Forgotten gear, soaked clothing, cold hands, even a minor oversight in preparation can turn a backcountry trip uncomfortable. In most cases, discomfort is not life-threatening and a little bit of suffering adds a little poeticism to the story. However, there can be a fine line between the discomfort we come to expect in the backcountry and the kind of discomfort that can eventually distract us from looking for animals, interfere with sleep, and reduce dexterity when it might count the most. So a little extra preparation and a few key clothing tips can go a long way to increase both comfort and effectiveness in the backcountry. Read More

Fishing seems to offer an endless supply of life metaphors. In A Fly Rod of Your Own, the writer John Gierach describes his approach to fishing tackle. Amidst all the shiny new gear and expensive gadgets, he reflects that sometimes everything we need to enjoy a day on the water fits into a pocket or a small tin tackle box. There is certainly a lesson here about happiness in life and this lesson can be learned as effectively out in the woods as anywhere else. Read More

We often assume that if we convince people to care about wildlife they will support conservation. Of course, people are unlikely to support something they don’t feel personally attached to. Unfortunately, simply caring about wildlife does not always lead to positive conservation behaviour or support for policies. So the task is not only to make people care about wildlife but to do so in a way that will inspire them to take action. Read More

Canada has less than two years to meet its target to protect 17% of terrestrial and inland waters and 10% of ocean areas by 2020, commitments made under the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). Icons of the conservation movement, such as John Muir and Henry David Thoreau, are widely credited for convincing the public to care about protecting natural spaces in the late 1800s. Today, 47 National Parks protect 328 198 square kilometres of land across Canada. Canada also has the longest coastline in the world of over 200 000 kilometres, running through three oceans. Our oceans provide critical habitat for over 40 species of marine mammals, including whales, dolphins, seals, sea lions, and polar bears, and dozens of fish species. Marine protected areas are quickly becoming critical conservation tools to protect ocean ecosystems and species.  Read More

There are far too many great outdoors books to keep up with, but I like to do a couple of these posts each year to highlight some of my favourites. Summer is a great time to catch up on novels, and while the two novels in this list are moving pieces of writing, they are not exactly light-hearted. But if you are looking for outdoors books that dig into the depths of human morality and offer vivid descriptions of landscapes, they are wonderful.  Read More

We are in the midst of a biodiversity crisis. Globally, we are losing species to extinction at a minimum of 1,000 times the natural rate. Half of Canada’s wildlife species have declined since 1970. It is by now beyond debate that humans are impacting the world’s biodiversity, including wildlife at all levels, at a magnitude and rate that has never been seen before in the history of this planet. Academics and social movements have presented compelling arguments to try to convince the public and our political leaders to care about nature. One of these arguments is that humans have a moral obligation to protect wildlife.  Read More

My interest in conservation is deeply connected with ideas of feminism, anti-racism, decolonization, and human rights. As a teenager growing up in the suburbs, I was strongly influenced by local punk rock music culture. The punk scene is known for its association with social and political movements and creating a sense of inclusivity and equality. The band Closet Monster described the punk scene as “a self-sufficient subculture, a home away from hell”. As I’ve gotten older, I have come to appreciate the very real and important relationship between conservation, culture, and politics, and the association in my own head between conservation and punk rock doesn’t seem entirely out of tune. At the time, I was simply angsty and fired up to get involved in social movements dedicated to progressive and positive change.  Read More

When the naturalist and ornithologist George Ord formally named pronghorn in 1815, he was unsure whether the species was an antelope or a goat. In the journals of their famous expedition from 1804-1806, Lewis and Clark made over 200 references to what they described as “wild goats or antelopes”. Pronghorns are also featured in the petroglyphs and pictographs of Indigenous nations throughout the continent. Over the years, and perhaps serving as a measure of the cultural importance and sense of mystery they inspire in humans, pronghorn have acquired a number of nicknames, from the more colloquial speed goat to the poetically ethereal imagery of the prairie ghost. As it turned out, George Ord would compromise and give the species a scientific name that split the difference between his uncertainty, Antilocapra americana, or “American antelope goat”.  Read More

On a recent visit with my 90-year-old grandfather, he told me that he receives two newspapers to the house daily. The first, because the contrast of the type is easier for his failing vision. The second has an extensive obituary section and he doesn’t want to miss the death of any of his friends and the opportunity to say his farewells.  Read More

It has always been the case that explorers, wanderers, hunters, and conservationists have recorded and later told stories of their experiences in the natural world. As varied in their voices as the environments that inspired them, our bookshelves should be overflowing with their tales and thoughts. As Steven Rinella says in Meat Eater, “hunting stories are the oldest and most widespread form of story on earth.” The knowledge these writers have to share will make us more effective hunter-conservationists.  Read More