Red Deer is one of a record 40 Canadian cities to join the City Nature Challenge 2022 which will run from April 29 to May 2.
More than 400 cities from more than 40 countries are registered to participate.
Last year, 52,770 people in 224 cities participated, recording more than 1.2 million sightings of 45,300 different species, including more than 1,300 rare or endangered species.
The challenge empowers ordinary citizens to help track wildlife species for science by using the free iNaturalist app to record species sightings and photos that are part of an international biodiversity database.
People are encouraged to make observations of wild plants, animals, fungi, algae, as well as organisms such as bacteria and lichens.
“It’s kind of a way to participate in science, without being a scientist,” said Red Deer project administrator Zach Dempsey.
“There is so much diversity in Red Deer. A lot of people don’t even necessarily realize it.
The Red Deer Project encompasses Red Deer County and Lacombe County, and includes Red Deer, Lacombe, Bentley, Blackfalds, Bowden, Eckville, Innisfail, Penhold and Sylvan Lake.
Canadian cities will compete to see which can engage the most people and rack up the most sightings.
He said Red Deer was part of the challenge in 2021. It took place during a COVID-19 lockdown, but Red Deer still had 1,292 sightings of around 250 species, which was pretty good considering it there were only 22 observers.
Last year, Calgary had the most sightings in Canada with 6,732, followed by Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area with 6,207.
He said the goal was to get high-quality images from multiple angles so that people around the world could identify the images and possibly use them in scientific research.
Dempsey, who is also an instructor at Red Deer Polytechnic, said last year that one of his student’s observations was used in a report on wolf spiders.
The Canadian Wildlife Federation has created a City Nature Challenge Canada project page on iNaturalist.ca that automatically adds participant sightings recorded in each city.
For more information, visit citynaturechallenge.org A video tutorial on how to make a sighting is available at inaturalist.org/pages/video+tutorials.
iNaturalist’s Seek app can also be used to collect sightings. No user data is collected, which makes it safe for children and families.
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