Wildlife & Habitat Surveys
Wildlife and habitat surveys involve ground-truthing of field conditions to determine what wildlife species and habitat types are present. Quantification of habitat is essential as many species are declining due to the increasingly urbanized landscape of southern Ontario, and development needs to be cognizant of species’ distributions. Wildlife surveys also fill a roll in addressing legal and/or policy requirements, including the Migratory Bird Convention Act, the determination of Significant Wildlife Habitat, or the Significant Habitat of Endangered and Threatened Species. The national Species at Risk Act and provincial Endangered Species Act protect Endangered and Threatened Species, so wildlife surveys are crucial for identifying any site constraints due to their presence.
Wildlife and habitat surveys have played an important role in all of D&A’s sectors, and particularly in Natural Heritage Planning, Private Land Development, Species-at-Risk, Conservation, and Transportation.
With any project, our approach starts with extensive background reviews; this includes reviewing existing photography, mapping and databases, as well as consulting local agency staff and regional wildlife publications. All accepted protocols are followed while conducting field surveys to maximize detection rates of target species, and any applicable policies or legislations are followed to determine the best course of action for completing the project. In addition, our staff are familiar with, and have regularly obtained, all necessary wildlife permits including animal handling and care, salamander trapping and sampling, and Species-at-Risk overall benefit and compensation. After the data gathering phase, all constraints based on wildlife or habitats found are identified and suitable alternatives – including habitat restoration, rehabilitation or enhancement - are outlined. When suitable alternatives are unavailable, appropriate mitigation and/or compensation measures are recommended.
Our survey work encompasses the full range of tasks through the project life cycle from pre-construction surveys and monitoring, through environmental impact statements, MBCA compliance surveys during construction, and post-construction monitoring.
D&A ecologists have decades of experience in the identification of wildlife in Ontario, including all bird species likely to be encountered by sight and sound (whether breeding, wintering or migrating) as well as amphibians, reptiles, mammals, lepidoptera (butterflies & moths) and odonates (dragonflies & damselflies). Furthermore, our staff are intimately familiar with all established protocols for general wildlife monitoring, including the Ontario Breeding Bird Atlas, the Forest Bird Monitoring Program, and the Marsh Monitoring Program, as well as newer MNRF protocols for specific Species-at-Risk (e.g. Bobolink and Eastern Whip-poor-will as well as bats). In addition, with our expertise in wildlife ecology combined with our agency contacts and extensive in-house library, we can customize survey protocols to meet the needs of any project location or target species.
Examples of Our Work
- Natural Heritage Planning (subwatershed studies, natural heritage strategies, master plans & inventories)
- Private Land Development (residential, commercial, industrial, resource extraction);
- Species-at-Risk (SAR management plans, COSEWIC updates, constraint analyses, compliance surveys);
- Conservation (management plans, erosion control, identification of Environmentally Sensitive Areas); and
- Transportation (new infrastructure, infrastructure expansion)