Putting Wildlife First

Fascinated by the animal kingdom in general and marine mammals and birds in particular, Pierre-Yves Daoust has dedicated his career to wildlife conservation. By combining these interests with his penchant for science, he has become a recognized veterinarian and pathologist.

His childhood in Valleyfield (Montréal region) did not seem to predestine him for a career as a wildlife pathologist in Prince Edward Island. But when he enrolled in university, he was faced with two choices: biology or veterinary medicine. The opportunity to work in closer contact with animals created an inexplicable desire, and he ended up opting for veterinary medicine.

After completing his PhD in veterinary medicine in 1974 at the Université de Montréal, he decided to specialize in animal pathology. Always in search of new experiences, Pierre-Yves Daoust settled in the Prairies, far away from the world of marine mammals. In 1981, he earned a PhD in Anatomic Pathology at the University of Saskatchewan. He later expanded his expertise in anatomical pathology thanks to his certification from the American College of Veterinary Pathologists.

For 30 years, he has taught the pathology of domestic and wild animals at the University of Prince Edward Island. He also continues to pursue his wildlife diagnostic work as well as his particular interest in seals.

Pierre-Yves Daoust began studying marine mammals in the early 90s. From porpoises to seals, from pilot whales to fin whales, his work focuses on the diseases that affect them as well as the impact that human activities have on these species.

In the summer of 2017, he became the focus of much attention when he co-directed the necropsies of seven right whales and co-authored the report on right whale mortality in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. For him, addressing this type of mortality event is urgent and demands close collaboration with other specialists to identify the appropriate solutions. But discussions have been slow-going and the animals are not waiting.

A year ago, he undertook a research project on the consumption of ringed seal meat by Inuit communities in Nunavut, namely in the village of Pond Inlet. The goal of this project is not only to better understand the health status of this species, but also to work closely with community members to better understand their own perceptions of the rapid changes now taking place in the Arctic. His approach to science places collaboration at the heart of conservation.