This past holiday season, TELUS took their corporate philanthropy to the next level – by asking their customers and audiences to vote for the projects and species they wanted to help most. The result? WWF-Canada projects to support salmon, polar bears, ivory gulls, painted turtles, loons and beluga whales received a total of $204,825.
Thank you to TELUS and all voters for voting for our projects and ensuring ongoing support for these important Canadian species! Here are the species and projects you supported in order of most popular.
Polar Bear – Polar bear/human conflict mitigation
With sea ice melting due to climate change, polar bears are spending more time off the ice and on the land – and in communities. Seeking food wherever they can find it, a growing number of bears are drawn to human settlements, where they pose a threat to people. These communities are too often forced to take lethal action as they defend their own lives and livelihoods.
That’s why WWF is stepping up to help keep people and bears safe by providing support to communities, through measures including: storage containers for meat, and hiring a monitor to patrol the streets of the communities after dark. In the Hamlet of Arviat, where WWF helped launch a pilot program with support from Coca-Cola Canada in 2010, ‘defence kills’ of bears have dramatically declined from eight to zero – one per season. WWF is now looking to expand this successful program, helping train members of other northern communities.
Beluga Whale – Protect at-risk whales
Belugas are sometimes called the white whales for their distinctive colour. They’re small – for a whale, that is – and usually range from 13 to 20 feet in length. They have distinct round foreheads and smooth and long backs with no dorsal fins. Belugas are extremely sociable mammals that like to stick close together and migrate in pods, ranging from a few individuals to hundreds of whales. They’re also the polyglots of the whale world and communicate in a wide variety of clangs, whistles and clicks in addition to their ability to imitate a lexicon of other sounds.
They are most commonly found in the Arctic, and a big portion of them summer in Canadian waters. A few small populations are found further south, including St. Lawrence estuary belugas. Unfortunately, some populations of belugas are being heavily impacted by rapid climate change, chemical and noise pollution as well as over-exploitation. Belugas depend heavily on this sea ice for protection from predatory killer whales, yet another threat that’s being magnified as sea ice retreats.
Salmon – How healthy are your waters?
Salmon are an important part of aquatic ecosystems, and are just one of the many important species that depend on, and reflect, the overall health of our waters. Until recently, there was no consistent, science-based way to measure how healthy Canada’s waters are across the country.
That’s why we launched our Freshwater Health Assessments. We assess the condition of water quality, water flow, fish, and bugs to grade our waters on a scale from very good to very poor. This will provide us with the crucial information needed to shape decisions about conserving and protecting water health. To date, we’ve assessed the health of 25% of all Canada’s rivers. Our goal is to assess all of Canada’s major water bodies by 2017 – just in time for Canada’s 150th birthday!
Painted Turtle – Threats to freshwater in Canada
In many places across Canada, freshwater species are at risk due to habitat loss, polluted waters, excessive water withdrawals, and disruptions from dams and diversions. WWF’s Freshwater Threats Assessment is identifying the top threats affecting water health across the country. Armed with these results, WWF will be able to work more strategically to protect freshwater species, like the Western Painted turtle, from these threats.
Loon – Threats to freshwater in Canada
A loon’s presence is a good sign of a healthy water ecosystem as it spends most of its life in water, swimming, diving and fishing. Loons, like many freshwater species are sensitive to threats like pollution, habitat disturbance and commercial development. In fact, around the world, freshwater species have declined by a massive 76 per cent due to threats to them and their habitats. For freshwater species, there are many pressures affecting the amount and quality of freshwater available to them – there’s only so much water available for people and wildlife to share.
That’s why WWF is working to determine the greatest threats to freshwater ecosystems and where they occur across the country, so we can work to reduce those threats and protect iconic species like the loon.
Ivory Gull – Migratory Arctic marine bird mapping
Every year, thousands of birds migrate to the Arctic Ocean, but relatively little is known about where they go and which areas provide critical habitat. This information is critical for understanding and supporting what these birds, like the Ivory Gull, need to thrive long-term, as the Arctic warms rapidly due to climate change. That’s why WWF is funding research to map the habitat of Arctic marine birds, with support from Coca-Cola.
TELUS and WWF-Canada
With a shared passion for conservation of nature and wildlife, TELUS and WWF are working together for Canadian species. Across Canada, habitat loss and degradation, pollution, invasive species, climate change and unsustainable harvesting have put over 500 species at the risk of extinction.
In November 2013, TELUS entered into a partnership with WWF-Canada to not only help face conservation challenges head on, but also provide opportunities for the community to help make a difference. TELUS is contributing $1,000,000 over four years to WWF-Canada conservation efforts across Canada.