of researchers to wade through,” says Fisher.

As the program enters its second year of operation, it plans to expand to more areas of the city.

Dr. Fisher reminds residents that if they do see the research equipment, please do not disturb it.

Also, the RSM is teaming up with the Saskatchewan Science Centre to conduct a new initiative called the citizen science urban wildlife project.

This project is still in its planning phases and it’ll be officially announced in the spring but essentially it’ll have residents participate in voluntary wildlife surveys in their residential areas.

(Photo courtesy of Ron Podbielski Parks, Culture and Sport in Regina)

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