We are pleased to welcome Camille Roberge to the team, as KCP’s new Stewardship Coordinator. She has a diverse array of wildlife studies under her belt, having conducted field research on a wide variety of species, from black swifts to bull trout to elk and moose. Her passion for wildlife and conservation is evident through her work and research projects, as well as volunteer contributions.

Camille is currently close to completing her Master’s degree in Biology. Her thesis research includes collaboration with the Nlaka’pamux Nation Tribal Council, Teck, and the BC Ministry of Forests. She is trying to find answers to why the moose population near Logan Lake is decreasing. This involves investigating the effects of forestry harvesting practices on plant nutritional quality, and how this influences the health of moose populations. She is studying tannins specifically, which are produced by plants to defend themselves against herbivores. 

“One of the things that tannins do is they bind with protein making it unavailable, which means that when the moose eats a certain plant, it may not be getting much of the protein. This means the plant does not have very good nutritional quality for the moose anymore. I’m finding differences in the digestible protein between plants in cut blocks and plants in forests.”

Camille monitors a cohort of adult female moose annually to assess their health, reproduction and mortality rate. 

Another project that Camille is excited about is her work developing the Alberta Wildlife Watch (AWW) program for the Government of Alberta. AWW is a website tool and mobile phone application that tracks animal and vehicle collisions throughout Alberta and identifies and ranks hotspots for mitigation. There are currently at least three highway mitigation projects that are being constructed in Alberta because of data generated from this program, including an overpass on Highway 1 near Canmore. “I feel like a lot of the time in biology you’re just monitoring trends. With this project, there’s something productive being done about the data, which feels really good,” Camille elaborates. 

Camille now calls Kimberley home, after relocating from Vancouver to the interior of BC, with stops in Ottawa, the Yukon, and Australia along the way. “I feel like I’ve been pretty lucky. I feel like a lot of the traveling I’ve done in my life has been for work, and I’ve been able to live in places that I would not have lived in otherwise. I got to live in the Yukon at a research station, in Colorado, and in different places in Alberta.”

She now enjoys living in the mountain town of Kimberley, where she has a deep appreciation for the close-knit community as well as the sunshine and snow. In her free time, she likes to go cross-country and backcountry skiing in the winter months, and in the summer,  she can often be found on one of the many local trails hiking, backpacking, or running.

“I love living in Kimberley – it feels very welcoming. People are so kind, and the volunteer work that people do to keep the town nice and the trails maintained is incredible. It shows they really care.”

Her love of winter began when she lived in Ottawa. While doing her B.Sc. at Carleton University, she learned how to skate on the Rideau Canal, even skating back and forth between the University of Ottawa and Carleton to the south. “That is how I got to meetings with the professor for my honour’s thesis and back. It felt like the most Canadian thing ever,” she laughs. 

Another unique experience she has had was doing biology surveys in Australia. “I had a cool opportunity when I was working with Tetra Tech who had a sister company in Australia. The amount of biodiversity there is huge. They have one massive textbook just for eucalyptus trees. It was a big learning curve to go there.” 

Her love of wildlife and ecological research has led her to do some local volunteering in Kimberley as well. “The Kimberly the Nature Park Society likes to know if there are any rare plants before they build new trails. I helped out with some community Calypso Orchid surveys. Because I have a lot of experience with capturing and handling ungulates, I have also helped the provincial government with some local field studies. It’s fun.”

Camille is looking forward to what life brings next, including her new role with the Kootenay Conservation Program.

You can reach Camille at camille@kootenayconservation.ca

Camille in the field: Capturing and surveying elk from horseback; Cold winter fieldwork; Installing acoustic recording units to monitor common nighthawk; Tagging an elk calf; Cooling off in the field in Australia; Rescuing endangered frogs in Australia; Capturing moose for her MSc research.