Wildlife research, observation and handling

Wildlife Care Committee

What is the Northwest Territories Wildlife Care Committee?

The Wildlife Care Committee (WCC) makes sure wildlife in the Northwest Territories (NWT) is treated safely and humanely. Members of the committee include specialists in wildlife handling and research.

One role of the WCC is to review and recommend approval of the wildlife handling protocols used in wildlife research. 

Does the WCC need to review my project?

Any person or organization applying for a Wildlife Research Permit, where the study involves the handling of vertebrates other than fish, must also submit an Application to Handle Wildlife to the WCC. This application includes a detailed description of all planned animal handling activities that must be reviewed by the WCC.

Even if your project has already been approved by another government, university or institutional animal care committee, it must still be reviewed by the WCC before you can carry out any research in the NWT involving the handling of wildlife.  

See Responsibilities of Investigators for more information on doing research involving the handling of wildlife in the NWT.  

See Tips for Researchers for more information on how to design studies that will reduce impacts on handled wildlife. 

How do I submit an application to handle wildlife?

If your research entails handling wildlife you must apply for a special permit from the Wildlfe Care Committee as well as applying for a Wildlife Research Permit.

  1. Apply for a Wildlife Research Permit before applying for a permit to handle wildlife.
  2. Submit an Application to Handle Wildlife
  3. Submit a Wildlife Handling Report once your research is completed, by mail, fax or email.
  4. Keep the protocol, provided by the Wildlfe Care Committee) for five years.

How is my application reviewed? 

The members of the WCC will review and assess all Applications to Handle Wildlife within 14 working days of receiving the application.

The WCC members will review the application make sure all proposed procedures comply with the Guidelines on the Care and Use of Wildlife and the Guide to the Care and Use of Experimental Animals developed by the Canadian Council on Animal Care, and with WCC Standard Operating Procedures. If the proposed protocol varies from those guidelines, justification for the variance on scientific grounds will be required. 

Where necessary, the WCC can request further information from the investigator or meet with the investigator to make sure all members of the committee understand the procedures to be used when handling wildlife.

Committee members forward their review and comments to the committee Chair, who will document all WCC comments and recommendations on an individual Protocol Review Form.

The Committee Chair provides to the authority issuing the Wildlife Research Permit a recommendation on whether the Application to Handle Wildlife should be:

  • Approved 
  • Approved with conditions  
  • Not recommended for approval
  • Insufficient information for recommendation

How will I be notified? 

The Committee Chair will send a letter with a copy of the Protocol Review Form to the main investigator.

Please keep your approved Protocol Review on file for at least five (5) years.  Refer to the approval protocol review in each subsequent application for a Wildlife Research Permit that uses the same animal handling protocols.

How long is the approval valid? 

Your approved protocol is valid for the duration of your project. However, it must be reviewed annually. The main investigator must complete and forward a WCC Wildlife Handling Report Form each year before field work is continued. 

How often do reviews take place?

The WCC will review the completed Wildlife Handling Report Form successful applicants are required to submit on completion of a project or on an annual basis for continuing projects.  

The WCC may, once a project has been approved and is underway: 

  • recommend to the authority issuing the Wildlife Research Permit that any objectionable procedure be stopped if the committee considers unnecessary pain or distress is being experienced by the animal
  • recommend to the authority issuing the Wildlife Research Permit the immediate termination of use of animals which deviates from the approved proposal, if it causes pain and distress to such animals
  • review the circumstances of any animal fatalities or injuries during animal handling projects as reported by the investigator, and make recommendations to either alter or discontinue the research
  • investigate third party reports of animal suffering, injuries, mortalities or other negative impacts during research or other animal handling projects

How do I make modifications to an approved protocol?

If you are planning any significant changes, you must submit a new application  for review. 

In the case of continuing projects, the WCC must review any modifications to a previously approved protocol before changes are implemented.  

How do I appeal a recommendation?

Your appeal must be made in writing to the Director of Wildlife, Environment and Natural Resources.

The WCC will consider appeals to recommendations on the request of the Director of Wildlife, who may ask the Committee to reconsider an application in light of any new information provided by the applicant. The Director of Wildlife may also send the appeal to an independent expert for advice.

Access to WCC records

The WCC maintains records on each Application to Handle Wildlife, and keeps a copy of all documents associated with the application, review and recommendation process on file for at least five (5) years.

Any investigator can have access at any time to his/her own application records.  A request for these records must be made in writing to the Director of Wildlife, Environment and Natural Resources.

Any proprietary data included in these report forms will not be published or publicly presented without the prior written consent of the primary investigator.