A new app developed by the Kensington North Watersheds Association will help P.E.I. wildlife staff track and tailor wildlife management across the province.
The P.E.I. Nature Tracker app is undergoing testing and may be launched later this year, says Garry Gregory, a conservation biologist with the fish and wildlife section of the Department of Community, Land and Environment.
"It's essentially a smartphone app that provides a tool for people to be able to record their wildlife observations while in the field, in the woods," he said.
"It's very useful for us as fish and wildlife because we can use that distribution information to tailor our management towards particular species of conservation concern."
App users will be able to click on a map of Island communities to see what species have been seen in that region, when they were seen and a description of the sighting. Users are also able to upload photos and descriptions to the app.
"The thought behind it was there are some pretty active people in the province, including watershed workers, that spend a lot of time in wildlife habitat and it provides a great opportunity to collect some information on the distribution status of our wildlife species," Gregory said.
The app is Android compatible and an iPhone version is in the works. Testing will continue over the summer with watershed groups and be launched in the fall.
To date, $4,000 has been invested in the app — half from agrochemical company Syngenta Canada, with the other half coming from the P.E.I. Wildlife Conservation Fund and Malpeque Bay Credit Union. The P.E.I. Watershed Alliance still needs to raise several thousand dollars before the app becomes a reality.
The province is involved in an advisory role and assisting with promotion and communication.
P.E.I. Watershed Alliance chair Dale Cameron says the app has the potential to develop into a central database for the groups.
He adds the public are encouraged to use it for any sightings they may observe.
Gregory said there is a list of species that wildlife staff are particularly interested in having people keep an eye out for, but adds if somebody is particularly interested in recording any wildlife they see, they are certainly able to do so.
Have you seen the smooth green snake?
One of the species on the list Gregory hopes someone spots is the smooth green snake that was last recorded a decade ago.
"It's a species that we think we still have in the province and we have the habitat to support it," said Gregory.
"We're hoping that in particular the watershed groups that spend a lot of time in those habitats may stumble across one in their work and is then able to document the occurrence of that species in a way that is particularly useful for us."