This project will improve information on the status of breeding ospreys in the Kootenay Lake area. The project will also contribute to engaging and educating locals and catalyzing them to be active stewards of Kootenay Lake.
Osprey are a perfect indicator for aquatic ecosystem health. This is due in part by their almost exclusive diet of fish, their long lifespan, their strong nest fidelity, their global distribution, their tolerance to human development, their known sensitivity to human contaminants and their ability to accumulate most fat-soluble contaminants. As such, osprey are considered a worldwide sentinel species for aquatic ecosystems, and monitoring their reproductive success can help inform changes within aquatic food webs.
Free workshops are provided annually in May where interested stewards can learn how to monitor osprey nests and volunteer with Friends of Kootenay Lake to collect data on osprey breeding activity. Those who participate in the workshops receive an opportunity to assist us in our annual osprey monitoring surveys where we travel by boat up and down the lake. Citizen science opportunities are also available, where volunteers can monitor osprey nests on their own time and submit their data to FoKLSS.
The project supports and expands upon a citizen-science initiative that has been running since 1997 to monitor breeding Ospreys from Balfour to Waneta. As of 2022, Friends of Kootenay Lake has taken over the monitoring of the West Arm of Kootenay Lake. Previous to 2022, the Osprey Monitoring Program included only the North and South arms of the lake.
This project combines monitoring of a focal species with community engagement to help inform on-the-ground action projects for future years. The expected results of the project are to increase information on the status of breeding ospreys on Kootenay Lake and to develop a dedicated team of volunteers with the knowledge and equipment required to conduct long-term monitoring of breeding ospreys.
Long-term data sets recording Osprey breeding success can play a role in the recovery of this focal species on Kootenay Lake.