This sounds familiar… although independent scientific review is written into the ESA in the US and our SARA, there are constant attempts to skirt this critical element of our legislative frameworks to protect species… Click here to read the full article.
Misty Harris wrote a good article for Canwest News called “Too much Yoda, not enough Magpie, show tackles kids’ weak nature knowledge.” This article highlighted the imminent release of a series of Hinterland Who’s Who (Canadian Wildlife Federation and Environment Canada) vignettes on television to get kids outdoors. I am quoted in the article as saying that part of the problem for why kids these days know so little about nature is “a failure in parenting.” Of course much more was said, likely several pages of text, but only a few words were chosen to make her point. What my point really was is that it is our social and cultural values that are the root of this issue. We… read more →
Scientists in Australia have recruited elephant seals, fitted with sensors on their heads, to help collect data on ice formation, ocean currents and climate change. The seals can go where satellites and ship-based monitors cannot; under winter sea ice, where the seals dive to a depth of more than 500 meters (1,500 feet) on average and to a maximum depth of nearly 2 km (a mile). Eighty-five seals are involved, and with the data they’re sending back researchers are able to determine what the ocean currents are doing, how temperatures and salinity are changing, and how quickly or slowly ice is forming. Earth’s polar regions are the front lines of our planet’s climate crisis. It’s both where the effects of… read more →
This year, for the first time, I’m trying my hand at backyard vegetable gardening as a way to eat (very!) locally and teach my daughter about where food comes from. I decided to try out square foot gardening after reading about the high vegetable yields that can be achieved from a small amount of garden space. An added bonus: this intensive method has required little thinning and weeding and no chemical inputs. My square foot garden has 18 one foot by one foot squares growing everything from Thai basil to cherry tomatoes to peppers to beets. We’ve been eating fresh radishes, peas, beans, and lettuce for quite a few weeks now, and we are quite enjoying the garden. So is… read more →
BirdLife International is running its own “Bird Olympics” while the Games are going on in China. Every few days, they’re posting a new event — today is the high jump — and asking you to select which avian competitor has what it takes to win. Last week was the diving competition. The questions aren’t easy, but the answers provide fascinating information about birds from all over the world.
Last week we posted our latest Quick Poll online, where we posed the question: Should people try to attract wildlife to their backyard? The results: Of 476 people (so far), 88.9% said yes. (Update: on August 25, the results were 86.7% of 482 voters.) Though these results may not show it, this issue can be contentious. On the one hand, it is so important that people find ways to connect with nature — observe it, appreciate it, interact with it and learn from it. And with over 50% of the world’s population now living in urban areas, a person’s backyard is becoming one of the few places to engage regularly with anything approaching the natural world. Although Canada is endowed… read more →
A friend of mine, Michelle Paton, who used to be the office manager here, has a cat named Crash, who has a predilection for skunks (Michelle believes it’s because Crash thinks they look like him). Last week, Crash helped draw a neighbour’s attention to a skunk who had his head caught in a Tim Horton’s ice cap container – now I generally hustle the other way when a skunk crosses my path, but thankfully this neighbour did come to the aid of the poor creature as he staggered up and down the street trying to alternately pry or shake the cup off. Though it was only plastic, it must have started to feel very heavy after a while – who… read more →
All aboard! Check out the Merganser train depicted in these photos from Jim Dubois, a member of Nature Canada’s online community. Says Jim: I’m inclined to think that all of those are her babies, but that may be more my heart thinking than my brain. I know they lay up to twelve eggs, but with the mine field of predators they live among, raising the whole batch would take some pretty exceptional mothering skills. Some pretty exceptional luck, too. There’s another female in the same area with 11 young, but there are also a couple with none at all. Perhaps the two with the big broods have collected the survivors of the others. The area I took these shots in… read more →
On my family’s annual beach holiday last month in Maine, we shared the beach with a large enclosure and signs designed to protect the nest of a pair of endangered Piping Plovers from danger (including predatory gulls, beachgoers and dogs). I wasn’t lucky enough to see any plovers, but hopefully this is because they had successfully fledged their chicks and had already departed the beach as a family. The alternative, however – that the nest failed due to disturbance or predation – is an all-too likely scenario for these endangered birds. This possibility has made me think that next year, perhaps a better time for my family to enjoy the beach is at the end of the summer when we… read more →
To most Canadians the monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) is a sure sign of summer. Yet catching a glimpse of this seasonal icon along roadsides and fields is becoming an increasingly rare event. While not at immediate risk of extinction, monarch populations are being monitored for signs of trouble. The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) has listed the monarch butterfly as a species of “special concern” since 1997. A wonderful way to help monarch butterflies is to create a butterfly haven in your own backyard or balcony.