Meetings - Past

Caring During Crisis (April 2007)

This meeting was organized to bring together any interested individuals, groups, or various governmental agencies who were concerned with the welfare of animals during disasters of various kinds. OERS was well represented by our Director Carin Wittnich who gave her talk on “How is animal welfare addressed within Canada’s emergency response plan” and 3 posters concerned with emergency response and animal care.

Carin’s presentation was very well received and the following discussions indicated the fact that there are no plans to evacuate people and their pets in Ontario or within any other province across Canada! At the local or municipal levels, people would be told to leave their pets behind in the case of an evacuation which would not only cause undue stress on both the pets and their owners but also cause a very serious public health issue. Both Mike Belanger (OERS President) and Carin were bombarded with questions and concerns from numerous agencies and interested animal welfare groups about how little information, planning or training there seems to be available. As lead Non Governmental Organization for the Canadian Veterinary Reserves, OERS will be taking a leadership role in planning and organizing evacuation and rescue plans dealing with pets, livestock and wildlife!

The 3 posters dealt with the decontamination of animals following a disaster, the role of Non-Governmental Organizations in the Canadian Veterinary Reserves, and the organization of rescue teams in response to emergencies. Steve Soric, an OERS volunteer, shared his Hurricane Katrina experiences of decontaminating animals that were exposed to a wide range of contaminants and toxic materials. All 3 posters were well received and were a continual source of information and interest during the 3 day event.

This meeting demonstrated that there is more to do when it comes to the welfare and care of pets and other animals prior, during and after any emergency or disaster. As well, ALL levels of government should instigate and fund well conceived and practiced responses in coordination with any interested Non Governmental Organization who would offer the local expertise and volunteers necessary to protect public health and our animal companions and wildlife.

Defenders of Wildlife’s Carnivores (Nov 2006)

OERS was honored to have an abstract accepted at this year’s Defenders of Wildlife’s Carnivores 2006 meeting held in St. Petersburg, Florida (Nov 12-15). The meeting focused on Habitats, Challenges and Opportunities where two leading threats to biological diversity were featured: invasive species and climate change. Climate change was the area in which OERS President Mike Belanger presented the abstract entitled: Climate Change, the Arctic Region and Preserving Endangered and Threatened Species.

Other speakers described their work on the following: climate change on Harp & Hooded seals, the impacts of diminishing snow on Ringed seals, climate change effects on Polar bear ecology. The crowd was enthusiastic and the presenters were well received.

There was a very interesting session on Sea otters and body size/growth/condition, persistence of oil spills in shore sediments, recovery/foraging patterns and prey selection, and movement patterns of female and male otters. New scientific data on Pinnipeds, Polar bears and Sea otters was acquired what will be used to update the second edition of the OERS course and lab notes.

EchoHealth One – Madison, WI (Oct 2006)

OERS had a strong presence at the inaugural EchoHealth One 2006 Conference held at the University of Madison, Wisconsin with 2 abstracts accepted for oral presentations. There was a diverse audience made up of students from various programs including veterinary and human medicine, graduate and post doctoral trainees. As well, scientists from social, environmental, marine, toxicology and bacteriology specialities were in attendance. This was unique and occurred because of the strong emphasis on human-environmental-animal interactions in the program.

The first of our 2 presentations described mercury accumulation in a mother/fetus and calf harbour porpoise from the east coast of Canada, illustrating mercury levels have increased in the region over the last decade and that this begins in utero and progresses postnatally. The second oral presentation dealt with factors involved in the industrialization and urbanization in the Queensland, Australia region and the use of yearly rainfall as a predictor of dugong mortality.

Both presentations were well received and resulted in a lively question period for both. OERS caught the eye of a number individuals representing stranding networks and research programs (incl NOAA) in the US. These groups had not been aware of our work in the areas of conservation and pollutants and new contacts and links were forged.

Society for Marine Mammology – San Diego, CA (Dec 2005)

Nesime AskinThe news was terrific! All 3 of our abstracts were accepted as posters at the 16th Biennial Conference of the Society of Marine Mammals in San Diego, California and everyone at OERS was excited and pleased. The 16th conference was an international gathering of scientists, marine mammalogists as well as other interested groups, all there to help improve the biology and science of marine mammals. Michael Belanger

The first poster consisted of the amount of Teflon in the environment and its effect on marine mammals. The second showed that the survival of the Florida manatee was being threatened by changing factors and the third demonstrated that the number of marine mammal strandings worldwide were still rising and posed a serious threat a number of species.

The response to OERS’ work was positive and stimulated the exchange of news theories and ideas.

Interested ViewersThe 7 day long meeting was informative and filled with numerous scientific talks ranging from the latest about diseases in marine mammals, how to treat injured/beached animals, the history of whaling and its effects on populations today and new medical procedures.

There were 5 days of poster sessions which featured scientific work from almost every country in the world. It was great exposure for OERS and at the same time networking with many individuals who shared the same interests.