Wolverine (Gulo gulo) conservation and perceptions by local populations: Case studies in Sweden and the Northwest Territories, Canada

Regions: North Slave Region

Tags: traditional knowledge

Principal Investigator: BONAMY, MORGANE MB (2)
Licence Number: 15456
Licensed Year(s): 2016 2014
Issued: Apr 10, 2014

Objective(s): To study the biogeography, the ecology, and the human-animal relationships of wolverines across the Northern Circumpolar Region in two study sites: Northwest Territories, Canada and Sweden.

Project Description: This PhD project aims at studying the biogeography, the ecology, and the human-animal relationships of wolverines (Gulo gulo) across the Northern Circumpolar Region in two study sites: Canada (NWT) and Sweden. The collected biogeographical, ecological and ethno-biological data will provide a detailed knowledge of wolverines’ ecological and socio-cultural status across the Circumpolar North, which is critical for the elaboration of future conservation and environmental education strategies and for mitigating conflicts.

Ethno-biological study will look at perceptions, attitudes and knowledge about this species by using interviews and questionnaires with indigenous people and local communities in order to better understand the human-animal context.

Participants: adults (18 years and up), males and females from the NWT (local people and first nation people) Kids (9 to 11 years), and students from an NWT school.

Questionnaire: This study will use a short questionnaire containing 20 closed or semi-closed questions in English. This questionnaire will be voluntary and the same questionnaire will be used for all adult participants.

Individual semi-structured interviews:
These semi-structured interviews will focus on the perceptions and traditional knowledge among Déné communities regarding wolverines. The research team will use a list of questions to help orient the discussion. When the interviewee is Aboriginal the interview may take the form of the telling of life stories rather than a formal interview. In this case the person will simply talk about his or her personal experiences with this animal. In each case interviews will be recorded unless the interviewee does not give their consent. The interviews will vary between 20 minutes and one hour.

Focus groups: In some cases, small groups (about 3 to 5 people) may be used to answer questions rather than one-on-one interviews. The goal of such focus groups will be to discuss a narrow range of subjects or a particular question. In such cases the principal investigator will have a list of questions; however, the focus of such meetings will be more flexible than in the one-on-one interviews. Participation in a focus group will be voluntary and will vary between 20 minutes and one hour.

Class of student: Some classes will be chosen to answer surveys about wolverines. The goal of this activity will be to improve the perception of the student’s attitude toward wolverines and their knowledge about this species. This survey will be done in class and under the supervision of their teacher.

This project will represent a partnership between the local people and the research team. As such, any personal of community involvement would be recognized in any publications that may result from this work. This partnership will offer the local people an opportunity to share their knowledge about the wolverine with the greater scientific community at large. Such information will prove useful for conservation and educational programs.

Involving kids in this research through their schools will not only provide information about how the youth perceive this large carnivorous species, but will also offer them an opportunity to learn more, both through their involvement in this project and by asking their families about wolverines.

Once the results have been analyzed, the research team will send a report summarizing the results of this study to the communities involved. The research team also intend to return to the communities that participated in this project to present the results of this study to those interested. This can involve the presentation of a poster which then remains in the community. Additionally, any participant in the study may receive a copy of the final report if they wish.

The fieldwork for this study will be conducted from May 1, 2014 to June 20, 2014.