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McClelland Lake Wetland Complex Wildlife Monitoring Program

Suncor’s proposed Fort Hills Mine site is one of the largest undeveloped oil sands leases in the Lower Athabasca region. This site includes the McClelland Lake Wetland Complex (MLWC), an ecologically unique habitat that supports a diversity of plants and animals. As part of Suncor’s approval requirements, a long-term monitoring program has been established to monitor wildlife habitat use and species composition in the portion of the wetland that will not be mined. This monitoring program includes a pre-development phase, in which baseline reference conditions will be established, a development phase, in which impacts will be monitoring during active mining, and a post-development phase, in which species and habitat use will be tacked during mine reclamation.

Fiera Biological was involved in the Fort Hills wetland monitoring program from 2009 to 2017. Our involvement in this project has included the monitoring program development, including sampling design, methods, and protocols, as well as data collection. To-date, the monitoring program has been focused on collecting preliminary baseline data on habitat use and species abundance using a number of techniques, including: snow tracking and remote cameras for monitoring mammals; point counts, nest searches, and call playbacks for monitoring song birds and waterfowl; and egg mass surveys for monitoring amphibians.

Moving forward, sampling is expected to occur in the MLWC on an annual basis to track changes in habitat use, species composition, and relative abundance of selected species guilds.

Client
Suncor Energy

Project Duration
January 2009 to Present