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Calendar Species Spotlight: July Gosling!
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Calendar Species Spotlight: July Gosling!

This blog was written by guest blogger Tina-Louise Rossit  What’s black, white and brown, and maybe more Canadian than maple syrup? If you guess the Canadian Goose, well, spot on! Now here’s 4 fun facts you probably didn’t know about our lovable geese! #1 Did you know you’ve most likely mistaken the Cackling Goose for the Canadian Goose? But it’s only because they’re virtually identical! The difference is seen is their size and vocalizations. The Cackling goose is tiny compared to our Canadian goose, and whereas the Canada goose has a familiar honking call, the Cackling goose impressively sounds like an old lady laughing at a very funny joke. Have a hear here to check out the differences: Canadian Goose: [audio mp3="https://wxv73zw8wg-flywheel.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/CANGOO_1.honkingofseveralgeese_KYle_1.mp3"][/audio] Cackling Goose: [audio mp3="https://wxv73zw8wg-flywheel.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/CACGOO_1.callsofseveral_AKkc_1.mp3"][/audio]   #2 V is not for victory! The familiar V formation in the sky we see each spring and fall actually has a cool scientific purpose for this choice of letter! In a V formation, the geese synchronize their wingbeats from one other to catch the uplift eddies from the goose in front. This will efficiently save physical energy for their long-distance migrations. (So, I guess it is like a victory?) What’s more, is that this formation has amazed engineer and behavioural scientists for decades, even inspiring the flight mechanics for man-made aircraft. #3 Contrary to popular beliefs, Canadian geese do not naturally eat bread! (Shocker, I know). Actually, all birds don’t naturally eat bread. It’s quite bad for their digestive systems just like junk food every day is bad for ours. Canadian geese are herbivores. They like grasses, leaves, sedges, seeds, grains, aquatic plants and fruits (apparently blueberries are a winning favourite). In addition, they will occasionally add in a juicy aquatic insect and/or aquatic invertebrate. #4 Canadian geese are pretty family-orientated! A male and a female will bond and mate for life, i.e monogamous. The pair will return to the same nesting area year after year. Usually this spot is where one of the parent themselves, hatched. Canadian geese represent a bird species that has both maternal and paternal care for their offspring, named goslings. Mom and dad will be very protective to the point of being quite aggressive to anyone, or thing, that seems like a threat to their goslings. A family sticks together often walking in single file with mama as lead, goslings in the middle, and papa in the rear! What a beautiful sight. And there you have it! Time to share these fun facts at your next party! (Sure to steal the limelight!).

Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas
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Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas

This blog was written by writing intern Gabriel Planas Over the history of nature conservation in Canada, parks and protected areas have been little more than backdrops to human recreation rather than concerted efforts to preserve natural environments. As a result, these projects often forced indigenous populations to relocate or imposed heavy jurisdictions that eliminated Indigenous practices and economies that benefited Canada’s biodiversity. Fortunately, in 2015 the Indigenous Circle of Elders (ICE) was formed to advise the Federal Government of Canada on ways in which Indigenous communities can contribute to Canada’s commitment to reaching the Aichi targets by 2020. These targets were created in 2010 during the Conference of Parties in Nagoya, Aichi prefecture of Japan when countries from around the world, adopted a plan regarding biodiversity. In order to meet these targets, the federal government has been working in tandem with ICE in order to establish Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas (IPCAs) around the country. IPCAs focus on protecting and conserving ecosystems through indigenous laws, governance and knowledge systems. Indigenous communities in these areas take on the responsibility of protecting and conserving ecosystems. While the individual conservation objectives of each IPCA will differ, all of them endeavor to elevate Indigenous rights and responsibilities, by affirming the validity of Indigenous legal traditions, customary and cultural practices as well as their abilities to help conserve biodiversity in Canada. [caption id="attachment_34526" align="alignleft" width="366"]Image of a Semipalmated Sandpiper Semipalmated Sandpiper[/caption] IPCAs present a unique opportunity to heal both the land and the people who inhabit it by moving towards true reconciliation between Indigenous peoples and settler societies. Things once withheld or unavailable to these communities may be developed through these areas, such as a stable foundation for local Indigenous economies, opportunities for Indigenous peoples to reconnect with the land and the revitalization of indigenous languages. The promoting of respect for the knowledge systems, protocols and ceremonies of Indigenous peoples provide an opportunity for Canadians to formulate a greater understanding of Indigenous cultures. While these areas mainly centre on promoting Indigenous communities and their cultural independence, IPCAs have profound benefits for Canadians. These areas have the ability to alleviate the stress of unsustainable human and industrial development. Indigenous groups who will operate these areas integrate holistic approaches to conservation of biodiversity that results in healthier ecosystems. These ecosystems in turn provide cleaner air and water which contribute to healthier populations and a reduction of Canada’s contribution to climate change. It is vital to both our environment and Canada’s obligation to reconciliation that areas like these are supported. They allow Indigenous communities to flourish in ways that were previously unavailable to them and promotes their culture practices in a positive manner that may just help Canada reach its Aichi target by 2020.

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Spring Bird Feeding: Tips And Tricks To Get Birds Into Your Backyard!
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Spring Bird Feeding: Tips And Tricks To Get Birds Into Your Backyard!

Why Feed Wild Birds? Spring can be a stressful time for migratory birds, after arriving from their wintering grounds it can be difficult to find the food and resources they need to survive. Many of the berries and seeds these birds depend upon for food will have been eaten over the winter and will not have begun to grow back yet. Furthermore, these birds will also be attempting to build nests, fight for territory, find a mate, and incubate their young. This is no small task due to natural bird habitats are being destroyed by urban and industrial development projects as well as climate change. Image of a rose breasted grosbeakPreparation While well-constructed bird feeders are not necessarily required to feed birds, without one the food you leave out may attract unwanted animals such as squirrels or dominant birds such as starlings, grackles, and squirrels. If you already own a bird feeder, make sure to clean it of any feed from the last season to avoid any mold or possible parasite growth within the feeder. Be aware of what birds occupy your neighborhood to help you select the best ingredients and location for your feeder. Sometimes changing the location can attract or discourage certain animals and species of birds from stealing from your feeder. If you do not own a bird feeder but would like to purchase one, links to purchase high quality bird feeders can be found here and here. Feeding The most important part of feeding birds is the mix of ingredients you use to attract them. Many commercial bird feeder mixes can often be ineffective in enticing more desirable bird species. Products that birds find undesirable such as milo are used to fill up these mixes, resulting in birds picking through the mix, creating a mess bellow the feeder. This mess can often attract unwanted animals or form a sludgy mixture that can make birds sick, depending on the ingredients used. Ingredients for Feeder Image of an eastern bluebird Sunflower Chips: These unshelled sunflower seeds are great for attracting bug-eating birds like robins, warblers and tanagers before bugs resurface for the summer. Also good for attracting Chickadees, nuthatches, house finches and cardinals. Safflower: With its hard-thick shell it can be hard for some birds to consume this seed. It is however, a favorite of chickadees, doves, and sparrows. According to some sources, house sparrows, European starlings and squirrels do not like safflower. Results may vary according to area. Millet: Millet is a common grain that is very popular among ground-feeding birds such as sparrows, doves and cardinals. As this grain is most popular with ground feeding birds, it may be beneficial to serve this from a low-set tray feeder to attract more birds. Peanuts: Peanuts are an impressive source of nutrition for birds such as blue jays, chickadees, and woodpeckers. Unfortunately, they may also attract unwanted animals such as raccoons and squirrels. Mealworms: Mealworms are a great way of attracting bug-eating birds such as blue jays, robins, Wrens, Warblers and Mocking birds Suet: Suet can attract all manner of birds on cool spring days. It is a high-energy food made with the fat found around the kidneys and loin of cattle or sheep designed to keep the stomach of birds full and warm throughout the winter. While suet can spoil quickly in the warmer weather, there are a number of alternative recipes to prevent it from melting that can be found here as well as here. Nectar: Though humming birds require specialized feeders, you can attract them by providing them with homemade nectar, the recipe for which can be found here.

The Iconic Gray Wolf
Photo by: Lynn Clement
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The Iconic Gray Wolf

Written by Nature Canada's writing intern, Gabriel Planas Nature Canada’s featured species for May is the Gray Wolf. Latin Name: Canis Lupus Life Span: 6-8 years Description: Also known as, timber or western wolves, Gray Wolves, are one of the most iconic and mythologized animals on planet earth. Known for their beautiful gray and sometimes golden brown coats, these wolves can be found in a variety of environments and continents, from Asia to Europe and North America. This notoriety almost lead to their extinction in the southern United States due to the popularity of their pelts and their tendency to hunt animals that humans have domesticated. Sometimes weighing up to 120 pounds and measuring almost six feet in length, these apex predators would be a frightening sight to stumble across in the wild. Despite their intimidating size and the 1500 pounds per square inch of pressure provided by their jaws, Gray Wolves hunt in packs to take down their prey. Hunting: Their preferred prey, ungulates (Deer, elk, moose, caribou, bison), are experts in evading wolves. 84-87 out of 100 of prey escape while being hunted, meaning that a pack of wolves may not eat for days. For this reason, Wolves will often eat 20% of their own body weight. When wolves do kill their prey, they will often be the young, the old or the sick of the herd they are hunting. Wolves live in packs of 2 to 20, depending on the amount of prey available within their territory. This territory is marked by all manner of bodily functions (urine mostly) and is protected against other packs. Packs follow a strict hierarchical structure with an alpha male at the top, while their mate acts as their second. This pair is often the only wolves to mate in a pack with the other wolves helping to take care of the offspring. Puppies! Wolf pups are born completely blind and deaf; however, they possess a well-developed sense of smell. Litters are typically about 4-6 pups which take up to 63 days to grow inside the womb with an additional 12 to 15 days to open their eyes. These pups are not like any puppies you would see in the dog park as they begin hunting with the rest of the pack after only 7-8 months. Before this however, pups are fed milk until 4-5 weeks after which meat is provided by all members of the pack. When pups are hungry at this age, they will lick around the mouth of another wolf, which prompts the wolf to regurgitate food stored in their stomach. This provides a sort of “baby food” for wolves.

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Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Eh?
Flip Nicklen/Minden Pictures
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Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Eh?

This blog is written by guest blogger Tina-Louise Rossit. Task someone with naming a Canadian species and they are likely to mention the polar bear, the moose, the beaver, or the loon. However, we really do have more animals than simply those on our coins! Canada is so spacious, and there are thousands of animals that have found their place amongst the different ecosystems. There are the mountain animals, the forest dwellers, those accustomed to the tundra and those of the sea. Today’s honorary species is the legendary sea unicorn, the Monodon monoceros, or in plain terms, the Narwhal. This “sea unicorn” has a unique feature that has allowed humans to come up with spectacular stories about the it for centuries. Let's uncover the truth to those tales!


[caption id="attachment_35979" align="aligncenter" width="800"] Photo by Glenn Williams[/caption] The most common misconception is that the Narwhal has a horn, when in actuality - it’s a modified tooth! The Narwhal belongs to the family of toothed whales called the Odontocetes. Its closest relative, the beluga, has the similar stocky body, short head and absent dorsal fin. However, unlike other toothed whales, the Narwhal only has two teeth, one incisor tooth that remains embedded in the skull, and the second incisor tooth that elongates into a long, spiral tusk. [caption id="attachment_35978" align="alignleft" width="300"] Range of narwhal populations in Arctic Canada (From Narwhal, Underwater World)[/caption] But why this feature? What’s its purpose? To find out, marine biologists and dentists have teamed up to study the Narwhal in its home habitat. There are three recognized populations of Narwhals for which two of them are the cold Canadian waters of Baffin Bay and Hudson Bay. These expeditions brought back fascinating results. Firstly, the tusk isn’t even used for defense or sparring as one may hypothesize. Nor it is for impaling prey or to break up ice sheets! Secondly, only males have them. Females may develop them on rare occasions and even rarer is a male with two tusks. Interestingly, Narwhals don’t have any other teeth. That means their mouths are toothless. This may be why they eat fish and squid that are nice and easy to slurp down. Yum! Here’s what else; with an exceptional amount of nerve endings from the base to the tip of these tusks, the Narwhal tusk is a giant sensory organ. The nerve endings can detect even the slightest changes in temperatures, salt content and pressure of the waters. With only males with tusks, it means that sexual selection played a big part in its evolutionary development. If the males with longer tusks and more nerve endings were able to detect the location of females to mate, they would be the one to pass on their genes. [caption id="attachment_35980" align="alignright" width="300"] One of these is Real, from Pierre Pomet's "Histoire générale des drogues, traitant des plantes, des animaux, et des minéraux." (Paris, 1694)[/caption]   Next, scientists are going down to the molecular level to map out the mechanism for this trait expression. What genes signal the spiral formation of the tusk? What are the structures of the hydroxyapatite crystals, which are the main mineral in enamel and dentin? Do the structures differ from other toothed-whales and other mammals? And why? Until we find out more, there’s still a magical aura around the Narwhal’s natural history. There aren’t too many animals whose mythical nature have graced as many history books, or that have inspired legend and lore since the time of Ancient Greece. Despite the mystery of the Narwhal, if one thing is for sure, it is that these sea-unicorns will continue to leave us in awe.
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Information used in this post is from the following sources: Narwhal: At a Glance Narwhal Tusk Research Narwhal: Monodon monoceros COSEWIC: Assessment and Update Status Report For a dentist, the narwhal’s smile is a mystery of evolution

Budget 2018: A Billion Dollar Investment to Protect Nature in Canada
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Budget 2018: A Billion Dollar Investment to Protect Nature in Canada

[caption id="attachment_31283" align="alignleft" width="150"] Stephen Hazell, Director of Conservation and General Counsel[/caption] Nature lovers – rejoice: Nature’s protection is taking flight and the 2018 federal budget is an amazing first step! The recent $1.3 billion investment in new protected areas and in species at risk conservation is a groundbreaking initiative for the entire country, and marks the beginning of the most exciting environmental campaign in Canada over the next five years. Nature Canada congratulates Finance Minister Morneau, Prime Minister Trudeau, and Environment and Climate Change Minister McKenna on Budget 2018. We think that Canada's wildlife would also applaud. Going beyond landscapes, inland waters and oceans, Nature Canada is also pleased that the federal government will invest in protected areas to be established by provincial and Indigenous governments. 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 surely an important step toward reconciliation. Nature conservation is no longer something that is nice to have, it is something Canada needs to have. Even with this federal investment, meeting Canada's international commitment to protect 17% of our lands and waters by 2020 will be a challenge. Fortunately, Nature Canada, along with provincial and local nature groups, are poised and ready for the next steps. 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. Working with governments, local and Indigenous communities, and industry, we are ready to take full advantage of the opportunities to protect ecologically important places across the country, whether grasslands in Saskatchewan, Carolinian forests in Ontario, Acadian forests in the Maritimes, or wetlands in British Columbia or Quebec.


Why not send a letter of thanks now to key government officials and remind them of the work needed to protect 17% of our lands and waters by 2020? To read more on the Budget 2018, please see the following:
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Thank You for Caring for Nature This Holiday Season!
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Thank You for Caring for Nature This Holiday Season!

[caption id="attachment_33387" align="alignleft" width="150"]Image of Jodi Joy Jodi Joy, Director of Development[/caption] As we ring in the joys of the holiday season and look with gratitude to another new year, we often reflect on the key moments of the past year, whether through lists on TV or in the paper or read online. With every member who shares their nature discoveries, memories or wishes, I’m reminded again and again how much nature nurtures our souls.  It also reminds me why our members feel it’s important to defend wildlife and wilderness. It’s truly inspiring and heartwarming to know that you care dearly about nature. Thank you for your kindness, compassion and dedication to nature this past year. Your generous support is always hard at work to defend animals, plants, and the clean air and water we all depend on. mountain lake At this sharing and caring time of the year, you might enjoy these reflections from your fellow Nature Canada members that hopefully will put a smile on your face as you read and nod along: “Nature is a never-ending source of inspiration, restoration and discovery for me. I think for all of humanity, when one opens their eyes and heart to it, from a single wild bloom in an urban field to the broad majesty one encounters on a mountain hike. So much to discover and care for.”Dorothy, BC, member since 1999 “I find solace in nature — the woods, fields, swamps, running water, rocks and cliffs are like cathedrals. Birdsong and glimpses of wildlife connect me to the living web that sustains us all." “I still remember watching the morning mist and hearing the loon’s cry at the lake for the first time as a little girl sixty years ago, like it was yesterday.”Marion, ON, member since 2013 “After camping for nearly half a century … I still love it so! My wish for our beautiful country is that Canadian nature be protected, nurtured and respected more than before and that the generations that come will understand and appreciate the importance of this vital symbiosis.”Julie, QC, member since 2003 “We say nature like it’s something separate from us. We are nature, we are part of wilderness, we must protect nature to protect mankind.” – Gisele, ON, member since 2003 “My wish is that every Canadian be grateful for all that is great about our magnificent natural heritage.”Ann, AB, member since 1998 “I hope that Canada’s citizens vow to work together to protect and expand our remaining wild spaces. We need to protect our biodiversity. We need stronger environmental protection to do so. Every form of life in Canada deserves clean air, water and soil. That’s our commitment for the next 150 years.”Karen, ON, member since 2001 As we look forward to 2018 (oh my gosh, where did the last year go?!) — an enormous THANK YOU to all of our members who stand alongside us to be a strong voice for nature. You and I can be thankful for all the gifts nature provides.

Season's Greetings and Happy New Year!

P.S. One final parting thought from our AB member Catharina:

"The greatest gift we can give to each other this year should be … an ongoing commitment to preserve and protect our precious wildlands!"

Member Spotlight: Nature Lover, Canadian Senator and Honorary Chair of Women for Nature Diane Griffin
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Member Spotlight: Nature Lover, Canadian Senator and Honorary Chair of Women for Nature Diane Griffin

[caption id="attachment_33387" align="alignleft" width="150"]Image of Jodi Joy Jodi Joy
Director of Development[/caption] “We all need peace and quiet, beautiful natural places to be our touchstones and to replenish our souls. A walk in nature does that for me. Also, just knowing we have natural places and wildlife is satisfying”. – Senator Diane Griffin Senator Diane Griffin is a lifelong and passionate environmentalist. She’s had a stellar public service career including serving as PEI’s Deputy Minister of Environment and Energy and as a Town Councillor in Stratford, PEI. She’s also served as the President of our Board of Directors and received our Pimlott Award for her incredible dedication and work to protect nature. An accomplished writer, who published a book of Atlantic Wildflowers, she has also penned numerous articles on topics ranging from agricultural, eco-economics, national forest strategies, natural heritage and more. [caption id="attachment_34742" align="alignright" width="421"]Image of Senator Diane Griffin Senator Diane Griffin[/caption] Senator Griffin encourages Canadians of all ages to explore nature, and take action in ways that make sense in our own homes and hearts, acknowledging recently thatwhat we do in our individual homes and communities is going to be significant for the conservation of Canada’s natural resources. Today, she brings a strong voice for nature and conservation to Canada’s Senate and is also the Honorary Chair of our Women for Nature program. Three Women for Nature projects are launching this year. Together with your gifts, we’ve supported six projects imagined by Young Women for Nature. As well, we’ll launch 10 new mentorships empowering up and coming nature leaders. And the Women for Nature E-Dialogues series, moderated by Professor Ann Dale, will begin later this month. These real-time, online discussions will stimulate ideas, dialogue and local action around the critically important topic of Biodiversity. You can find out all the topics, and join the conversation here. By instilling a passionate commitment to nature within our young nature leaders, Women for Nature members are investing in the future of conservation in Canada. The Women for Nature mentorship program and E-Dialogue series will bring strong voices together for nature to support the future protection of nature and wildlife in Canada. “As the Honorary Chair of Nature Canada’s Women for Nature initiative, I am delighted to see that Canada’s nature is in good hands. These young women and their projects are a step in the right direction to help enable more young Canadians to connect with nature and assist in protecting our precious wildlife and habitats.” You can find the latest news on Women for Nature here. And if you are interested in learning more about our initiative, I would love to connect with you! You can reach me at jjoy@naturecanada.ca or 1-800-267-4088 extension 239.

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Birds and the Danger of Window Collisions
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Birds and the Danger of Window Collisions

[caption id="attachment_31138" align="alignleft" width="150"]Image of Sarantia Katsaras Bird Conservation Program Technician Sarantia Katsaras[/caption] Windows are one of the leading human causes of death for birds. Windows are not always visible to birds due to reflected trees or skies, a view straight through the window, or potted plants or living walls on the other side of the glass that draw them in. In order for a window to become visible to birds, it needs to be “broken up.” Visual markers such as patterned window films, window curtains, or window screens make windows visible to birds. By adding these features, it breaks the window up and lets the bird know that it cannot pass through. [caption id="attachment_33763" align="alignright" width="225"]This photo is of 1,800 birds that fatally collided with windows in Ottawa this past year. This photo is of 1,800 birds that fatally collided with windows in Ottawa this past year. Demonstration put on by Safe Wings Ottawa/[/caption] As many as one billion birds fatally collide with windows in North America annually. According to Safe Wings Ottawa, as many as 250,000 birds are killed by windows every year in Ottawa and Gatineau alone. Most window collisions occur during the fall and spring when the birds are migrating. In 2016 there were 101 different species of birds recorded in Ottawa. This includes species at risk such as the Peregrine Falcon, Chimney Swift, Eastern Whip-poor-will, Eastern Wood-Pewee, Wood Thrush, Rusty Blackbird, and Canada Warbler. FLAP Canada estimates that 1 to 10 birds die per building, per year. For reasons currently unknown, the Canada Warbler is highly vulnerable to window collisions compared to the average species. Canada Warblers are at 17.9 times greater risk of colliding with all building types, 25.8 times greater risk of colliding with high-rise buildings, and 46.7 times greater risk of colliding with low-rise buildings. The Canada Warbler is a threatened species and its population cannot withstand this easily preventable threat. Interestingly, birds are more susceptible to low-rise buildings than high-rise buildings. Birds typically collide with windows between 50 to 60 feet tall. Make your windows at home visible to birds by taking these steps To learn more about this issue and this significant threat to birds visit our Save Bird Lives page.

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Right Whales closer to the brink
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Right Whales closer to the brink

[caption id="attachment_22697" align="alignleft" width="150"]Image of Stephen Hazell Stephen Hazell
Director of Conservation
and General Counsel[/caption] Twelve highly endangered North Atlantic Right Whales have been killed in the past month in the Gulf of St Lawrence and U.S. eastern seaboard by ship strikes and fishing gear entanglement. Unfortunately, the global population of these whales is only 500. Nature Canada applauds the decision by the Government of Canada to slow ships to ten knots (19 km/hour) in the western Gulf of St. Lawrence where the whales have been frequenting this summer. Clearly this decision will not be enough to reverse the decline of this species. First, the decision applies only to a small part of the range of Right Whales, and not to other important habitat such as the Bay of Fundy. Second, other threats to Right Whales such as oil spills from tankers, oil and gas drilling, seismic blasts and ocean pollution such as toxics and plastics garbage remain unaddressed. Nature Canada has been an active intervener in the Northern Gateway, Trans Mountain, and Energy East primarily to ensure that the impacts of these proposed oil pipeline and tanker projects on marine birds and mammals are well-understood before decisions are made. Nature Canada has joined the conversation and you can too-visit the Government of Canada’s Let’s Talk Whales to learn more. https://www.letstalkwhales.ca/  

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