Local graduate student Leila Armstrong is launching a project to capture images of wild animals visiting Lethbridge backyards. Armstrong, a student at the University of Lethbridge, is interested in documenting urban wildlife within city limits and hopes to track nocturnal explorers such as deer, rabbits, raccoons, coyotes and skunks using trail cameras placed on city properties.
According to Armstrong, “The goal is to turn Lethbridgians into citizen scientists involved in mapping the variety of species with which we share our city. What animals are thriving is close proximity to us? Where are the densest populations of these urban dwellers? And what do their movements through our backyards, parks, and alleys tell us about not only them, but also ourselves?”
Armstrong believes there is a disconnect between people’s everyday lived experience and their conception of nature as something external and removed. Armstrong explains, “This generates a concern that we will have no inclination to protect the biodiversity with which we engage everyday. Given that 81% of Canadians reside it urban centres [Statistics Canada], it is important to understand how city dwellers define and interact with urban wildlife and wilderness.” With this in mind, she is intent on undertaking a natural history of Lethbridge.
The process involves the placement of 1 – 2 trail cameras on each volunteer’s property for a period of approximately fourteen days. If the volunteer is willing, Armstrong also asks a series of questions about how the participant feels about the animals that come into their yard.
If you suspect there may be critters visiting your yard during the day and/or night, and would like to participate in the project, please contact Leila Armstrong at [email protected] or check out the project website: http://backyardwilderness.info.