📷 credits: Joe Crowley

In March, the Canadian Species Initiative (CSI), co-founded by WPC and African Lion Safari, in partnership with the IUCN Species Survival Commission Conservation Planning Specialist Group  successfully hosted their first integrated species conservation planning workshop. An amazing group of over 60 experts including zoo staff, government and First Nations representatives, academics and other species experts from across Canada, the United States, and Mexico came together virtually for three days to discuss the ex situ conservation options for all snakes in Canada.

An Integrated Collection Assessment and Planning (ICAP) workshop brings in situ and ex situ communities together to apply the decision-making process of the IUCN Guidelines for the Use of Ex Situ Management for Species Conservation. In a rapid species-by-species approach, the process identifies priorities for ex situ conservation activities by evaluating the conservation value, feasibility, and risk of potential ex situ roles. This was the first time that an ICAP workshop was hosted virtually and aside from a few, very minor issues (you know the usual tornado warnings, school suspensions, and, of course, computer crashes) we managed to pull it off!

Hands-on conservation-based education, training, and research actions were identified as priorities for almost all Canadian snakes, while in-depth ex situ conservation programs, for example population reinforcement, were identified for several highly at-risk species. Actions identified in the workshop will complement in situ conservation efforts and CSI is looking forward to continuing to work with the Canadian herpetological community to move these efforts forward. The final workshop report will be released this summer and updates on CSI’s activities will be posted to the Canadian Species Initiative website.

Congratulations to the organizers and participants of this workshop. … it was an amazing event, and you should all be proud of the great detail of knowledge you have about Canadian snakes. It should be a great conservation tool for this species we all like so much

Dr. J. Jesús Sigala Rodríguez

Co-Chair, IUCN Viper Specialist Group

Stephanie Winton

Canada’s New Noah and Species Conservation Planning Assistant – Canadian Species Initiative

Stephanie is the 31st Canada’s New Noah and is currently assisting the Canadian Species Initiative to build capacity for species conservation planning in Canada. Stephanie holds a master’s degree in conservation biology from Thompson Rivers University where she studied the impacts of road mortality on a threatened rattlesnake species. She has extensive experience working in conservation and research for species at risk reptiles, amphibians, mammals and birds in Western Canada.