Day 14: Mapping Habitat

The first step in ensuring sustainable development and the protection of a wildlife population is understanding the population and its needs. Stone's sheep research has traditionally focused on winter habitats, as this is when they can be found in higher concentration. The protection strategy on Todagin reflects this. Their winter habitat was protected in 2001 by means of Todagin South Slope Provincial Park, but the rest of their habitat -- the plateau and other cliff areas -- has remained unprotected.

It is this unprotected habitat that was recently opened up to mining exploration. At this point, the mining company is just looking around with relatively low impact, but should they decide to propose a development, we must understand the herd's needs to ensure sustainable development.

As a preliminary step in this direction, we are mapping the herd's habitat use during spring, summer and fall by photographing the sheep with a device called FotoSpot by Eka that provides the coordinates of the camera and its bearing. Through a series of trigonometry calculations we are able to pinpoint the exact location of the sheep being photographed.

This data will then be mapped to show the where and when of the Todagin herd's movements. Habitat protection involves protecting not only core areas but migration routes, which this data will help provide.