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Budget 2018: Billion-Dollar Breakthrough for Nature Conservation
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Budget 2018: Billion-Dollar Breakthrough for Nature Conservation

Ottawa, ON (February 27, 2018)—Budget 2018 is a billion-dollar breakthrough for nature conservation according to Nature Canada. "This budget is a game-changer,” says Graham Saul, Nature Canada’s Executive Director. “We congratulate Finance Minister Morneau, Prime Minister Trudeau, and Environment Minister McKenna on making these critical investments. We think that Canada's wildlife would also applaud." Budget 2018 commits Canada to investing $1.3 billion over five years to establish new protected areas and to recover endangered and threatened species. "Investing in protected areas is the way of the future for federal, provincial and Indigenous governments, says Stephen Hazell, Nature Canada’s Director of Conservation. “Providing financial support to Indigenous governments such as the Moose Cree First Nation to protect and manage their sacred places such as the North French watershed is the right step forward to reconciliation." "Meeting Canada's international commitment to protect 17 percent of our lands and waters by 2020 will be a challenge. We need this money to make it happen,” says Hazell.  “Nature Canada and provincial and local nature groups are eager to work with governments, local and Indigenous communities, and industry to take full advantage of the opportunities to protect ecologically important places across the country, whether it’s grasslands in Saskatchewan, Carolinian forests in Ontario, Acadian forests in the Maritimes, or wetlands in British Columbia and Quebec." Nature Canada is Canada’s oldest national nature conservation charity, and is a member of the Green Budget Coalition (GBC). The GBC's recommendations for the Budget 2018 can be found here.


For media commentary please contact: Stephen Hazell, Director of Conservation and General Counsel 613 724-1908 (cell) 613 562-3447 ext. 240 shazell@naturecanada.ca To contact a French-speaking spokesperson, call: Ted Cheskey, Senior Manager of Conservation Programs 613 323 3331 (cell) For media assistance please contact: Janet Weichel McKenzie, Nature Canada Media Specialist 613-808-4642 jweichelmckenzie@gmail.com ABOUT NATURE CANADA Nature Canada is the oldest national nature conservation charity in Canada. Over the past 75 years, Nature Canada has helped protect more than 63 million acres of parks and wildlife areas in Canada and countless species that depend on this habitat. Today, Nature Canada represents a network comprised of over 65,000 members and supporters and more than 350 nature organizations across the country with affiliates in every province. Learn how you can support our nature conservation efforts across Canada

3 Unbelievable Reptiles Right Here In Canada
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3 Unbelievable Reptiles Right Here In Canada

This post was written by guest blogger Sean Feagan. [caption id="attachment_33785" align="alignleft" width="150"]Image of sean feagan Sean Feagan, Guest Blogger[/caption] While Indiana Jones was not a fan of snakes , there is a lot to appreciate about reptiles. Canada's reptiles are a varied bunch in terms of their appearance, life history and ecology. The three main groups, snakes, lizards and turtles, all have bony shells, scaly skin and an ectothermic metabolism, which means that unlike us, their body temperature is largely determined by the external environment. While some reptiles lay soft-shelled "leathery" eggs some are viviparous, meaning they give birth to live young ones. Canada has 49 species of reptiles and the Canadian Herpetological Society has a great overview of each species on its website. Unfortunately, many are either imperiled or vulnerable to decline (33 species are listed on the federal Species at Risk Act with six additional species believed to now be extirpated in Canada). Ontario and British Columbia have the greatest number of species, many of which are endangered. All other Canadian provinces, with the exception of Newfoundland, have reptile populations. While Yukon and Nunavut lack resident reptiles, den sites of red-sided garter snakes have been identified in the Northwest Territories. So what is threatening our reptile species? Unfortunately, there are numerous and often interacting threats afflicting reptiles in Canada, including habitat loss and fragmentation, road mortality, collection as pets, pollution, invasive species, climate change, disease, and human persecution. These threats have reduced the size and geographical extent of many reptile populations throughout Canada. In fact, the Ontario Turtle Conservation Centre recently announced a state of emergency for Ontario's turtles where seven out of eight species are at risk due to the number of road collisions this summer. While all of the reptile species in Canada are interesting and unique in their own ways, here are few of my favourites: Spiny Softshell Turtle With a squat, smooth shell and an elongated snout, the Spiny Softshell Turtle is, well, weird looking. In Canada, this species exists in southern Quebec and Ontario and is listed under the Species at Risk Act as Threatened. It is found in a variety of freshwater habitats, typically in those with a soft substrate and sparse aquatic vegetation. Unfortunately, this one and other related softshell species have been the victims of poachers who sell them to restaurants. To combat this and other threats, captive breeding and release programs are underway in Quebec and in Ontario


[caption id="attachment_34736" align="alignright" width="300"]Image of a Greater Short-Horned Lizard Greater Short-Horned Lizard showing off its camouflage ability at Grasslands National Park (Photo credit: Sean Feagan)[/caption] Greater Short-horned Lizard Among the hoodoos and cacti of the Canadian badlands lives this spiky and diminutive (generally less than 10 cm in length) member of Canada's limited (five species) lizard assemblage. Two populations of this species exist both in southwest Saskatchewan (in and around Grasslands National Park) and in southeastern Alberta (near Medicine Hat). The species is listed in the Species at Risk Act as Endangered and is threatened primarily by habitat loss and alteration from various activities. Worth noting, it has the “charming” ability to shoot blood from its eyes when threatened.
[caption id="attachment_34734" align="alignleft" width="300"]Image of a Five-lined Skink Five-lined Skink at Point Pelee National Park (Photo credit: Sean Feagan).[/caption] Five-lined Skink While many birders travel to Point Pelee National Park to admire migrant songbirds, others may visit the park to see this species. Two populations are recognized in Canada: the Great Lakes / St. Lawrence Population (listed as Special Concern), and the Carolinian Population (listed as Endangered). Younger skinks exhibit interesting colouration with five cream stripes over iridescent green-black bodies and a striking blue tail.
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New Species added to the Species at Risk Act
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New Species added to the Species at Risk Act

[caption id="attachment_22916" align="alignleft" width="150"]Image of Samantha Nurse Samantha Nurse, Web and Social Media Coordinator[/caption] Congratulations to the federal government for adding 11 new species to the Species at Risk Act! Last week, the federal government added these new species to the list and they will now receive some protection under the Act. In the next steps forward, the federal government will start to work on recovery planning with provinces, territories, Indigenous communities and stakeholders. Here are the species recently added: [caption id="attachment_31470" align="alignright" width="300"]Image of "Collared Pika (2) - Ochotona collaris" by National Park Service, Alaska Region is licensed under CC BY 2.0. "Collared Pika (2) - Ochotona collaris" by National Park Service, Alaska Region is licensed under CC BY 2.0.[/caption]

  1. Olive Clubtail
  2. Okanagan Efferia
  3. Dune Tachinid Fly
  4. Horned Grebe (Western population)
  5. Buff-breasted Sandpiper
  6. Baird’s Sparrow
  7. Batwing Vinyl Lichen
  8. Crumpled Tarpaper Lichen
  9. Peacock Vinyl Lichen
  10. Collared Pika
  11. Magnum Mantleslug
However, this is only one small step in the protection of species at risk in Canada. There is now a backlog of up to five years of 100 of species scientifically declared to be at risk that has not yet been legally listed under the Species at Risk Act. The species that are waiting to be legally listed include the Barn Swallow, Narwhal, Western Grizzly Bear and the Loggerhead Sea Turtle. How can you help? Write a letter to your local editor with our free template to raise awareness on the importance of these at risk species!
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Bird Tweet of the Week: Short-eared Owl
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Bird Tweet of the Week: Short-eared Owl

[caption id="attachment_27127" align="alignleft" width="300"]Image of a Short-eared Owl Photos from Flickr, Ann Cook[/caption]
The Short-eared Owl is an migratory species associated with large open areas such as grasslands, fields, marshlands, and even airports. However due to habitat loss, the Short-eared Owl is labeled at-risk both provincially and nationally. Each week we introduce a new bird from the Ottawa-Gatineau area through our segment on CBC Radio’s In Town and Out. Alex MacDonald, Nature Canada’s Manager of Protected Areas, shares interesting facts about the birds that live in our communities. Be sure to tune-in to “Bird Tweet of the Week” on CBC Radio One 91.5 FM on Saturday mornings from 6am to 9am and listen to past episodes on our website. This episode aired on Saturday April 9th, 2016.
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Get to know our Endangered Species
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Get to know our Endangered Species

[caption id="attachment_22916" align="alignleft" width="150"]Samantha Nurse, Web and Social Media Coordinator Samantha Nurse, Web and Social Media Coordinator[/caption] How much do you know about the species at risk in Canada? Species at risk are species whose members are declining and at risk of extinction. This often happens due to a number of factors like environmental or human-induced changes to their habitats. Once the species are listed on the Federal Species at Risk list, they are under legal protection in hopes to both conserve and recover the species. Currently there are over 300 wild plants and animals protected by the Species at Risk Act (SARA)! There are several profiles of species at risk on our website with the basic "need to know" facts and the various ways in which you can help. Recently, we have just added to 2 more species profiles: Sei Whale and Common Nighthawk. [separator headline="h3" title="Sei Whale"] [caption id="attachment_24861" align="alignright" width="300"]A photo of a Sei Whale mother and her calf A photo of a Sei Whale mother and her calf[/caption] Many people haven’t heard of a Sei Whale before but it is actually the 3rd largest baleen whale in the world! Their average length is about 15 meters which is approximately 50 feet! The Pacific population of this species is listed as Endangered and is found off the coast of British Columbia. The Sei Whale has been impacted through human activity over the years, such as noise pollution and human sourced pollution like contaminated run-off. There are however, many ways in which Canada is working towards protecting the species and many ways that you can help them too! There are volunteer monitoring programs in place, and we have a few tips on just how you can help to protect the Sei Whales. Read more here. [separator headline="h3" title="Common Nighthawk"] [caption id="attachment_24723" align="alignleft" width="300"]Image of a Common NIghthawk Image of a Common NIghthawk[/caption] The Common Nighthawk is listed as Threatened and they are found in Canada during the warmer months. The habitats this species calls home are generally grasslands, sand-dunes, riverbanks and marshes! Why is it at risk? There are two main factors: habitat loss and agricultural development. Due to this, monitoring has concluded that their population has been dropping over the past few years. But, there are ways that you can help this species! Be sure to report any sightings of the Common Nighthawk in our NatureHood App as it helps reveal patterns that can aid local scientists in their work to protect the species. Read more facts and learn other ways in which you can help this species here! Wild plants and animals give humans so much – from food and medicine, to healthy ecosystems and spiritual nourishment. Wild species clean the air and water, nourish the soil, maintain the carbon balance in the atmosphere, remove pollutants and prevent waste accumulation. The benefits, what some call ecosystem services, are essential to human life on this planet and every species plays some kind of essential role in an ecosystem.

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Saved by Popular Demand?
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Saved by Popular Demand?

[caption id="attachment_22697" align="alignleft" width="150"]Image of Stephen Hazell Stephen Hazell
Director of Conservation
and Legal Counsel[/caption] A new day may have dawned for Canada’s species at risk. Nature Canada is very pleased that Prime Minister Trudeau  has directed Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, to “enhance protection of Canada’s endangered species” as a top priority. Implementing the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA) is critical to this work. Last week, Nature Canada and seven other nature groups wrote a joint letter to Minister McKenna outlining some of the pressing shortcomings in implementing SARA including:

  • Clearing up the backlog of  scientifically assessed species at risk  not yet declared to be legally at risk
  • Getting caught up in preparing Recovery Strategies for threatened and endangered species
  • Better supporting the work of  COSEWIC, the scientific advisory committee on species at riskImage of Barn Swallow
The previous federal government fell behind badly in legally listing species recommended for at risk status by COSEWIC. The backlog goes back four years, and includes more than 100 species, including Barn and Bank Swallows and the western Grizzly Bear population. Preparing recovery strategies for endangered, threatened and extirpated species at risk—including identification of critical habitat--is another priority. The preparation of recovery strategies needs to be an objective, scientific exercise to identify broad strategies to ensure species’ survival and recovery. You can save endangered and threatened species by encouraging the Minister and the new government to act by Popular Demand!

Here's how you can help today:

Please consider signing Nature Canada’s petition requesting that the Minister immediately list the Barn and Bank Swallows as threatened.

Learn More Here:

To learn more about protecting endangered species, check out these news articles from the Ottawa Citizen: Triage in the wild: Is it time to choose which species live and which die out? Canada, once a global leader in conservation, is among the world’s biggest cheapskates when it comes to spending to save disappearing wildlife. To learn more about biodiversity targets, click here. Email Signup

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