Northern Alberta is home to a great deal of wildlife. In order to minimize disruptions to these creatures and their habitat, oil sands companies need to know where they are. Which means locating and assessing habitat use for many animal species. Until recently, monitoring wildlife was a labour-intensive and specialized skill. The development of new guidelines and ways of working for acoustic recording units (ARUs) allows wildlife details to be gathered more accurately, anywhere, anytime. The easier local animals can be found, the easier it is to plan around their lives.
ARUs record vocalizations, while innovative software analyzes the recordings to determine the presence of rare or hard-to-detect species, primarily birds, amphibians and bats. Because ARUs are automated, use of this technology increases data reliability, reduces cost and safety risks associated with performing field surveys, and allows ongoing wildlife monitoring in remote and difficult terrain. Developing new methods for ARU use allows for research into questions about impacts to sensitive and at risk species. Application of this innovative technology develops new insights into industry impacts to biodiversity and enables the oil sands industry to develop new ways to plan and manage projects. The goal is to organize and house all of this data in a central hub, to help oil sands companies better protect wildlife and their habitat.
What animals are being looked for?
Amphibians and bats are also monitored using acoustic recording units. Common species allow us to determine important habitat and biodiversity indicators. There are also species of concern that the oil sands industry are interested in such as the Canadian toad and northern myotis bats.