Wildlife monitoring tech tools will be focus of upcoming webinar

An online event on May 5 will showcase how wildlife cameras and audio recorders can increase northerners’ ability to observe changes on the land.

The webinar is part of a multi-organization partnership that includes First Nations, universities, governments and non-profits.

The event will be hosted by David Evans, community-based monitoring and engagement lead for the Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute. It will feature presentations from Jessica Jumbo of Sambaa K’e Dene First Nation and Jon McDonald of the Fort Smith Métis Council, who are both using environmental sensors, such as cameras and audio recorders, in their monitoring programs.


The technology has come a long way in recent years, according to Evans, and many groups are already using it.

“It’s really powerful and really is able to amplify monitoring efforts by Guardian programs and by non-Indigenous monitoring programs,” he said.

While the tech tools have their benefits, Evans said the downside is that they produce a lot of data that can be tricky to manage and process.

“At this point, there’s a lot of confusion around using all of this data, what to do with it after you’ve collected images,” he said, adding that there’s also a need for consistency between programs so data can be easily shared.

The upcoming webinar is aimed at demonstrating the monitoring tools’ capabilities and drumming up interest.


“The real goal right now is to showcase the amazing work that our First Nations partners are actually doing out on the land,” Evans said.

Training in the works

Jumbo and McDonald will share their experiences using the tech, Evans said, including how it has helped them answer questions relevant to their communities, and how they integrate Western science into traditional knowledge and monitoring systems.

The event will cover supports that are currently available as well as those the group hopes to see in the future.

For the past three years, Evans said the multi-organization partnership has been working to develop training on how to use wildlife cameras and audio recorders. The webinar is intended to gauge communities’ interest in learning about the tools, which will help build a business case for a college or instructor to take on the training program.


So far, organizers have focused their outreach about the event on Indigenous and northern governments that are likely out on the land.

“We haven’t been broadly posting this,” Evans said, adding that the group wants to ensure there is enough space for community members throughout the North to attend.

Evans and his colleagues are also trying to make the meeting inclusive by not having a sign-up that requires an email address.

“I’m really hopeful that we’re able to get a lot of buy-in, to be able to show that this is worthwhile and that we can create a home for this training program,” he said.

The virtual meeting will be held via Zoom on May 5 at 10am. It will be recorded for people who are unable to attend.

This article is produced under a Creative Commons CC BY-ND 4.0 licence through the Wilfrid Laurier University Climate Change Journalism Fellowship.