Ontario Nature Blog

Protecting wild species and wild spaces since 1931

Can genetics help bats?

conservation_FinalSummer evenings used to be filled with the acrobatic flitting of bats chasing their next insect meal. Unfortunately, bats have vacated the night sky over much of eastern North America due to an invasive fungal disease that is decimating populations.

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Let’s plant natives!

diana's blog top photo sm

Imagine you are relaxing in your beautiful garden, enjoying the natural beauty, the sounds, the colors, the scents. Now imagine you could do all of this and contribute to the protection of native biodiversity at the same time. You can make this happen by adding native plants to your garden.

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8 ways to endure the perils of field work

Queensnake, credit: Joe Crowley

Queensnake, credit: Joe Crowley

Field work can be fun and rewarding, but it does have its challenges. My colleagues and I have endured many unfortunate events while traipsing about the wilder parts of Ontario. Bug bites, falling trees, unplanned pond and cave entries, thunderstorms, borderline hypothermia, skunk sprays and pulled groins are just some of the troubles we have faced.

Last weekend, on a queensnake survey in Bruce Peninsula National Park (BPNP), we ran into more trouble in the form of a 5,000 pound canoe.

Tanya Pulfer, conservation science manager, and I planned to search for the endangered queensnake along the shorelines in the Bruce Peninsula National Park and had borrowed Park Canada’s canoe. Our backs ached as we lugged this beast down an unmarked portage route, hauling it over fallen trees, while tripping on roots and rocks. When we finally reached our river destination, the water level was so low that it appeared as a thin ribbon surrounded by thick mats of aquatic vegetation.

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Avian adventures in eastern Ontario

juvenile Cooper's hawk, Credit: Dawn Huczek CC BY 2.0

juvenile Cooper’s hawk, Credit: Dawn Huczek CC BY 2.0

Eastern Ontario is famous for wildlife viewing – especially birdwatching – in autumn. Not only do enthusiasts enjoy inspiring fall colours, there are plenty of places to see birds heading south. Shorebirds, songbirds and raptors are on the wing, and many species have already been spotted migrating. Even on casual tours, visitors can see dozens of species all within a single day.

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Species at risk languishing in limbo

barn swallow, credit: GrrlScientist CC BY 2.0

barn swallow, Credit: GrrlScientist CC BY 2.0

When governments pass laws that set out explicit requirements and timelines for action to be taken, you would expect that they’d be prepared to obey the law. Not so with Canada’s Species at Risk Act (SARA).

Under SARA, the federal government must decide whether to list a species within nine months of receiving its designation as at risk by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC). Yet about 150 designated species at risk are stuck in limbo awaiting listing decisions.

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