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Announcing the 2017 Douglas H. Pimlott Award Winner: Dr. Ian A. McLaren
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Announcing the 2017 Douglas H. Pimlott Award Winner: Dr. Ian A. McLaren

This post was written by guest blogger Rebecca Kennedy. For his lifetime achievements and contributions to the fields of marine biology and regional ornithology, Nature Canada is honoured to present Dr. Ian A. McLaren with its 2017 Douglas H. Pimlott Award. [caption id="attachment_34714" align="alignright" width="392"]Image of Ian McLaren Ian McLaren[/caption] A longtime professor and researcher in marine biology and ecology at Dalhousie University, Dr. Ian McLaren has spent an enthusiastic and inquisitive life in the Canadian outdoors. After attaining his doctorate in 1961 at Yale, Dr. McLaren returned to his hometown of Montreal to work as an assistant professor in the Marine Sciences Centre at McGill. In 1966, he relocated to Dalhousie University in Halifax to be an associate professor of biology. There he spent the majority of his academic career, teaching undergraduate courses in subjects such as biological diversity, ecology, vertebrate and invertebrate biology, and population and community ecology, and acting as a supervisor or committee member for over 60 graduate students and post-doctoral fellows. Always aware of the need for habitat protection, Dr. McLaren was heavily involved in the establishment of both the Nova Scotia Nature Trust and the Sable Island Preservation Trust (now Friends of Sable Island NP), which has led to the protection of the province’s unique coastal ecosystems and offshore islands. His research garnered from times spent on Sable Island off the coast of eastern Nova Scotia led to a definitive study of the Ipswich Sparrow, a subspecies of the Savannah Sparrow, which breeds only on that island. During the 1950s and early 1960s, Dr. McLaren spent 12 seasons in the Eastern Canadian Arctic (now Nunavut) mostly with the research vessel Calanus but also a 6-month stint of camping in isolation with his wife Bernice near Frobisher Bay, where he studied the limnology of Ogac Lake, with its relict landlocked cod. His passion for the islands spills into his family life. Bernice fondly recalls a first summer of their marriage spent in a tent in the Canadian North. The couple also spent many late summers with their three children on Seal Island off the southwest tip of Nova Scotia. Formally retired, Dr. McLaren he continues to stay extremely active both personally and professionally as professor emeritus at Dalhousie, and continuing to birdwatch, publish avian research and use his voice of reason to advocate for pertinent causes. He tirelessly pushes for the preservation of habitats, the need for urban green spaces and Nature Canada’s campaign to keep cats from roaming unsupervised. He speaks on climate change, Species at Risk, and the biomass “harvesting” of the Acadian forest. As a supporter of the Nova Scotia Young Naturalists Association, he is a voice of encouragement and support for the next generation of nature researchers. Notable publications and articles During his career, Dr. McLaren has been a prolific researcher and writer, publishing more than 100 scientific peer-reviewed articles and book chapters on subjects ranging from the biology of seals and plankton in Arctic Canada, the rules of growth and production of marine zooplankton, and the relationships of marine fish recruitment to zooplankton distribution and abundance. Dr. McLaren is an avid birder and his passion for ornithology has led to work both formal and avocational. He is the author of the comprehensive All the Birds of Nova Scotia (2012). This unmatched resource for serious birders compiles and evaluates a broad range of historical and contemporary data gathered by both ornithologists and amateur birdwatchers. In the work, Dr. McLaren describes the status and key identification issues for all bird species, distinctive subspecies and variations thought to have occurred in Nova Scotia up to 2010. Additionally, Dr. MacLaren coordinated the third posthumous edition of Robie Tufts’ much-loved Birds of Nova Scotia (1995). Since 2010, Dr. McLaren has served as editor of the magazine Nova Scotia Birds. He is a past regional editor for the American Birding Association magazine North American Birds. [caption id="attachment_14852" align="alignleft" width="417"]osprey Osprey. Photographed by Jim Adams[/caption] Notable awards and associations Throughout his career, Dr. McLaren has been heavily involved on numerous boards, councils, committees of regional and national conservation, and natural history organizations. He became a member on arrival in Nova Scotia of the Nova Scotia Bird Society, for which he also served as president. He continues his involvement as a director, editor, contributor, and speaker. He is a recipient of the Queen Elizabeth Silver Jubilee and Diamond Jubilee medals as well as a 2012 recipient of the American Birding Association’s prestigious Ludlow Griscom Award for Outstanding Contributions in Regional Ornithology. Dr. McLaren is a longtime member and a former chair of the Board of Directors for Nature Canada, for which he has been a steadying guide and presence during our organization’s challenging times. Fellow Board Member Joan Czapalay, who nominated Dr. McLaren for the award, states, “He is tireless, courteous to all, and has a wonderful sense of humour.” The Douglas H. Pimlott Award is Nature Canada’s highest award and is given to someone who, whether as a professional or a private citizen, has made significant contributions to conservation. Learn more about the award, including eligibility and past recipients here: http://naturecanada.ca/about/awards-scholarships/pimlott/

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The Birds and Tides of Nova Scotia’s Minas Basin
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The Birds and Tides of Nova Scotia’s Minas Basin

[caption id="attachment_20535" align="alignleft" width="220"]Semi-palmated Sandpiper Semi-palmated Sandpiper[/caption] Brett Hare was an intern with Nature Canada's conservation team in the early part of 2013. He spoke with Rick Whitman, Minas Basin Important Bird Area Caretaker, about his role in the IBA Caretaker program. Nova Scotia’s Minas Basin has been designated an Important Bird and Biodiversity Area (IBA) due to its significance as a staging area for many bird species.  The tide here fluctuates 16-17 meters between high and low tide.  During medium and low tides, vast expanses of mudflats are exposed, creating a tremendous feeding area for shorebirds. Rick Whitman has been a caretaker for the Minas Basin IBA for over a year, possessing a passion for birds and photography. “I’ve been a birder for decades” Rick explained. “Particularly in the last 5 years, I’ve been really interested in shorebirds.” Tides play a major role in within this IBA as they expose mudflats which are teaming with mud shrimp.  This acts as a “fattening-up” point for birds during their migration.  Often, migrating birds will continue feasting in this area for 10 days to 2 weeks. The IBA is very accessible to the public, the most accessible site being Evangeline Beach where visitors can drive right up to the beach. Minas Basin is a great place for birding with many different species of shorebirds. “I drive there several times a week.”  Rick explains.  “Birds are very diverse; I saw 20 different species of shorebirds last year.” Rick noted the various birds witnessed within the IBA which included the Black-bellied Plover, Semi-palmated Plover, Greater Yellow Legs, Willets, Sanderlings, Semi-palmated Sandpiper, Least Sandpiper, White-rumped Sandpiper, and the Dunlin.  As well, he noted some uncommon species for the area such as a Marbled Godwit, which is part of the rare bird list for Nova Scotia.  He also witnessed a Whimbrel, 3 Red knots in the process of migrating north during the spring, Pectoral Sandpipers, Short-billed Dowitcher, and a Red-necked Phalarope which was photographed by Rick as it strolled along the beach. Being an IBA caretaker comes with its share of rewarding experiences as Rick found out.  In 2012, while photographing and documenting the various birds, Rick discovered that some of them had tiny flags attached to their legs.  He photographed flags from 7 different birds and posted them on eBird, a website used to share bird sightings.  Rick discovered that these flags belonged to the New Jersey Audubon Society, an organization that studies and tracks birds as they migrate each year.  Some of these birds had travelled as far as Brazil.  Rick observed that one of the birds had stayed for 29 days within the Minas Basin. Rick’s photography and documentation of bird species within the Minas Basin IBA are a valuable resource to birders and organizations worldwide. “My overall objective is to monitor the populations” he stated. Rick posts all his sightings on eBird, which are then shared with Bird Studies Canada.  As a caretaker, Rick attends meetings and is part of a committee that engages in various discussions regarding the IBA and bird conservation.  Genuine stewardship is a key focus of Rick’s, who wishes to see the Minas Basin IBA continue to flourish and be a key staging area for many species of shorebirds during migration. The IBA Caretakers Network was launched in 2006 by BC Nature in British Columbia with financial assistance from Nature Canada's Communities in Action Fund, and is supported by national sponsor TransCanada Corporation. In 2009, TransCanada Corporation committed $1 million over the next five years to support Nature Canada's bird conservation efforts. Other key donors like Wildlife Habitat Canada, The McLean Foundation and Environment Canada have provided additional support.

Canada’s Coolest School Trip Contest Launched – A Chance to Travel Back in Time!
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Canada’s Coolest School Trip Contest Launched – A Chance to Travel Back in Time!

[two_third]
This year, as part of the My Parks Pass program, Canada’s Coolest School Trip is going to Cape Breton, Nova Scotia to celebrate the 300th anniversary of the Fortress of Louisbourg. Your entire class could win this all-expenses-paid trip.
The grand prize winning class will go to beautiful Nova Scotia for Canada’s Coolest School Trip from June 3 to 7, 2013. The class will celebrate the 300th anniversary of Louisbourg, explore the beauty of Cape Breton Highlands National Park and make memories to last a life time. The approximate retail value of this trip is $52,250. There will be one Grand Prize awarded to the winning class, with a maximum number of 30 students and six adult chaperones from the single winning class. The trip includes round-trip flights to and from the winning class’ nearest major airport to Sydney, Nova Scotia, four nights accommodation (double occupancy), airport transfers from Sydney to the hotel and all ground transportation in Nova Scotia, entry fees for all the activities and four breakfasts, three lunches and three dinners. Last year we were delighted to offer our most heartfelt congratulations to the Grade 8 Class at Montague Intermediate School from Montague, PEI, for being selected as the winners of Canada's Coolest School Trip! As the contest winners, the entire class travelled to Banff National Park for an unforgettable 4-day, 3-night adventure, courtesy of Brewster Travel and Banff Lake Louise Tourism. The class, taught by Megan Morrison, created a video entitled "The Charlottetown Conference of 1864" which tells the story of the fateful gathering of the fathers of confederation at Province House in Charlottetown. In case you missed their video, watch it here! For more details, visit My Parks Pass website.   [/two_third] [one_third_last]how-to-win[/one_third_last]

Globally Significant IBA in Nova Scotia gains permanent protection!
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Globally Significant IBA in Nova Scotia gains permanent protection!

[two_third]Saturday marked a wonderful milestone for land conservation in Canada, as well as a great achievement for one of Nova Scotia's most prized Important Bird Areas (IBA)! Through a historic conservation easement signed between the Nova Scotia Nature Trust and Acadia University, the Bon Portage Island IBA gained permanent protection. The 3 square-kilometre coastal island located off the southwest tip of Nova Scotia is recognized as a Globally Significant IBA for its concentrations of colonial seabirds, in this case Leach's Storm Petrel. In fact, the island's breeding colony is the largest one found south of Newfoundland. Also of note is a mixed species heronry found on the island, which includes breeding Great Blue Herons and Black-capped Night Herons, as well as Snowy Egrets present during the breeding season. The island is also a key stop-over site for many bird species during the spring and fall migrations. Not to be overlooked, the conservation easement signed for Bon Portage Island also represents the first time Canadian university lands have been permanently protected using this legal conservation tool. In a press release from Nature Trust Executive Director, Bonnie Sutherland, applauded Acadia for being an environmental pioneer among academic institutions in Canada. “We hope Acadia’s conservation leadership will inspire other academic institutions and corporate landowners across Nova Scotia and across the country to take action to do their own part in protecting Canada’s unique natural legacy,” she said. As part of Acadia's long history on the island, the university offers a field school at Bon Portage Island, and alongside other researchers and scientists who use the Evelyn and Morrill Richardson Field Station, named to honour former lighthouse keepers Evelyn and Morrill Richardson, Acadia operates the Atlantic Bird Observatory at Bon Portage. Read more about this historic conservation success and the details leading up to it on the Nova Scotia Nature Trust's website. [/two_third] [one_third_last] [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="133"]Image of a Great Blue Heron Great Blue Heron[/caption] [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="320"]Image of a map of the Bon Portage Island IBA Map of the Bon Portage Island IBA, with its location
in southwest Nova Scotia shown in the inset map
in the upper right corner.[/caption] [/one_third_last]

Plight of the Piping Plover
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Plight of the Piping Plover

Last week Canadians learned that in parts of Atlantic Canada the endangered Piping Plover (Charadrius melodus melodus) is not recovering as well as expected. Numbers from the 2011 International Piping Plover Census in the region revealed that numbers declined 7% since 2010, leading to an overall decline of 14% since the early 1990s. This puts the Atlantic melodus population below the 2011 recovery target of 510 individuals, or 255 pairs. A total of 427 individuals was recorded throughout the region in 2011. The Piping Plover is actually represented by two subspecies in Canada: the melodus subspecies on the Atlantic coast, and the circumcinctus subspecies in the mid-western interior of the continent. On the Atlantic coast the melodus population faces a number of threats including loss and degradation of nesting habitat, human disturbance (direct and indirect), harassment by domestic pets and recreational vehicles on beaches, increased predation, severe weather and abnormal tides, among others. Visit the Species At Risk Act Public Registry to learn more. Several years ago I managed a recovery and stewardship program for Piping Plovers in southwest Nova Scotia. That program has evolved and continues today (picture above) as part of a province-wide effort coordinated by Sue Abbott at Bird Studies Canada (our Canadian co-partner in BirdLife International). Earlier this summer my family vacationed in southwest Nova Scotia and had an opportunity to visit some of the Piping Plover nesting beaches found in the area (picture to left). It was a wonderful opportunity for me to see the real benefits of about 20 years of effort to recover the species and educate people about its plight. That effort was put in by many individuals and organizations, including many dedicated volunteers across the region. But as last week's report indicates, the increase in Piping Plover numbers in southwest Nova Scotia was not mirrored in other parts of the region. Revisiting some of southwest Nova Scotia's plover nesting beaches reminded me of the many complex threats faced by species at risk. It underscored for me the importance of effectively stewarding and/or protecting the remaining habitats - especially the critical habitats - of these species and finding ways to restore those habitats throughout the species' historic range, whenever possible. Imperiled species such as the Piping Plover especially need to be free of human disturbance and other threats that 'piggy-back' on us - like pets roaming on beaches, coastal development, litter, etc. - so they have a fighting chance to deal with the many threats they naturally face, like predation and severe storms. And that leads me to a piece of great news in this otherwise unsettling story. On August 6th the Nova Scotia Nature Trust announced the acquisition and protection of 33 acres of coastal lands at Crow Neck Beach, a beach in southwest Nova Scotia that supports more pairs of Piping Plovers than any other beach in the province. Crow Neck Beach (picture to right) is also part of the nationally significant South Shore (Roseway to Baccaro) Important Bird Area, which is also a key stopover site for thousands of migratory waterfowl and shorebirds. This is excellent news for Piping Plovers and other feathered friends! All photos by A. MacDonald Note: My Piping Plover photo was taken at a safe distance using optical + digital zoom.

Encouraging Land Protection Announcement from Nova Scotia!
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Encouraging Land Protection Announcement from Nova Scotia!

Happy Earth Day! This Nature Canada employee got an early Earth Day gift in 2011... Yesterday morning the Nova Scotia government released boundaries for two proposed Wilderness Areas in the northern central part of the province – near the isthmian border with New Brunswick. Wilderness Areas are the gold standard in Nova Scotia’s provincial protected areas network, and one of the proposed sites, the Kelly River Wilderness Area, could become the third largest such area in the province! I'm excited to see this announcement, as I coordinated a grassroots campaign for a new Wilderness Area in the Chignecto region on behalf of CPAWS Nova Scotia several years ago. In addition to CPAWS Nova Scotia, other organizations including Cumberland Wilderness, the Nova Scotia Public Land Coalition and Ecology Action Centre have been calling for permanent protection of provincial crown lands throughout the Chignecto region for years. I was very lucky to have canoed down the Kelly River with former area resident and professional photographer, Dale Wilson, in addition to visiting parts of the two sites with members of Cumberland Wilderness. Those firsthand experiences proved to me the outstanding conservation potential of crown lands in the Chignecto region. The area is one of the last strongholds of endangered species including the Nova Scotia mainland moose, the wood turtle and Inner Bay of Fundy Atlantic salmon. Here’s a map showing the proposed areas in yellow. Environmental organizations had been hoping that all of the provincial crown lands (shown in light green) would be captured in a single proposed Wilderness Area, but support for industrial use/development in the region (e.g., commercial logging, mineral and oil and gas exploration/extraction, wind energy development) seems to have influenced the current boundary proposals. Nonetheless, the proposed protected areas capture beautiful elements of Nova Scotia’s upland, interior forests and its rugged Bay of Fundy coastline (see photos). Three globally significant Important Bird Areas are located beyond the proposed wilderness areas, scattered along the coastline of the Cumberland Basin. The new protected areas should play a role in reducing the negative impacts of industrial and other human activities on the waters entering the basin – as well as the fish, birds and other species that frequent them. The public is invited to submit comments on the boundary proposals as of May 11th 2011, with the deadline for submissions on August 12th 2011. More information is available here. While the proposed boundaries are a good start, including more of the crown lands surrounding the two sites in the final boundaries would better protect important wildlife habitats in the area.

Preventing Bird Deaths from Lead Poisoning
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Preventing Bird Deaths from Lead Poisoning

In her second guest post, wildlife vet Helene Van Doninck shares troubling stories about human-wildlife interactions. Lead poisoning is the topic of this entry – Helene tells us how you can prevent unnecessary bird deaths that result from this toxic substance. As a wildlife veterinarian and rehabilitator, I get a first hand glimpse into what happens when wild birds and humans interact. While many of these encounters are positive, I often see the results when the outcome is negative for the bird. More than ninety percent of the admissions to our rehabilitation centre are a direct result of interaction with humans or our structures. Each year we analyze the reasons birds and other wildlife are brought to us seeking medical aid.  The top reasons for admission include birds that are: hit by a vehicle, victims of cat predation, poisoned (lead poisoning in particular), injured from striking a window, orphaned, oiled, and shot. We spend a considerable amount of time trying to provide education that will help to decrease the number of animals that are victims of human interaction. People who bring us birds often ask how they can help. For several of the causative reasons listed above, the solution is obvious. Thousands of wild animals are struck by vehicles every year and simply driving slower and being more aware during dawn and dusk-periods of increased activity may help decrease collisions. Birds of prey and scavenging species are often struck when they opportunistically consume other vehicle collision victims. To help prevent this (not for the faint of heart), I personally carry a shovel in my vehicle and if it is safe to do so,  will move dead animals to the ditch or well off the road to prevent another wildlife death. In 2010, we admitted 2 bald eagles that had been struck while scavenging. Both died of their injuries despite medical care. In recent years we have seen an increase in bird deaths due to lead poisoning. Sadly, these deaths are easily preventable. It has been known for years that lead is toxic, yet it is still used to make hunting and fishing gear and in the manufacturing of other items. Lead shot was banned in waterfowl hunting years ago, but it is still legal to use for hunting other species. The most common species to get lead poisoning are bald eagles and common loons. Eagles can ingest lead shot (just one ingested pellet or sinker can kill) when scavenging bodies or remnants of bodies left behind by hunters. Some animals are also wounded but not killed and then scavenged by eagles. Loons can ingest lead sinkers or lures left behind on lake beds – lines are often cut when the sinker or gear gets entangled under the water. It is thought that loons either see the reflective lure and go after it, assuming it is a fish, or accidentally ingest the sinker when picking up bits of rock on the lake bed, which is necessary for proper digestion. Lead poisoned loons are weakened and unable to fly or dive. They will stop eating, have seizures, and get diarrhoea and paralysis of neck muscles. Lead poisoned bald eagles are usually found on the ground unable to fly in a weakened and thin state. They often have a drooped head and wings and are unable to respond to threats by other predators. The poisoning is fatal without treatment and can be fatal even with treatment if the lead levels are high enough or the animal goes too long without receiving care. Anytime we receive a bald eagle that is unable to fly, but with no signs of injury, lead is my first suspicion. The bird is x-rayed to look for lead, though absence of lead on an x-ray still warrants further investigation in a symptomatic bird. If the eagle ingested the pellet more than two weeks ago, the powerful muscles and presence of other grit in the digestive tract will grind the lead down and release it into the blood stream, making it undetectable by x-rays. In these kinds of cases, a blood sample is sent to confirm the diagnosis and then we start the long process of chelation therapy to try and remove the lead from the victim. This means injections for five to ten days, follow-up blood work, intravenous fluids and tube-feeding to support an animal too sick and weak to ingest food or water. These birds require high maintenance, supportive care until they can stand and eat on their own – they will be in recovery for weeks to months if they survive. One typical case we received involved a loon seen swimming in circles and unable to dive. The people who noted this were unable to capture it and monitored the loon for one day. The next day the bird, a mature male, was found on land in a weakened state. It was brought to us and died within hours despite medical therapy – it was simply too far gone. We confirmed a diagnosis of lead poisoning with x-rays, blood tests and an autopsy. One lead sinker killed this bird. The person who found the bird called me several days later to tell me that its mate swam back and forth near where the poisoned loon beached, making distress vocalizations for days after its mate died an unnecessary death. How can you prevent this? The answer is simple. Avoid using products containing lead, and in particular, do not use lead shot or fishing gear. Alternatives such as steel and bismuth do exist and are available.  Ask for and demand these alternatives in tackle, hunting and bait shops. You may just save a life.
An x-ray of a lead sinker inside the body of a loon admitted to Cobequid Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre

Sable Island will be a National Park
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Sable Island will be a National Park

The news has been leaked!
According to news reports here and here, Sable Island -- haven for migratory birds, home to wild horses, and known as the Graveyard of the Atlantic by sailors -- will become a national park.
Bottom line, this is good news. Important bird habitat will receive permanent protection. But conferring national park designation upon this tiny strip of coastal dune habitat is not without its challenges. The biggest potential problem: more people.
From the Globe and Mail:
Until now, anyone who wanted to visit Sable Island needed a permit from the Canadian Coast Guard, which holds jurisdiction over the island under the Canada Shipping Act. Fewer than 100 people arrived on the island each year under the old system, because getting there isn’t easy. Sable experiences up to 127 days of fog annually and can be reached only by chartered boat or plane. But interest from tourists has been increasing...
The risk of increased visitors that comes with the island’s national park designation really underscores the need for a park management plan that strictly limits visitor numbers and outlines timing of visits, visitor activities and services, to ensure the island is truly protected in the long term.
Photo: Ipswich Savannah Sparrow, by Zoe Lucas, Sable Island Green Horse Society.

Sable Island May Receive Permanent Protection Tomorrow
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Sable Island May Receive Permanent Protection Tomorrow

Sable Island, a narrow stretch of globally important bird habitat located approximately 300 km offshore from Halifax, may be granted permanent protection status as either a national park or national wildlife area, when Environment Minister Jim Prentice makes an announcement tomorrow afternoon. The word “sandbar” cannot convey the majesty of Sable Island’s biodiversity. Over 330 bird species have been sighted here, including virtually the entire breeding population of Ipswich Savannah Sparrows. Thousands of Arctic and Common Tern nest on site, as do thousands of Herring and Great Black-backed Gulls, which prey on the terns’ young with alarming success.

The sandbar supports more than 175 plant species and 600 catalogued invertebrates. The marine areas support diverse mammals, including 50,000 breeding Grey Seals. Sable Island’s only terrestrial mammals—and its most controversial and famous residents—are several hundred wild and unmanaged horses.
Nature Canada and Bird Studies Canada designated Sable Island an Important Bird Area over a decade ago, and we’ve been trying to secure greater protection for this highly valued natural space ever since. Though the island doesn’t face the same development pressures that many other Important Bird Areas do, uncontrolled access to the island can disturb nesting birds and accelerate erosion of the sandbar.
Turning the island into a protected area is definitely good news. But a national park or wildlife area could open the island to public access and may increase the risks of erosion and habitat degradation on the island's fragile 34 square kilometre, largely coastal, dune ecosystem. Currently, the few human inhabitants of Sable Island conduct research for environmental monitoring.
A new national park or wildlife area would require strict site management, visitor education and enforcement guidelines to safeguard the island's ecological integrity. Additional investment in federal protected areas programs would also be necessary to properly steward and manage the new park or wildlife area.
We’re waiting eagerly to hear the details in tomorrow’s announcement!

Sable Island Announcement Greeted with Hope, Caution
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Sable Island Announcement Greeted with Hope, Caution

The Honourable Jim Prentice, Canada’s Environment Minister and Minister Responsible for Parks Canada, and the Honourable John MacDonell, Nova Scotia’s Minister of Natural Resources, announced earlier this week that Sable Island will soon be designated a National Park or National Wildlife Area. Both governments have also signed a Memorandum of Understanding in which they outline their roles for the coming year in order to protect Sable Island. Sable Island, a narrow 40 km strip, is located approximately 300 km offshore from Halifax and is home to various wildlife species - from wild horses to migratory birds. According to Parks Canada it is also home to 'virtually the world’s entire population of vulnerable Ispwich Savannah Sparrow.' An existing migratory bird sanctuary protects birds and their nests on the island but affords little protection to bird habitat. Find out more about Sable Island and other important bird habitats like it by visiting the national Important Birds Areas website at http://www.ibacanada.ca/. Nature Canada supports this joint government action to increase habitat protection for marine mammals, seabird colonies and species at risk, including the Ipswich Sparrow and the Roseate Tern. However, we caution that a national park or wildlife area could open the island to public access and may increase the risks of erosion and habitat degradation on the island's fragile 23 square kilometre coastal dune ecosystems. Currently, the few human inhabitants of Sable Island conduct research or environmental monitoring. While either protected area designation would significantly improve habitat protection on the island, the government must ensure it limits human impacts on the island’s ecosystems. Designating Sable Island as Protected Area should be noted as one of Canada's achievements for the International Year of Biodiversity.

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