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Call of the wild

Tracking animals with the Wild Watch app

Call of the wild – using our wild watch app to track wildlife sightings.

September 2016 - Spotting a bear is one of the most iconic Canadian wildlife experiences, but it’s usually pretty rare. Not so at our oil sands operations in northern Alberta. Workers at our remote sites frequently observe bears, deer and other animals. And now they can assist in tracking the animals they spot, including the time and location, using their smartphones. This helps us continually improve the design of our oil sands projects to reduce their impact on wildlife.

The website iwildwatch.ca and a smart phone app make it easier for our staff to record wildlife sightings near our operations. Field workers can also continue to use a hard copy form to log their observations, which was their only way to record animal sightings before the digital Wild Watch program. Now in its third year, this program has collected more than 2,500 wildlife reports. In the days of manual recordkeeping, only a few hundred reports would be made each year.

“The app has become critical in helping us collect meaningful data about animal movement and behaviour near our field operations,” says Ariane Bourassa, Cenovus Environmental Advisor. “With the information we gather, we can improve the way we operate to reduce our impact on these animals.”

Wild Watch is an example of our commitment to technology innovation. In 2013, we teamed up with the Miistakis Institute at Calgary’s Mount Royal University to develop the website and app. The Institute is a non-profit organization dedicated to wildlife management and conservation.

“Cenovus proved to be an innovative partner in developing a product with us,” says Tracy Lee, Senior Project Manager at the Miistakis Institute. “This app will serve as the foundation for the development of data collection tools for many other organizations, including citizen groups, government and industry, to monitor local conservation issues.”

Check it out

This is a screenshot of the Wild Watch app, which allows staff to easier record wildlife sightings near our operations.

Collaboration

We’ve shared the Wild Watch technology with our peers through Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance (COSIA) because we believe that collaboration with industry partners is a critical part of being a responsible developer of Canada’s resources.