Raincoast cancels field work due to COVID-19

Thhree Raincoast researchers in life jackets and boots stand on a pebbled shore around a white dinghy speaking to each other while the ocean looms quietly in the background in pale blue, cut by two mountains forming a vee.

Photo by April Bencze.

For the last 10-plus years March and April are usually busy with preparations for the annual bear monitoring field work in the Raincoast Applied Conservation Science (ACS) Lab.

Spring this year, however, is much quieter. With the COVID-19 affecting normalcy around the world, we, along with our Coastal First Nation colleagues, have decided to cancel the field work this season.

This decision was made following announcements by many Coastal First Nations to close their Territories to outside visitors in order to prevent the spread of the virus within their communities.

Although this is the first spring in over a decade where we won’t be headed north to join our colleagues and friends in sampling. Instead, we will maintain virtual connection, support from afar, and hope for updates on bears emerging from hibernation via photos and videos from local people.

I would normally be checking my gear for the season of hanging barbwire, placing the none reward bait and putting up trail cameras in hopes that the bears will visit our sites and leave hair samples. This year we are staying home to keep us safe. The bears will show up with out us as they have for thousands of years. I will go to some of our sites in hopes on getting pictures so stay tuned. Until then stay safe take care of yourself and families. One day we will be back in the field carrying on the important work and telling stories of the craziness of what the world has and will go through together.

Howard Humchitt

Raincoast researchers Ilona Mihalik and Kyle Artelle stand with Heiltsuk fisherman, hunter and field crew member Howard Humchitt.

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