A wild whooping crane. Ryan Hagerty/US Fish and Wildlife Service
The inaugural Northern Whooping Crane Festival planned to take place in Fort Smith next month is being postponed as wildfires continue to burn near the community.
In a Facebook post, the South Slave Research Centre said the event, which was scheduled for August 9 to 12, would be postponed due to increased wildfire activity and road closures. It said it will provide updates on when the event will be rescheduled.
The event was set to include research presentations, an art show, workshops, and activities for kids.
A public meeting on pelicans scheduled for August 10, to discuss whether they should be listed as a “species of special concern” on the NWT list of species at risk, is still being planned to take place. Organizers said they will re-evaluate next week.
Endangered whooping cranes are a celebrated resident of the region, migrating from Texas annually to nest in and around the nearby Wood Buffalo National Park.
The territory’s wildfire agency said Fort Smith is not at immediate risk from wildfires. NWT’s health authority said residents from the Northern Lights special care home were being moved to Hay River over the weekend “out of an abundance of caution.”
Monitors tracking air quality in several communities across Canada showed conditions in Fort Smith were the worst of locations being monitored in the NWT on Monday. In the morning, the town measured air quality index measurements above 300, considered “hazardous” with a health warning of “emergency conditions.” By the evening, that had increased to 500.