A new report from the Wildlife Conservation Society Canada (WCS Canada) creates a conservation strategy that will promote wildlife resiliency in the Southern Canadian Rockies to the future impacts of climate change and road use. The report's "safe passages and safe havens" were informed in part by an assessment of six iconic speciesbull trout, westslope cutthroat trout, grizzly bears, wolverines, mountain goats and bighorn sheepfive of which were ranked as highly vulnerable to projected changes.
Nestled between Glacier National Park in Montana and Banff National Park in Canada, the Southern Canadian Rockies (SCR) has been overshadowed by these towering icons of mountain splendour. Yet this southern section contains spectacular landscapes, supports one of the most diverse communities of carnivores and hoofed mammals in North America, and is a stronghold for the six vulnerable species that have been vanquished in much of their former range further south.
In the report entitled Safe Havens, Safe Passages for Vulnerable Fish and Wildlife: Critical Landscapes in the Southern Canadian Rockies British Columbia and Montana, WCS Conservation Scientist John Weaver notes that wildlife will need 'room to roam' to adapt to the impacts of climate change. Complicating those climate-related transitions are major highways and an expansive network of forest roads that have fragmented the SRC landscape.
"Providing 'safe havens' of secure and diverse habitats and 'safe passages' across the highways are climate-smart strategies," says Weaver.
To that end, he assessed 16,978 square kilometres (6,632 square miles) of SCR land for conservation value based upon the needs of the vulnerable species and the myriad challenges facing each. For example, warmer winter temperatures resulting from climate change will reduce mountain snow cover and suitable habitat for the rare wolverine, a species highly adapted to persistent snow pack. Reduced stream flow
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Wildlife Conservation Society