Introducing Our Muddy Boots


Hilary Cooke
Co-Director, Northern Boreal Mountains Program




We thought it was time we invited people into the world that drives our science and our passion.

As conservation scientists for WCS Canada, we spend much time at our desks analyzing data, writing reports and scientific publications, keeping abreast of the latest in wildlife science and conservation issues in Canada, and of course, trying to not get bogged down by email..... We also devote considerable time and energy on conference calls or in meetings with our partners in wildlife conservation – government biologists, managers, and policy makers; industrial companies and associations; individual and foundation funders; other non-profit organizations; and other scientists across Canada, and across borders.

But without exception, we all started on this career path because of one thing: our passion and our love for wildlife and nature. We all grew up exploring outside – wading through streams, digging through dirt, climbing trees, and watching and waiting for those magical, breathless moments when an animal – a bird, a mouse, a frog, a deer – gets close enough to almost touch.

WCS Canada is unique in that the majority of our staff spend time in the field. Our scientists collect data on fish, bats, birds, and mammals; on wild forests and lakes and rivers in Ontario, Yukon, Alberta, and British Colombia. We do the field science, and then we work with partners to bring that science into decisions about conserving wildlife and wild places in Canada. We call this Muddy Boots Conservation.
So, we thought it was time we invited people into the world that drives our science and our passion. The world of long days flying over vast snowy landscapes, of waking at dawn in a tent by a river, and of bushwhacking through dense forests. The world of rain and snow and mud and heat, of black flies and mosquitoes, of black bears and moose, of leaky boats and tangled nets, of inspiration and awe and excitement.

The world of Muddy Boots.

Working in the field can be challenging, and we want to share our stories of what it takes to get the data we need to inform decisions on Canada’s wild places. It is also a challenge to bring these data and results to the table of policy-makers and make a compelling case for wildlife, especially since decision-making involves balancing multiple interests. While this blog will be full of muddy boots tales from the wilderness, it will also include our thoughts on how we might avoid watching our wide-ranging wildlife, vulnerable fish, and migratory birds disappear as they are relegated to ever-shrinking habitat fragments. Vast, roadless areas have become a rarity in today’s world, and Canada is one of the few countries to boast luxuriously spacious and intact areas full of all the components of a thriving ecosystem. Here’s a look behind the scenes on our particular efforts to save wildlife and wild lands in Canada.

Big Boots to Fill

Big Boots to Fill

The remarkable WCS Canada career of Dr. Don Reid
Hilary Cooke, Chrystal Mantyka-Pringle, Justina Ray

Our approach

Our approach

WCS Canada uses a unique blend of on-the-ground scientific research and policy action to help protect wildlife and ecosystems across Canada.

This is our decision decade

This is our decision decade

Like many of you, my passion for wildlife began at an early age.
Daniel Kraus