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Wildlife Wednesday – The Burrowing Owl, what a hoot!
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Wildlife Wednesday – The Burrowing Owl, what a hoot!

The Burrowing Owl is unlike most other owls. It lives in burrows underground, is active during the day, the female is smaller than the male, and its favourite foods are insects. This owl is drably coloured, with a mix of brown, white and beige spotting. To protect the female and the young, the male typically remains outside of the burrow to keep watch, standing upright on his long thin legs, so that he can see further. The Burrowing Owl can stand a whopping, 23-28cm tall! When threatened, the Burrowing Owl makes a hissing noise that sounds like a rattlesnake! Since the Burrowing Owl need sparsely vegetated grasslands with burrows excavated by badgers, ground squirrels or other mammals, finding a suitable habitat is becom difficult. However, the Burrowing Owl has come to find its ideal habitat in the regions of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. More specifically, the area of Govenlock. Govenlock is a region in southwest Saskatchewan where many species are found, like the Burrowing Owl. Govenlock’s luscious grasslands make for the ideal habitat for this owl. This owl is now Endangered, with many reasons due to population decline because of habitat degradation. [caption id="attachment_38583" align="alignleft" width="227"] © C. Wallis[/caption] Since the Burrowing Owl's rely on their burrows already excavated, and the mammals that excavate to create the burrows, are declining in population, these owls are unable to find suitable nesting sites. These mammals (badgers, ground squirrels) are regarded as pests by farmers and are being killed. Ground squirrels and foxes are also often killed with poison when they interfere with humans; and since the Burrowing owl feeds on the carcasses of the small animals,  they too are poisoned.  The Burrowing Owl now has a fighting chance at survival! With less use of pesticides, the Burrowing Owl has the potential to be saved. Now, we can focus on helping the species reproduce and flourish, so that it is present for many generations to come. If you share this information with your friends and family, they will learn about the Burrowing Owl and they can help the owl too! To help, if you live near or on farmland, protect the mammals that create the nesting sites for the Burrowing Owls! Also, if you live in rural areas, be careful when driving as foxes and squirrels tend to cross the street at any moment!

Swimming with Species – The Sei Whale
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Swimming with Species – The Sei Whale

Ever wonder how life is in the deep blue sea? What lives among coral reefs, undersea mountains and volcanos, grooves and caves? What the differences are between freshwater and saltwater biodiversity? What’s the biggest species? The fiercest? The weirdest? Well, we wondered too; and thus, let’s go Swimming with Species to find out all about animals that lurk in the waters around Canada!


Today’s species is the Sei Whale!

The Sei Whale gets its name from the Norwegian word, “seje” which means Pollack. It is fitting seeing as how the Sei whale is often found with the Pollack in Norway. The Sei whale is found all across the world both in subtropical, temperate and subpolar waters. They prefer mid-latitudes, and can be found in the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Ocean. In the summertime they are often found off the Gulf of Maine and Georges Bank (between Cape Cod, MA, USA, and Cape Sable Island, NS, CA). At the water’s surface, sei whales can be identified by their long sleek body that is a dark bluish-gray to black colour and white or cream-coloured underside. They also can be sighted by their 10 to 13 feet bushy blow. If you spot a Sei whale, you might also see oval-shaped scars (likely from cookie-cutter sharks and lamprey bites). But it's unlikely that you will see one, because Sei whales are fast swimmers, reaching speeds over 55kmh, so it’s possible that by the time you realize it’s a Sei whale, it’s already swam away! Sei whales have a tall, hooked dorsal fin located about two-thirds down their back. Instead of teeth, Sei whales have between 219 to 410 baleen plates (long, finger-nail like plates) which are dark in colour. These teeth make it easy for them to feed on plankton (including copepods and krill), small schooling fish and cephalopods (including squid) which all consist of its preferred diet. They both gulp and skim their food, and dawn is when the Sei whale is most likely to be feeding. On average, Sei whales eat 2,000 pounds of food per day. In order to feed, Sei whales dive below the surface, and can dive anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes to feed. Unlike other whales, Sei whales do not arch their back before diving, they simply sink below the surface. [caption id="attachment_38577" align="aligncenter" width="960"] A photo of a sei whale mother with her calf[/caption]  Although it is unknown where Sei whales breed, it is known that they generally mate and give birth during the winter in the lower latitudes. The females breed every 2 to 3 years and have a gestation period of 11 to 13 months. When born, their calves are about 15 feet long and already weigh 1,500 pounds! The mothers will burse their calves for 6 to 9 months before weaning them off. Sei whales become sexually mature at 6 to 12 years of age when they reach about 45 feet in length. As adults, Sei whales can grow up 50 feet long and weight as much as 100,000 pounds, with the females slightly larger than the males! Their average lifespan is between 50-70 years. Although Sei whales are largely solitary animals, they have been known to swim in small groups, up to 6 at a time and on rare occasions up to 50 during certain feeding periods. The Sei whale is known for creating low-pitched sounds for communication. The Sei whales are under various threats. The three largest threats are vessel strikes, entanglement and ocean noise. Unintentional vessel strikes can seriously injure or kill Sei whales. With increased sea traffic in shipping routes, the unintentional vessel strikes increase, and so does the ambient noise and pollution. Also, getting caught in the fishing gear is another large problem. Getting tangled in the pots, nets, and traps can result in swimming long distances with gears or nets attached, which causes fatigue. Fatigue can then compromise their feeding ability and/or injure them severely. Severe injury can lead to reduced reproductive success and death. As for ocean noise, since the Sei whale communicates with low pitched sounds, so, the underwater noise threatens their ability to communicate. It can also cause erratic behaviour and drive the Sei whales away from their feeding grounds.

Swimming with Species – The Porbeagle Shark!
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Swimming with Species – The Porbeagle Shark!

Ever wonder how life is in the deep blue sea? What lives among coral reefs, undersea mountains and volcanos, grooves and caves? What the differences are between freshwater and saltwater biodiversity? What’s the biggest species? The fiercest? The weirdest? Well, we wondered too; and thus, let’s go Swimming with Species to find out all about animals that lurk in the waters around Canada!


Today’s species is the Porbeagle Shark!

The Porbeagle shark is found in open seas in the Northern and Southern Hemisphere. In the North Atlantic, if you are anywhere from Newfoundland to New Jersey to Greenland and Russia, you might have the opportunity to witness one. But do not fear, the Porbeagle shark is known not to feed on other mammals, and is actually recognized for its playful behaviour!  The main diet of the Porbeagle shark consists of herring, lancetfish and mackerel. However, they do also dine on cod, redfish, haddock, squid and shellfish. Overall, their diet consists of pelagic (open sea) creatures. If you think you see a Porbeagle shark, look for its distinctive features. It has dark bluish-grey to bluish-black colouring on its back with white colour underneath. On its tail, it has a secondary keel underneath its longer primary keel. This shark has a stout head, with a pointed snout and large black eyes. Its teeth are small and smooth-edged narrow, with lateral cusps at the base of each tooth. But its most recognizable feature is the white spot at the base of the first dorsal fin. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EHmWe0Qj4w8 The Porbeagle shark joins the other species of sharks found in Canadian waters including the white shark, salmon shark, and shortfin mako. Different from other shark species', the Porbeagle shark has to keep moving in order to breathe. It also has a heat regulating mechanism that keeps its body temperature 3 to 8°C above the surrounding water temperature. This shark is limited to where it can go, and so, it spends most of its time in waters between 8 and 13°C. When not in the cooler waters, the mature female Porbeagle sharks migrate south to the seas between Cuba and Bermuda. It has also been seen near Brazil and Chile. It is in the warmer waters that the females pup, which occurs in late winter or early spring. Yet, their mating occurs in southern Newfoundland, in September to November. The Porbeagle shark prefers to remain in deep waters between 1,350 to 4,400 feet, but they often shift from shallow to deep, even being sighted in waters as shallow as 3.3 feet! The female can produce between 1-5 pups, but generally it is only four that are between 60-75cm long at birth. The female Porbeagles reach sexual maturity at a size of 217 cm long (which they reach around 13 years of age), while males mature at 174 cm (8 years old). The adults can reach a size of over 3 meters (10-12 feet)! Usually, it is only between 1.5-1.8 m and 135 kg (298 lbs). They have a life expectancy of 30-40 years, with most Porbeagle sharks indicating growth rings in the vertebrae that indicate at least 26 years of age before death. The biggest threat that the shark is facing is overfishing, both by fishing on purpose and by accident. This makes the Porbeagle very likely to be caught as bycatch. Luckily, directed fishing has been suspended, which does provide some hope for this helpless shark, but they still continue to be caught as bycatch. When caught, fisheries have strict rules that they must be returned to the water in a way that is least harmful. Since the fishing of the Porbeagle shark was suspended in 2013, no licenses that have been issued since that year. The population has not been estimated since 2009, but it was estimated between 197,000 to 207,000 individuals, including approximately 10,000 to 14,000 spawning females. The Porbeagles are very vulnerable to over-exploitation because they have a late age of maturity, and a small number of pups (average of 4 per litter). Sadly, the mortality rate for the Porbeagle shark is estimated at 100 tons per year (that is approximately 600-700 Porbeagle sharks per year). In addition to threats posed by fisheries, there are other human related threats. These threats include noise associated with offshore petroleum exploratory seismic surveys, and marine pollution. This species is endangered, but there are things you can do to help!
  • Learn about sharks to better understand them!
  • Reduce purchasing shark products, anything from meat to oils (found in any beauty items and health nutrition)
  • reduce your seafood consumption, this would also assist in stopping the accidental bycatch as seafood would be in less demand, so less fishing would occur.
  • In order to reduce pollution, begin your ‘Reduce, Reuse, Recycle’ regime! You have the potential to make a difference.
  • Lastly, share this with your friends and family so that can learn about this 'playful shark' that needs our help!

Wildlife Wednesday – Collared Pika-Boo!
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Wildlife Wednesday – Collared Pika-Boo!

Called ‘rock rabbit’, ‘whistling hare’ and ‘coonies’ by naturalists, this collared pika greatly resembles a small rabbit, but one with very short ears and small limbs. The Collared Pika is small (15-20cm in length) with a chubby body and rounded ears. It has grey fur, a bobbed tail and long whiskers. They get their common name, Collared Pika, from the distinctive patch on the nape of their neck, which looks like a collar! The Collared Pika weights approximately 160g, which is less than 1 pound! Pikas do not hibernate, so they do not store much body fat. To maintain their year-round active lifestyle they establish hidden food stocks in their territories. The Collared Pika is found in Alaska, British Columbia and the Yukon. They forage throughout the summer, collecting many different types of vegetation in their hidden stock. Once thought to be strict vegetarians, researchers found that their hidden stockpiles contains small songbirds that did not survive migration. After much analysis, it was found that they eat them as well. Collared Pikas are solitary animals, prefering to remain around 20-75m away from any neighbours. The Collared Pikas have a distinct sound (‘meep’) that marks their territory. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D-5nIpqeiPo For reproduction, Collared Pika’s locate their nearest neighbour to mate. They are considered monogamous, only because the men cannot cover and control enough ground to find more than one woman to mate with. Breeding occurs in May and early June. The females can have up to 2 litters per year, ranging between 2 to 6 young. The gestation period lasts 3 to 4 weeks (30 days) and the pikas reach adult size in 40 to 50 days. Both females and males are sexually mature by 1 year of age. The average life span is 6 years old. The Collared Pika is located in remote areas, and so, humans do not pose much of a threat to the Pikas. Their main threat is climate change. This adorable species has already been extirpated (no longer found in the wild in some areas) over the last few decades due to changes in habitat conditions.  The reason that climate change is affecting them most is because the high elevations that they are mostly found is witnessing rapid shifts in habitat and temperature, faster than anywhere else in Canada. The change in temperature is dangerous to the Pikas whose thermoregulatory ability have not adapted to the new temperature.  Also, the change in freeze-thaw patterns affect their food storage, which is their reason for survival over the winter. What needs to be done, is to slow down the effects of climate change. This involves your best efforts, and the efforts of all your friends and family. By learning about climate change and how it is affecting this species, and by sharing this with your peers, you can help save the Collared Pika. The Collared Pika is listed as a Special Concern, which means that it requires close watch as it can become threatened or endangered at any point. The Collared Pika still has the potential to survive the threats that climate change is posing on them! But it is up to you to share this with everyone!

Noise Monitoring won’t save the Orcas
Photo by Eileen Redding
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Noise Monitoring won’t save the Orcas

The federal decision last week to monitor underwater ship noise in BC's Salish Sea to aid the recovery of endangered Southern Resident Killer Whales recover is long-overdue. The Southern Resident population was listed as endangered under the federal Species at Risk Act in 2003 but the plan to help them recover wasn't finished until 2017. Transport Canada will work with the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority's Enhancing Cetacean Habitat and Observation (ECHO) program, which is looking at ways to reduce underwater noise in key areas for the whales. An underwater hydrophone will be installed at Boundary Pass in the Salish Sea to collect individual vessel and mammal noise profiles.  Transport Canada will also carry out a four-year project with support from the National Research Council of Canada to better predict propeller noise and hull vibration of a vessel. These measures will cost $1.6 million and are part of a $167.4-million federal Whales Initiative aimed at improving prey availability and reducing disturbance of the whales. But underwater noise monitoring and modelling will clearly not be enough as the number of vessels navigating the Salish Sea increases.  Urgent and mandatory reduction in shipping traffic and noise among other measures are essential if the extirpation of the Southern Resident Orca population is to be avoided.

Add your voice to demand that the federal cabinet issue an Emergency Order under the Species at Risk Act to help the Southern Resident Orcas today!


To read recent coverage of this topic, consult the following

Herping Around with the Blanding’s Turtle
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Herping Around with the Blanding’s Turtle

Ever wonder about unusual creatures? What’s it like to be cold-blooded? Or to breathe with your skin? Ever think about what it’s like to have scaly skin and no limbs? What about hoping versus walking? Or having a shell on your back? What’s the smartest species? The cutest? The strangest? Well, we wondered too; and thus, let’s go Herping Around in Canada and learn about snakes, lizards, toads, frogs, and turtles!

Today’s species is the Blanding’s Turtle!


[caption id="attachment_38567" align="alignleft" width="317"] © Joe Crowley[/caption] Is that an army helmet laying on the ground? NO! It’s a Blanding’s Turtle! The shell of a Blanding’s Turtle is medium-sized, dome-like and resembles that of an army helmet; which is unlike most other turtles that have a wide, flatter shell. It is easily identified by its bright yellow throat, chin and shell underbelly. Its shell has black to brown yellow flakes and streaks and can reach up to 27 cm long. Apart from its bright yellow throat, its head and limbs are black-grey. Unlike other Ontario turtles, the Blanding’s Turtle can completely close their shell after pulling in their head and feet, because the bottom of the shell is hinged. This is very useful when the Blanding's Turtle is in danger! The Blanding’s turtle lives in the Great Lakes Basin, with a few other populations in the United States and elsewhere in Canada. It is found in shallow water, usually in large wetlands and shallow lakes with lots of plants. If you see one a few hundred meters away from the water, do not panic, as they often venture to find a mate or nesting site! When in hibernation, they are in the mud at the bottom of permanent water bodies, from the Late October to end of April. What’s interesting, is that the female species do not mature until at least the age of 14, with individuals living to be over 75 years old! That’s old for something so small! The female will lay up to 22 eggs in late May or early June after excavating a nest in a sunny area with good drainage. Hatchlings three to four centimeters in length, emerge in the fall and the incubation temperature of the eggs determines the gender of the offspring! Blanding’s Turtles are omnivorous (feed on plants and animals), specifically on crayfish, insects, fish, frogs and a variety of plant material. Different from other aquatic turtles who feed exclusively in the water, Blanding’s Turtles feed both in the water and on land. Blanding’s Turtles are threatened primarily due to the destruction of wetlands, their home. Not only this, but shoreline development can destroy nesting areas and disturb the land beside the water. Since Blanding’s Turtles can wander from the water a few hundred meters, that creates a new threat if the turtle ends up on the road. The more that they wander on the road, the more likely they are to be crushed. This is especially harmful to the females who need to return to the nest. Shockingly, this is one of the species that people remove from the wild to use as food or as pets! But don't worry, you can help! If you see a Blanding’s Turtle, report the sighting! This will hopefully help the city create signage for drivers or pedestrians, so that everyone can be more careful around that area! Also, you can volunteer with your local nature club or provincial park in surveys focused on species at risk. And if you live on property near the habitat where Blanding’s Turtles can be found, you may be eligible for stewardship programs that support the protection and recovery of the species and its habitat. As well, if you are interested in purchasing a turtle, never buy a native species of turtle, or any that have been caught in the wild. If you see a turtle for sale that came from the wild, REPORT immediately. If you are reporting illegal activity regarding plant or wildlife, call 1-877-TIPS-MNR (847-7667). Lastly, share this so that your friends and family can learn about the danger that the Blanding’s Turtle is in, and how they too can help!

Calendar Image – The Belted Kingfisher
Belted Kingfisher by Tim Hopwood
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Calendar Image – The Belted Kingfisher

This month’s calendar image is a stunning photo of a Belted Kingfisher, which was captured in autumn by Tim Hopwood in the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary in Calgary. Of this encounter, Tim said that “On an early autumn afternoon, a spur of the moment decision to visit Calgary’s Inglewood Bird Sanctuary led to a chance encounter with this Belted Kingfisher that perched for a few moments above a poplar-lined lagoon, watching for unwary fish.

Tim's shot truly captured a Belted Kingfisher in its natural element – perched above a body of water, on the lookout for fish and ready for flight.


We recognize Belted Kingfishers by their blue-gray feathers and fine, white spotting on their wings and tail, white underparts, and their large heads that have a crest on the top and back. They have a stocky build, with short legs, and a medium length, and square-tipped tail. Another discerning characteristic of the Belted Kingfisher is its loud rattling call – which can often be heard when it flies quickly up and down rivers and shorelines where it feeds and nests. This large water kingfisher lives near streams, rivers, ponds, lakes and estuaries, and spends much of its time searching for small fish from its perch of choice along the edges.  Belted Kingfishers nest in burrows that they dig into soft earthen banks, favouring those consisting of higher contents of sand than clay. Their nests is usually adjacent to or directly over water, and  in a horizontal tunnel made in a river bank or sand bank and excavated by both parents. This bird species is native to North America and spends its winters in areas where the water doesn’t freeze in order to have continual access to their aquatic foods. Beyond small fish, Belted Kingfishers also eat crayfish, frogs, tadpoles, and aquatic insects. The Belted Kingfisher's breeding habitat is near inland bodies of waters or coasts across most of Canada, Alaska and the United States. They migrate from the northern parts of its range to the southern United States, Mexico, Central America, and the West Indies in winter.

Interesting Facts about the Belted Kingfisher

  • Contrary to many bird species, the Belted Kingfisher is one of the few bird species in which the female is more brightly coloured than the male.
  • As nestlings, Belted Kingfishers have acidic stomachs that help them digest bones, fish scales, and arthropod shells.
  • Both parents feed their young. At first, they give them partially digested fish, and later, whole fish. Interestingly, the male may make more feeding visits than the female. The young leave the nest between 27-29 days after hatching.
  • In certain regions, human activities (such as the digging of sand & gravel pits) have created nesting sites that have actually stimulated population growth and enhanced opportunities for range expansion. Despite this species' diet, environmental contaminants do not seem to have affected its productivity as it has with other fish-eating birds.

Why oilpatch suits are trying to boot Bill C-69
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Why oilpatch suits are trying to boot Bill C-69

Bill C-69 is a modest piece of legislation designed to improve how the federal government assesses and approves major development projects such as pipelines and  hydro dams, and restore public trust at the same time. Bill C-69 was passed by the House of Commons in June, after over two years of public consultations, expert panel reviews, and House of Commons debate and committee hearings. But now “Suits and Boots”, an oil and gas industry campaign, is lobbying Senators to defeat Bill C-69 by delaying final votes on the bill so it dies on the order paper in June when Parliament adjourns. In an article published in the Hill Times on October 24,  Stephen Hazell, Nature Canada’s director of policy and general counsel, explains why the arguments put forward by Suits and Boots are rubbish, and why Bill C-69, while far from perfect in terms of nature conservation, represents a significant improvement on the current failed law.

Click here for the entire article.

Battle for the Bats: White-nose syndrome hits Newfoundland
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Battle for the Bats: White-nose syndrome hits Newfoundland

We silently crouched in a small open field, eyes strained and scanning the horizon as the last of  the sun’s rays dipped from view. In the midst of summer, we waited on the outskirts of a small coastal town in Newfoundland, ready for the action to begin. A cacophony of squeaks vibrated through the air above, before a lone furry silhouette darted into the night. Finally, the moment we were waiting for is here. One by one, the bats emerged from a hole in the side of an old building, no bigger than an inch. It was surrealbefore us flew countless acrobats, twisting and gliding through the air. As the mosquitoes buzzed around our awestruck faces, a bat suddenly swooped in from behind me to snap up the insect, barely a foot away from my face. The only evidence of the encounter was the lingering gust of wind from its passing wingbeat. I had never seen so many bats in my entire life as almost a hundred took to the night sky. It’s hard to imagine that soon this roost will be all but wiped out. This sobering thought is all because of a seemingly small and insignificant fungusa white fluffy organism that grows on a handful of bat species. This fungus is at the heart of white-nose syndrome, an epidemic that is single-handedly decimating bat populations across the continent. Once a bat is infected, the disease causes them to wake up mid-hibernation. Caught in the cold of winter, they quickly run through their energy stores before the relief of spring. Mortality rates in infected hibernacula can range upwards of 75%, meaning that entire roosts can be wiped out in a single season.  For a long time, white-nose syndrome was landlocked, reaching from Manitoba to the Maritimes. With Newfoundland separated from mainland Canada, scientists hoped that the island could act as an ideal bat refuge. However, in 2018, in a tranquil town only a ten-minute drive from the roost I was in awe of, one of the first recorded cases of white-nose syndrome in Newfoundland was discovered. The beginning of the end. With the disease able to spread over 200 kilometres per year, it won’t be long until the entire island is impacted. It’s hard to imagine returning to this spot next year with baited breath, to see if this currently vibrant roost has become yet another casualty. The odds aren't looking good. [caption id="attachment_38640" align="alignleft" width="300"] © Brett Forsyth[/caption] The loss of these bats can be even more keenly felt than just being a lost source of wonder. They are integral not only to the ecosystem, but to us humans. For example, as the bats swooped and swirled around us, they were picking off the mosquitoes diligently attacking any exposed skin. While some southern bat species are fruit-eaters and excellent pollinators, bats in Canada exclusively eat insects. They consume thousands of bugs, not only making them an important part of the food chain, but also phenomenal natural pest controllers. As bat numbers dwindle, this means that more insects are making it to our plants and crops, therefore negatively impacting the agricultural industry. The devastating reach of white-nose syndrome extends far beyond the roost. There is currently no cure for white-nose syndrome. I can not begin to describe how hard it is to write this—it feels like too hopeless of a statement to voice out loud. However, scientists are racing to find a solution. Some strategies include using bacteria, UV light, or chemicals to prevent fungal growth. While these methods haven’t found widespread success, at least they offer a glimmer of hope that we may be able to save these bat species. While scientists are working to find the cure, there is plenty that we, as citizen scientists, can do to help. For example, The Canadian Wildlife Federation has outlined a myriad of ways that we can be heroes for bats; from reporting bat sightings on iNaturalist, to adding plants to the garden that attract bats’ prey, there’s no limit to the ways you can make a difference. If you live in the Ottawa area, you can even borrow Nature Canada’s bat detectors and conduct your own bat surveys in your neighbourhood. Another way to help is to add bat boxes to your property. These shelters provide useful roosting sites, especially in urban centers where suitable habitats are in low supply. There are still many of ways to fight back. As I look back on my mesmerizing bat encounter, I choose to remember it as a wakeup call. A chance for me to get active and get this story out there. To give a voice to the countless wings that darted around me on that summer night. It’s easy to fall into a stupor of hopelessness, where we choose inaction as the easiest pathafter all, why bother trying to solve the seemingly unfixable? It’s by us standing up, raising awareness, and caring that makes all the difference. It’s time to battle for the bats.

Nature Canada reiterates call for Emergency Order to save Orcas
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Nature Canada reiterates call for Emergency Order to save Orcas

Nature Canada is reiterating its call for the federal government to issue an emergency order under the Species at Risk Act to implement a revised Recovery Strategy for the Northern and Southern Resident Orcas. Time is short if these Orcas are to be  saved. The Recovery Strategy was first issued in 2008 and amended in 2011.  Now the government is consulting Canadians about designating additional critical habitat for these populations, as well as measures to protect this critical habitat. The deadline for submissions is Saturday November 3, 2018 Some key actions that must be taken to protect critical habitat in the Salish Sea include:

  • Restricting Chinook salmon fisheries in areas where these Orcas feed, and closing Chinook fishing on the Fraser River;
  • Enforcing the 200-meter buffer between marine vessels and Orcas and implementing better rules for whale-watching boats
  • Imposing a 10 knot speed limit on marine vessels and slowing down BC Ferries;
  • Reducing noise and disturbance for commercial vessels travelling in or near Orca foraging areas; and
  • Establishing the Southern Strait of Georgia National Marine Conservation Area.
The government has announced a new program to monitor and model underwater noise in the Salish Sea. This clearly will not be enough as the number of vessels—including oil tankers—continues to increase. In addition to our submission setting out in more detail why these key actions are needed, Nature Canada will be submitting the petitions signed by nearly 10,000 of our members and supporters calling for an emergency order to save the Orcas.

There is still time to sign our petition and save the Southern Resident Orcas.

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