Congratulations to first year MSc student Wyatt Villetard for winning 3rd place in poster presentations at the Alberta Chapter of The Wildlife Society conference 2023! Wyatt presented his plans for the upcoming field season and the objectives of his project to study the movement ecology and effects of hunting on Alberta’s nesting Sandhill Cranes.
Check out his abstract and poster below!
Abstract: In 2020 the province of Alberta approved a Sandhill Crane (Antigone canadensis) hunting season. But, to date, no projects conducted have focused on Alberta’s nesting population. With Alberta having a large migratory population, but a relatively small nesting population, this knowledge gap has raised concern, in some, that small local nesting populations may not be large enough to support a harvest. Our study aims to reduce this knowledge gap by deploying ARUs (autonomous recording units) and GPS transmitters. During the summer of 2023, roughly 150 ARUs will be deployed horizontally across the province to track incoming cranes at different latitudes. We will also capture and fit 15 individual cranes from small nesting populations throughout Alberta with GPS transmitters to determine provincial movement, wintering grounds, and if cranes nesting outside huntable WMUs (wildlife management units) are migrating through huntable regions in the fall, thus exposing them to hunting pressure. Newly acquired data will be coupled with previously collected data by ABMI (Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute) and the Bayne Lab at the University of Alberta. This information will grant us, and Alberta’s broader conservation community, the ability to answer important ecological questions surrounding Sandhill Crane movement in the province while providing information to inform future management.