How do we design cities that are integrated into the environment, rather than just adding a few parks after the cities are built? How do we design for, educate for, and live with wild animals? These are important questions in our rapidly urbanizing world, and they are questions that University of Saskatchewan PhD student Katie Harris is helping to address.
Katie explains that she began her research journey “with the goal of working to conserve our native species and to help ensure the preservation of our environment and its resources.” As she told me over coffee recently, “My research goals involve developing the baseline understanding of the distribution and movement of local urban wildlife, creating Saskatoon’s first urban wildlife databank for examining ecological trends and changes over long periods of time, and exploring the myriad of ways that cities and urban growth are changing the ecology and behaviors of wildlife species.”
Her long-term goal is “to contribute to the development of sustainable, biodiversity-friendly urban planning strategies to help ensure the conservation of our natural resources.”
Katie’s research supports Saskatoon in its membership in the Urban Wildlife Information Network. Several cities in Canada (Edmonton, Saskatoon, and Toronto) and over 30 cities in the United States, are sharing strategies to monitor their urban wildlife. Thank you to Katie for taking on this important work on behalf of Saskatoon!
My own street is a natural corridor from the river to a large natural area. At times, when the full moon wakes me up, I have looked out my window and seen a fox, and once a coyote, walking down the centre of the street. Early in the morning, I have seen mule deer, who like to stop at my bird feeder and help themselves to sunflower seeds. And, of course, most of us have seen the white-tailed jackrabbit, a species that was recently portrayed in a NatureCity Adventure.
Katie noted that she has about 30 000 photos taken by her network of wildlife cameras. Altogether, she has records of approximately 20 species of mammals. The four most commonly photographed species are white-tailed jackrabbits (is anyone surprised?), red foxes, mule deer, and coyotes.