Man on a migratory mission
During more than 30 years as a wildlife biologist, Scott Grindal has seen a lot. The buzzing and dramatic booming noises made from the vibrating wings of nighthawks as their shadowy figures dive and soar are just a few of many things that still fill him with awe. They also impress upon him the importance of conservation research and the unique role that natural gas and oil producers can play in conserving wildlife and improving conditions for biodiversity.
Scott is the senior environmental coordinator for biodiversity and water for ConocoPhillips Canada, and has supported operations in the Canadian arctic, offshore east coast, oil sands, and Peru. Growing up on a farm spawned his love of the outdoors and wildlife; as a child, he was curious about how animals lived, and how their populations were maintained. This led him to pursue a career in wildlife biology, completing degrees in ecology, biology, and endangered species management.
One of his most memorable early career experiences occurred while on an international conservation scholarship. At that time, the Mauritius kestrel was the rarest bird in the world, teetering on the verge of extinction with only four remaining globally. With the help of a captive-breeding program and the dedication of a veritable army of wildlife biologists and ecologists (including Scott), today an estimated 300 to 500 Mauritius kestrels exist in the wild.
“That was something very meaningful to me, being able to help bring those species back from the brink of extinction,” said Scott.
Asked why he opted to join ConocoPhillips instead of working in academia or for a conservation group, Scott noted that he wanted to work at an organization with “the resources to make a difference, and where there was a high value put on environmental sustainability.”
“At ConocoPhillips, I have the opportunity and support from the organization to do things much more proactively to minimize impacts,” he said.
One of these efforts was connecting ConocoPhillips with the Smithsonian Migratory Connectivity Project (MCP). As it happens, a past colleague of Scott’s — Dr. Pete Marra — is the lead investigator for the MCP at the Smithsonian. Scott believes the project helps us understand bird migration routes as well as how we impact bird populations and their habitats.
Scott cites the project as a great example of what his work at ConocoPhillips is all about — engaging with industry colleagues and other stakeholders to put forward science that leads to positive environmental change. He also enjoys the opportunity to connect his work to his personal and family values. Scott and his partner Carol, also a wildlife biologist, have a nine-year-old daughter, Chloe, who is “perhaps a wildlife biologist-to-be.” Together, the family enjoys camping trips, wildlife adventures and the synchronicity of nature.
“I Iook at how all of these things in nature interact. For me, it’s not just about that bird flying away. I appreciate more so now the complexity and the effort behind that flight. A tiny songbird that weighs a few ounces and takes a 12,500-mile journey on an annual basis is amazing to me. More and more, I appreciate how incredibly interconnected these things are,” said Scott.
Read an extended profile of Scott Grindal on the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) website.