A reflection on conservation successes in a time of uncertainty. From the 2020 Annual Report.

by Lance Woolaver Jr., WPC Executive Director

2020 was quite the year, not just for Wildlife Preservation Canada but for the entire planet. In addition to the challenge of restructuring our field work so that WPC could continue saving species safely, we all found ourselves more aware of the importance of nature and wildlife in our daily lives. Working from home, my own backyard became a haven and I have been amazed at how many species shared this space with me that I had previously not been aware of. This affirmation of the importance of nature to our wellbeing has strengthened WPC’s resolve to be Canada’s last defence for endangered species.

Despite challenges, 2020 was a significant year for WPC. Steadfast support from our core, loyal donors provided us with the flexibility to invest in our core programs and expand our impact with new species.

2020 was a banner year for all three programs in BC. We released Oregon spotted frogs and western painted turtles in record numbers to the Fraser River valley. Field monitoring recorded an increased number of frog egg masses and turtle nests, confirming that wild populations are re-establishing as a direct result of our conservation effort. We released Taylor’s checkerspot caterpillars to a completely new site on Hornby Island. Upon returning later in the season we observed adult checkerspot butterflies at those release sites, for the first time in over 20 years. 

Eastern loggerhead shrikes released by WPC in previous years were once again significant contributors to the breeding population. A shrike born in captivity at the Nashville Zoo was transported here and released by WPC in Ontario in 2019. This amazing individual then migrated south for the winter and returned to nest in Ontario in 2020, representing a global first for migratory songbird conservation.

WPC’s native pollinator team strengthened our model citizen science program in Pinery Provincial Park, enabling volunteers to contribute to bumble bee conservation at one of the most important sites for Canada’s most vulnerable species. WPC’s pollinator team also developed partnerships throughout the year for the reintroduction of conservation bred mottled duskywings in 2021.

This will be Ontario’s very first butterfly reintroduction project.

In 2020 WPC led a collaboration to protect Canada’s last remaining population of the blue racer, one of the fastest and most beautiful snakes in North America. We also carried out a population census for Butler’s gartersnake in southern Ontario to identify population declines.

The development of innovative methods for reintroducing temperate snakes at the Ojibway Prairie brought us that much closer to restoring the region’s unique population of eastern massasauga rattlesnake.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank WPC’s supporters, staff, board of directors, and volunteers for their dedication and contributions – above and beyond – during the past year. Our ability to expand conservation efforts during a year of unprecedented challenge is something we should all be proud of. I am honoured to be part of the organization that is at the leading edge of endangered species conservation in Canada.

Lance Woolaver Jr.
WPC Executive Director