Connecting people with nature in Ontario's Mississippi Valley

Wild Turkey Session Spawns Controversy

Press Release
Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists
Submitted by Cliff Bennett
January 18, 2004

Wild Turkey Session Spawns Controversy  

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(Photo by: Tine Kuiper)

Several key issues emerged during question period following a presentation on the re-introduction of wild turkeys in Eastern Ontario at the monthly meeting of the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists, Thursday, Jan. 15 in Almonte. Guest presenter, videographer Franziska vonRosen, showed her noted Pinegrove Productions video entitled Reintroducing the Wild Turkey and MNR wild turkey specialist Scott Smithers followed up with a power-point presentation on the current status of the huge game bird in Lanark County and area.

Introduced by MVFN host for the evening Al Potvin, vonRosen told of the making of the video, indicating key features. She noted the drive to reintroduce wild turkeys to the area came from the Ontario Anglers and Hunters, supported by local fish and game clubs and the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. The initial purpose was to provide a game bird for hunting purposes.

Following the viewing of the video, Smithers presented copious statistics on the populations of wild turkeys in different areas leading up to the controversy related to the fact that, due to the success of the population growth, the birds have become a nuisance to farmers because of crop damage.

In the lively discussions following the presentations, a Rosetta farmer asked why farmers have to bear the brunt of the cost of damage to their crops all because some hunters want a new hunting experience. He indicated farmers are already suffering heavily from deer and Canada goose population explosions. In answer to another controversial question, Smithers indicated there was no historical evidence that wild turkeys existed in Lanark County prior to 1992 when the first ones were set loose, making the term re-introduction a misnomer.

After the quest speakers were thanked and presented with a gift of local honey products by Michael MacPherson and Jim Bendell, the discussions continued over refreshments. In the end, the protagonists agreed to disagree but all agreed there is a growing problem with wild turkeys and MNR has to act positively and soon, to remediate the situation.

The February 19 meeting of MVFN will feature a presentation on the black rat snake, which is on the endangered species list. Guest speaker will be MNR Biologist Shawn Thompson. For information about MVFN and its programmes, log on to mvfn.ca

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Field Naturalists Focus On Community Forest Plan

Press Release
Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists
November 5, 2002
Submitted by: Cliff Bennett

Field Naturalists Focus On Community Forest Plan  

TreeWhen the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources downloaded management of County forests to County governments last year, the County of Lanark decided to appoint a team of three experts (The Management Team) to set up a Business Plan to manage the lands. Part of the team’s mandate was to involve the public in consultations throughout the process. Recently, the management team, produced a draft of the plan and sent it out to various groups for comments. Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists (MVFN) was one of those groups.

MVFN has been involved with the process since the beginning. They attended public meetings and responded to survey questionnaires. MVFN member and Chair of the MVFN Natural Resources Issues Committee Dr. Jim Bendell, participated on the plan’s advisory committee. Recently, a small group of interested MVFN members met to pour over the Draft Plan and submit it’s comments on behalf of MVFN.

Key to the response to the Draft Plan was an appeal for inventory of all of the natural aspects of the community forested lands, recognizing that good management of these resources cannot proceed in an orderly way without knowing what is there. In a call for a broadening of the vision for our community lands, MVFN also appealed to the County for more public input into the final document before it goes to County Council on Nov. 13, for approval.

Recognizing that our community forested lands contain more values that just timber production, values such as tourism, recreation, social and spiritual attributes, MVFN recommends that these lands always remain within the public domain on behalf of the people of Lanark County.

MVFN welcomed the opportunity to participate in this important challenge and offers to help to advance the cause in anyway it can. Overall, MVFN congratulates the Management Team of Jim McCready, David Oliver and Chair and chief facilitator Gord Harrison for championing this project. Through their efforts and the process, the public is now aware that these lands exist.

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Burnt Lands Alvar Walk

Press Release
Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists
June 13, 2002
Written by Sarah Coulber

Almonte Home to Precious and Rare Ecosystem

The sun shone for an enthusiastic group who explored the Burnt Lands Alvar, (Almonte area) with Shaun Thompson of the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR). Organized by the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists (MVFN), it was a welcomed opportunity to learn about this rare ecosystem. All alvars are unique and exist only in Sweden and the Great Lakes Basin which adds significance to our alvar!

Alvars occur only on limestone bedrock covered with little or no soil. Shaun showed us areas where the frost heaved the soil and rock and explained that the shallow depth of soil partly contributes to the stress of plants and animals that live there, making survival in the cold winters and hot summers difficult. Some of the native inhabitants that have adapted to alvars (some of which were spotted) include the stunning blue-eyed grass, yellow lady slipper orchids, smooth green snakes and red-bellied snakes.

This valuable land has recently been transferred from the Department of National Defense to the MNR, Ontario Parks and the Nature Conservancy of Canada. A management plan will be created in the future to decide how to best protect and utilize this land.

Stay tuned for upcoming activities with the MVFN such as canoe outings and the fall program listing.

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