A Panda was spotted in Paulatuk

Over the last few years they have been observing salmon, bald eagles, and most recently a turkey vulture, as southern species expand into new habitat now made available through climate change. Last week was the first time a WWF “Panda” was spotted in the community.
Now that WWF has established our  office in Inuvik, NWT, we are visiting the smaller Inuvialuit communities in the Mackenzie Delta and along the coast of the Beaufort Sea.  Last week, I visited Paulatuk, a community of just over 300 people and the shores of Darnley Bay.  In the native language, Paulatuuq means “place of coal”- named so because of abundant coal reserves and the “Smoking Hills” 100 km west of the community where coal seams continually smoulder.  The purpose of the trip was to present to the local government and Hunters and Trappers Committee (HTC) on the work WWF is doing in the region and across the Arctic, as well as look for opportunities to support on-the-ground conservation efforts.
I also used the opportunity to visit the local school, where I was joined by the chair of the HTC to make a presentation to the high school class (only about 20 students present in grades 7-11). We discussed how youth can become involved in community-based monitoring of wildlife and the environment, through observing, monitoring, and learning from ecological changes due to global warming, industrial development, and other natural or man-made processes in the North.
The highlight for me was giving a presentation to the enthusiastic and adorable K/1 and 2-4 classes.  Many of the young hunters were eager to share their stories of beluga hunting with their families. They made some drawings about their favourite animals and answered why the ocean was important to them and their families.  Here are a few of my favourites:
“The ocean is important to me and my family because there is whales, seals and fish and other things.”
“The ocean is important to me and my family because we need our animals in the ocean to eat.”
“The ocean is important to me and my family because it is a public ocean.”
“The ocean is important to me and my family because we hunt whales and if they litter in the water or spill oil the animals can die.”

(C) Dan Slavik/ WWF-Canada