Monitoring Wildlife Health

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Bear necropsy
ENR staff perform a necropsy on a juvenile black bear. They take samples to test for diet, disease and contaminants, and monitor changes in distribution with climate change.

Biologists and wildlife officers in the Inuvik region held a workshop last week to gather information on wildlife health, including diet and disease. It's part of the work we do to assess and monitor wildlife populations in the Northwest Territories.

Problem animals, like the young bear in the photo, are often destroyed to protect the public. Our staff try and gather as much information as they can from the carcass, including hair for DNA analysis, blood to look for illness or disease, and stomach contents. This bear had garbage in its stomach – suggesting it had been feeding at the dump.

Necropsies like these help us monitor the health of our wildlife populations; they are also a chance to identify occasional cases of disease so we can take steps to reduce the impact on healthy animals and people.

Our wildlife veterinarian works with officers on safe handling procedures and making sure samples are being collected properly and consistently. The training also involves a discussion of wildlife disease and how to respond to mortalities.

Similar workshops have already been held in the North Slave and South Slave regions, with more training planned over the winter.