Connecting people with nature in Ontario's Mississippi Valley

What can you do to help turtles?

Drive Carefully, it is Turtle Time in Lanark County

Be a good citizen scientist. Report your sightings to the Ontario Reptile and Amphibian Atlas.

The Midland Painted Turtle was recently listed as an at risk species STATUS: SPECIAL CONCERN. According to Ontario Nature: “Reptiles, including painted turtles, account for a large portion of the animals killed on Ontario’s roadways each year. Nesting females are particularly vulnerable to road mortality because they lay their eggs in the soft roadside shoulders. Add to that the historical loss of more than 70 percent of southern Ontario’s wetlands and it is not hard to see why the midland painted turtle is now at risk.”

Of the 8 species of turtle native to Ontario, only 6 species are found in our area of Eastern Ontario, and of these, all are now listed by COSEWIC as at risk species, as are all of Ontario’s turtle species.

Recommended on-line resource for more details and photos for these species: Species Guide – Toronto Zoo

1. Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina): STATUS: SPECIAL CONCERN Click here for more information about the Snapping Turtle

2. Eastern Musk Turtle aka Stinkpot turtle (Sternotherus odorata): STATUS:  SPECIAL CONCERN Click here for more information about the Eastern Musk or Stinkpot Turtle

3. Northern Map Turtle (Graptemys geographica): STATUS:  SPECIAL CONCERN Click here for more information about the Northern Map Turtle

4. Midland Painted Turtle (Chrysemys picta marginata) Turtle STATUS: SPECIAL CONCERN Click here for more information about the Midland Painted turtle 

5. Blanding’s Turtle (Emydoidea blandingii) : STATUS: THREATENED Click here for more information about the Blanding’s Turtle

6. Spotted Turtle (Clemmys guttata) : STATUS: ENDANGERED Click here for more information about the Spotted Turtle

 

Continue reading...

Boreal woodland caribou are threatened with extinction in CanadaDecades of science show the impacts of human activities and natural disturbances within their ranges. With increased disturbance comes increased risk.

Environment Canada has identified the “critical habitat” that caribou need to survive and recover. A team of North America’s leading caribou experts established a strong relationship between the extents of habitat disturbance and whether a local population increases, declines or remains stable. From this, the federal government determined a continuum of risk.

In 2012, the federal government gave provinces and territories five years to develop range plans for each herd that show how ranges will be managed to effectively protect critical habitat. The recovery strategy identifies a minimum of 65% undisturbed habitat in a range as the “disturbance management threshold,” which provides a 60% chance of the local herd surviving.

The five-year deadline for caribou range plans is coming up fast on October 5th.

The Forest Products Association of Canada (FPAC) is now casting doubt on the science to further delay action! The FPAC full-page newspaper ads and website ignore the overwhelming evidence.

The recovery strategy is clear: Less than half of Canada’s caribou populations are likely to survive unless cumulative disturbance is limited.

Caribou need their critical habitat protected now more than ever.

Please use your voice to support caribou and science.

Follow this link to act https://ontarionature.good.do/caribou_habitat/email/

Continue reading...

NOTE: The information below from Ontario Nature references a proposal currently open for public comment on the Environmental Registry. As we have noted previously on this website, the Environmental Registry is an important way for the public to send their concerns, information and feedback directly to people involved in making decisions affecting the natural world in Ontario. Once you register at the Environmental Registry site as a user of the site, your comments can be submitted in confidence and become part of the public record. It is easy to do, and useful. To see the files, and to comment you can do so at these links  EBR Number 012-9169 and also EBR Number 012-9170  See all the details from Ontario Nature below . . . 

. . . . or, go directly to the Ontario Nature page and sign the petitionto Ontario Natural Resources and Forestry Minister Kathryn McGarry:

CLICK HERE TO SIGN ONTARIO NATURE PETITION

“I oppose the proposal to continue the hunting of at-risk snapping turtles. The hunt is contrary to the best scientific evidence and your own ministry’s policy objective of sustaining wildlife populations. Snapping turtles cannot sustain the additional pressure of hunting. I also oppose the proposal to continue the hunting of bullfrogs, a species in decline in many parts of the province. The government must end the hunt now before this animal too becomes at risk in Ontario.”

Ontario Nature: It’s Crunch time:

After years of dithering, Ontario’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) is poised to make a critical decision about the hunting of snapping turtles. Lamentably, the ministry is proposing to continue the hunt, with the addition of some restrictions. Regardless of added restrictions, the continuation of the hunt runs contrary to the best advice of scientific experts.

Make no mistake; this compromise approach will not work for the at-risk snapping turtle, given its late age of maturity, low egg and juvenile survival rates and exceptionally high adult mortality due to an array of human-caused threats. The proposal is open for public comment only until January 30, 2017.

Let the government know that the hunt must end, period. Go to the Ontario Nature page to sign the petition. Secondly one can go to the EBR registry from using the EBR numbers links included above and comment directly to the files.

Further details:

The plan to continue the snapping turtle hunt is part of a broader policy proposal, to “streamline and modernize the management of small game and furbearer wildlife species in Ontario.” Bullfrogs are also implicated, along with many bird and mammal species. (More on the bullfrog below.)

Admittedly, the snapping turtle proposal is an improvement on the current deplorable situation. Right now, snapping turtles can be hunted year-round in some parts of the province and from July 15 to September 15 in other parts. The daily bag limit is 2 and the possession limit is 5. The proposal is to reduce the season to run from August 15 to September 15, with a daily bag limit of 1 and a possession limit of 2.

A change for the better, but certainly not what is needed. We need your help to convince the government to proceed to a full ban. Here’s why:

  1. Snapping turtle populations cannot sustain even small increases in adult mortality. The science is clear. Evidence from snapping turtle studies shows that the removal of adults or older juveniles will result in a population decline. Taking just one or two adults from a population on a yearly basis will lead to decline.
  2. Turtles are the most threatened taxa globally. Freshwater turtle abundances today represent only a fraction of their historical numbers. In fact, all but one of Ontario’s turtle species are at risk. The vulnerability of several turtle species, including the snapping turtle, was highlighted by a recent decision to list them under  CITES (the Convention on the International Trade of Endangered Species, an international agreement among governments), recognizing the pressure that harvest and trade have on this species.
  3. Snapping turtles face many threats; hunting adds to the cumulative impact. The main threats are habitat loss and road mortality. Other threats include boat mortality, fishing by-catch, mortality from dredging and construction, invasive species, persecution, illegal collection, exposure to toxic contaminants and more. Hunting is just one more peril that these turtles must face, on top of all the others. It’s completely unnecessary, could easily be addressed by the government.
  4. The hunt contradicts proposed provincial and federal management objectives, which aim to sustain populations. The hunt is not sustainable. It is in direct conflict with the management objectives of both the proposed provincial policy, which is “sustainable populations,” and the proposed federal management plan which is to sustain or increase populations across the country.  
  5. The snapping turtle is a species at risk. How can Ontario justify a hunt for a species that is on the road to extinction? It is also contrary to the purpose of the Endangered Species Act, 2007, which is to protect and promote the recovery of species at risk. If the hunt continues, Ontario will be one of only two provinces in Canada to allow it. Definitely not in good company.

Please join Ontario Nature in calling for an end to the hunting of snapping turtles and bullfrogs by the January 30 deadline. Be sure to reference EBR numbers 012-9170 AND 012-9169.

 

Continue reading...

SHOW YOUR LOVE FOR SPECIES AT RISK BY GETTING INFORMED ABOUT ONTARIO NATURE’S CHALLENGE TO THE ENDANGERED SPECIES ACT.

On April 19th the Ontario Court of Appeal will hear Ontario Nature’s case challenging a lower court ruling that puts already endangered species at further risk of extinction. The appeal challenges the Ontario Divisional Court’s decision to uphold a provincial regulation that exempts major industrial activities— including forestry, mining, energy, and residential development — from the strict protection standards outlined in the Endangered Species Act (ESA). In many instances, these exemptions give industries a free pass to kill endangered or threatened species and destroy their habitat, as long as this harm is “minimized.”

The following link is a reminder from Ontario Nature to speak out about this issue: https://ontarionature.thankyou4caring.org/showyourlove

Background from Ontario Nature website: http://www.ontarionature.org/protect/campaigns/lawsuit.php

  • 2007: The Ontario government passes the ESA, considered the gold standard law for species protection in North America.
  • July 1, 2013: The provincial Cabinet regulation under the ESA that dramatically weakens protection for Ontario’s at-risk wildlife came into effect. The regulation exempts many major industrial activities from the ESA, allowing them to dodge crucial protection measures. It also significantly reduces government oversight of harmful activities.
  • September, 2013: Ontario Nature joins forces with the Wildlands League to sue the government over the regulation.
  • May 29, 2015: Ontario’s Divisional Court upholds the provincial regulation.
  • September 2015: Ontario Nature and Wildlands League win the right to appeal this very disappointing decision.
  • April 19, 2016: The appeal will be heard in Toronto.

Why does it matter?

The survival of Ontario’s most vulnerable wildlife is now weighed against competing industrial interests, which may tip the scale towards extinction. Every single endangered and threatened species in the province is deprived of the full protection of the law.

Who else cares?

Click here to read the letter that Ontario Nature, and more than 50 other organizations, sent to Premier Kathleen Wynne asking that the Endangered Species Act be upheld. Nothing beats these words of wisdom from Ontario Nature’s Youth Council imploring the Premier to stand up for endangered species.

Continue reading...

Feature photo credit Diana Troya

NOTE: The following combines information just released by the government of Ontario and Ontario Nature:

Ontario has just released its draft Pollinator Health Action Plan for public review on the Environmental Registry. They are seeking public feedback on a draft action plan to improve pollinator health and reduce pollinator losses.

Public comments may be made on the Environmental Registry: Number:  012-6393 until March 7, 2016

Pollinators, including honey bees, are essential to Ontario’s agricultural sector and contribute approximately $992 million worth of economic activity annually to the economy. The province became the first jurisdiction in North America to protect bees and other pollinators through new rules introduced on July 1, 2015, to reduce the number of acres planted with neonicotinoid-treated corn and soybean seeds by 80 per cent by 2017.

Now, Ontario is looking for the public’s feedback on a proposed plan to improve pollinator health that will address:

  • Habitat and nutrition
  • Diseases, pests and genetics
  • Climate change and weather
  • Pesticide exposure.

The proposed plan will be posted on the Environmental Registry until March 7, 2016. Additionally, the public can also provide input on protecting pollinator health by completing a public survey.

Supporting pollinator health is part of the government’s plan to build Ontario up and deliver on its number-one priority to grow the economy and create jobs. The four-part plan includes investing in people’s talents and skills, making the largest investment in public infrastructure in the province’s history, creating a dynamic, supportive environment where business thrives and building a secure retirement savings plan.

Quick Facts

  • Ontario is home to more than 400 bee species, which are the most common pollinators.
  • Honey bees and some bumble bees are bred specifically for pollinating plants for food. A foraging honey bee will travel up to 3 km from the colony (and up to 10 km if food is scarce).
  • The province recently introduced a new Bee Mortality Production Insurance plan under the Agricultural Products Insurance Act to promote best management practices and allow farmers to manage their risk more effectively.

Additional Resources

The plan proposes actions to address four stress sources: habitat loss, disease, exposure to pesticides and climate change.

Read the Ontario government news release here:
https://news.ontario.ca/…/province-seeking-public-input-on-…

Ontario Nature is working with partners to assess the plan and provide recommendations. Learn more and stay informed by joining Ontario Nature’s Alert updates: http://www.ontarionature.org/prot…/campaigns/pollinators.php

The public is invited to comment on the draft Pollinator Health Action Plan on the Environmental Registry: Number 012-6393 until March 7, 2016

Continue reading...