Volume 9 • January 2024

Note of appreciation

Research Articles

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Vol. 9pp. 1–14
Assessing cat local abundance provides information on where wandering cat numbers are highest and what habitats or factors are associated with wandering cats. A variety of stakeholders can lead this research and then use the findings to make scientifically informed decisions to guide the physical locations of cat management actions. Here, we document a framework that engages community members, uses minimal equipment (six trail cameras), and provides scientifically derived information for interested parties to inform, direct, or test the effectiveness of cat management practices. Using these methods in Gatineau, Quebec, Canada, we demonstrate how we estimated cat population size and cat local abundances across a variety of co-variates while accounting for non-perfect detection by using 55 trail camera sites and N-mixture models. Urban areas had three-fold higher local wandering cat abundances than parkland areas, and neighbourhoods below the median income had the highest local abundances of wandering cats. We estimated there are between 8905 and 48,419 (mean 21,298) wandering cats in Gatineau, with 18%–73% of those cats being unowned. These findings can be used to identify locations for future cat management. If estimates of cat abundance are repeated, they can assess the effectiveness of management actions.
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Vol. 9pp. 1–10
Genetic testing's increased availability has raised concerns about “genetic discrimination” (GD), where individuals may face unfair treatment, particularly when purchasing personal insurance, because of their genetic characteristics. In 2017, Canada passed the Genetic Non-Discrimination Act (GNDA) to prevent GD. This manuscript reviews post-GNDA life insurance application forms and compares them with pre-2014 application forms to assess the impact of the GNDA on insurance practices in Canada. Based on our comparative assessment, we found that the GNDA has had a modest impact on the practice of life insurers in Canada. Our study also confirms that questions about family history of disease and broadly formulated inquiries are still used on life insurance application forms. Both can, in the absence of clear instructions, lead applicants to disclose protected genetic information.
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Vol. 9pp. 1–13
The objective of this study is to examine the potential cardiovascular risk of climate-related declines in seafood consumption among First Nations in British Columbia by assessing the combined effects of reduced omega-3 fatty acids and mercury intake from seafood on the risk of myocardial infarction (MI) in 2050 relative to 2009. The data were derived from the First Nations Food, Nutrition, and Environment Study. Seafood consumption among 369 randomly selected participants was estimated, and hair mercury concentrations were measured. Declines in seafood consumption were modelled based on previously projected climate change scenarios, and the associated changes in nutrients and contaminants were used to estimate the cardiovascular risk. Reduced seafood consumption was projected to increase the risk of MI by 4.5%–6.5% among older individuals (≥50 years), by 1.9%–2.6% in men, and by 1.3%–1.8% in women under lower and upper climate change scenarios, respectively. Reduced seafood consumption may have profound cardiovascular implications. Effective strategies are needed to promote sustainable seafood harvests and access to seafood for coastal First Nations.
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Vol. 9pp. 1–11
This paper examines fish consumption advisories (FCAs) as a site of transboundary governance in the Upper St Lawrence River with the aim of identifying opportunities for enhanced coordination and power sharing to address environmental injustices. The Upper St Lawrence River is part of the Great Lakes watershed of North America and the traditional territory of multiple Indigenous Nations, as well as the present-day jurisdictions of Ontario (Canada), Quebec (Canada), and New York State (USA). Through an analysis of publicly available information on FCA programs, we examine similarities and differences in these programs across jurisdictions. We find an overall lack of coordination in fish monitoring and differences in consumption advice for a waterway in which fish may easily move between transboundary areas. We offer recommendations for improving FCAs in this transboundary waterway from the lens of environmental justice, focusing on (1) a shared and transparent approach to monitoring contaminant levels and fish species; (2) integration of cultural food practices; (3) enhanced outreach to angler populations; and (4) upholding the self-determination of Indigenous communities. We also underscore that FCAs should not be seen as a permanent solution. Preventing and reducing contaminants, including associated harm reduction in communities affected by FCAs, need to be priorities.
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Vol. 9pp. 1–12
We evaluated whether naphthenic acid fraction compounds (NAFCs) extracted from oil sand tailings adversely affect fish survival and behaviour. Following a before–after-control-impact design, we housed wild-caught juvenile yellow perch (Perca flavescens) in outdoor mesocosms to assess survival and behaviour under baseline conditions, then exposed fish to one of three treatments: negative control, 2 mg/L NAFC, or 15 mg/L NAFC. We performed behavioural assays (no-stimulus activity, food stimulus, and predator stimulus using a model bird) and assessed a comprehensive suite of endpoints (equilibrium losses, activity, shoaling, burst swimming, freezing, and space use). We found that exposure to 15 mg/L NAFCs substantially reduced fish survival and impaired fish equilibrium in all three behavioural tests. Furthermore, exposure to NAFCs impaired anti-predator behaviour: while the activity of control fish increased by two-fold in response to a predator stimulus, fish exposed to 2 or 15 mg/L NAFC did not change their activity levels after stimulation. No significant changes were observed in other behavioural endpoints. Overall, our findings suggest that a week-long exposure to NAFCs at concentrations commonly found in tailings ponds, constructed wetlands, and other mining-impacted waters may affect multiple facets of fish behaviour that could ultimately lead to reduced fitness in fish populations.
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Vol. 9pp. 1–18
Marine protected area (MPAs) networks can buffer marine ecosystems from the impacts of climate change by allowing species to redistribute as conditions change and by reducing other stressors. There are, however, few examples where climate change has been considered in MPA network design. In this paper, we assess how climate change considerations were integrated into the design of a newly released MPA network in the Northern Shelf Bioregion in British Columbia, Canada, and then evaluate the resulting network against projected physical and biogeochemical changes and biological responses. We found that representation, replication, and size and spacing recommendations integrated into the design phase were met in most cases. Furthermore, despite varying degrees of projected changes in temperature, dissolved oxygen, and aragonite saturation across the MPA network, suitable habitat for demersal fish species is projected to remain in the network despite some redistribution among sites. We also found that mid-depth MPAs are particularly important for persistence, as fish are projected to move deeper to avoid warming in shallower areas. Our results highlight that a representative MPA network with adequate replication, that incorporates areas of varying climate change trajectory, should buffer against the impacts of climate change.
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Vol. 9pp. 1–28
The International Guidelines on Human Rights and Drug Policy recommend that states commit to adopting a balanced, integrated, and human rights-based approach to drug policy through a set of foundational human rights principles, obligations arising from human rights standards, and obligations arising from the human rights of particular groups. In respect of the Guidelines and standing obligations under UN Treaties, Canada must adopt stronger and more specific commitments for a human rights-based, people-centered, and public health approach. This approach must commit to the decriminalization of people who use drugs and include the decriminalization of possession, purchase, and cultivation for personal consumption. In this report, we will first turn to the legal background of Canada's drug laws. Next, we will provide an overview of ongoing law reform proposals from civil society groups, various levels of government, the House of Commons, and the Senate. We end with a three-staged approach to reform and a series of targeted recommendationscr.

Note

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Vol. 9pp. 1–11
Alberta grizzly bears are classified as a threatened species in the province of Alberta as of 2010, with human-caused mortality and habitat loss a primary threat. The people who live, work, and recreate within bear habitat play a crucial role in their conservation. While the public is often enthusiastic about grizzly bears, and opportunistically report their observations to government staff, these reports are not systematic or rigorously collected and lack key information. As such, we developed GrizzTracker as a community science program. Following several years of successful deployment, we analyzed community scientist data and evaluated the efficacy of the program through an online user survey. We found that the GrizzTracker app was useful as a data collection and public engagement tool, yielding information for applied management, and that community scientists were generally satisfied. We provide considerations for future program development, including considerations for human, social, technological, and financial capital investment related to design, development, and implementation of data collection protocols, the importance of clearly communicating outcomes, and opportunities for educational outreach. While there is continued trepidation by traditionally trained scientists to develop or engage in community science programs, and some noted areas of improvement for our program specifically, we think that GrizzTracker offers a success story in community science.

Correction

List of Issues
Volume 9
Issue
January 2024
Volume 8
Issue
January 2023
Volume 7
Issue
January 2022
Volume 6
Issue
January 2021
Volume 5
Issue 1
January 2020
Volume 4
Issue 1
June 2019