When most think of Kootenay wildlife, it’s usually the iconic land mammals such as grizzlies and elk that immediately come to mind. Small, sleek amphibians tend not to have the same popular appeal, but these cold-blooded vertebrates face many of the same challenges and risks that other wildlife do -- if not more, since they depend on both aquatic and terrestrial habitats. This couldn’t be more true than for the endangered Northern Leopard Frog.
To many in the Kootenays, catching sight of a Great Blue Heron is a special experience. Whether you’re standing at a river’s edge, or on the shoreline of a lake, it’s a treat to spot one nearby, either standing peacefully in the shallow water or gracefully flying by overhead.
A professional biologist with Living Lakes Canada, the Columbia Basin-based water stewardship non-profit, Kyle Prince is passionate about enhancing people’s understanding of the natural environment, a passion he’s cultivated throughout his life having grown up in a family that prioritized the outdoors.
Allana Oestreich is a senior habitat biologist with the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development based out of the Cranbrook office. With the provincial government’s conservation lands portfolio for the East Kootenay region as one of her core deliveries, Allana works closely with local land trusts, stakeholders, and other landscape level projects to achieve the greatest conservation value overall.
The Friends of Kootenay Lake Stewardship Society works to improve the health and stewardship of B.C.’s fifth largest lake, and although the COVID-19 pandemic has curtailed much of FoKLSS’ traditional outreach and education programs, Acting Program Manager Camille LeBlanc has been leading the charge on a number of initiatives that are helping keep Kootenay Lake at the forefront of people’s mind.
Balancing recreation with conservation is the role of the Lake Windermere Ambassadors (LWA), the water stewardship group that has been monitoring the ecological health of the lake since its inception in 2010, and LWA Program Coordinator Shannon McGinty couldn’t be more perfectly qualified for this challenge.
Erin Bates has been the Executive Director for the Central Kootenay Invasive Species Society since January 2019, but for three years prior she worked in every program area at CKISS, including delivering outreach, hunting bullfrogs, and managing the Field Operations Program.
A transplant from Australia, Chad Hughes is the new executive director for the Elk River Alliance, and is keen to apply his diverse background as an ecologist and mining consultant to working collaboratively across sectors in the Elk Valley to preserve the watershed.
An appreciation and love for the natural world is what led Kendal Benesh into the field of biology, but throughout her career she’s discovered a new, yet complementary, passion: bringing people together to solve problems and find efficiencies.
Wildlife biologist and Selkirk College ecology instructor Doris Hausleitner has always had a penchant for species that are considered something of an underdog, those without champions to promote their cause. It’s no wonder then, that the elusive wolverine captured her imagination years ago when she was approached by friend and colleague Andrea Kortello to start the South Columbia Mountains Wolverine Project.