Improving Widescale Monitoring of Ectoparasite Presence in Northern Canadian Wildlife with the Aid of Citizen Science

In 2018, researchers from the University of Toronto and the Yukon Government's Animal Health Unit established a three-year citizen science program in the Yukon that saw hunters gathering samples from vulnerable moose and caribou populations in an effort to better monitor winter tick (Dermacentor albipictus) infestations in the territory. Through social media engagement, incentives, printed material and standardized sampling kits, participants were encouraged to submit hide samples along with completed collection information. The result was a 100-fold increase in submissions that helped researchers to expand their surveillance efforts hundreds of kilometres further north, identify unique winter tick populations, establish baselines for future research, and define priority areas . No ticks other than winter ticks were identified in the Yukon during the course of this study.