Archive for the ‘Conservation’ Category

Ontario wages war on feral hogs!

- September 25th, 2014

(Somewhat flattering photo of feral hog’s ‘less destructive’ domestic cousin)

 

Word has just hit the street that the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (MNRF) Kemptville district is waging war on feral hogs in Eastern Ontario!

Should a hunter spot one of these feral hogs while out in the field, the Ministry is encouraging them to ‘shoot to kill’ and, I assume, ask questions later.

The feral hog is described by the MNRF as a wild beast that damages crops, transmits diseases to domestic swine and can be a threat to human safety.

Yikes!!

All hunters and land-owners are encouraged to shoot every wild hog they see under ‘Provisions of the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act’ and have even distributed a ‘tip sheet’ describing the wild boar ‘kill zone’ and best location for a effective kill shot!

Wild hogs have been reported east of Ottawa in the Plantagenet and Hawkesbury area and have caused havoc in many areas of North America.

The public is encouraged to report any wild hog encounter to the MNRF: (613) 258-8267 -  ask to be connected to Kemptville office

Outdoorsguy

P.S. Thanks to my pal Keebler, via twitter, for the heads-up on this one!

Follow me on Twitter @ThatOutdoorsGuy  (but leave the hogs at home)

Wildlife Speaker Series this week – Whitetails

- September 17th, 2014

Thanks to my pal Gary (Star Whisperer) Boyle for the following information on this week’s City of Ottawa wildlife speaker.

Back in February, the City held another Speaker Series featuring an Urban Coyote expert and I suggested to them  they give me the heads-up next time a speaker comes to town. Evidently the message still never got through!

White-tailed Deer – September 18, 2014

 

Thursday, September 18, 2014
7 to 9 p.m.
Ben Franklin Place
101 Centrepointe Drive

The City of Ottawa will be holding its third Wildlife Speakers Series event on Thursday, September 18 at 7 p.m. at Ben Franklin Place, 101 Centrepointe Drive. This session will address white-tailed deer.

White-tailed deer

People and deer have a long history together. White-tailed deer are valued as a game species, and for their grace and beauty, but they can also become a pest to farmers and gardeners. Motor vehicle collisions involving deer are a major safety concern, especially during the fall.

The City has invited experts from the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry to present information on white-tailed deer ecology and biology to improve our understanding of these wild neighbours.

Michael Gatt is the Ministry’s Senior Wildlife Biologist for our region. He has worked with a variety of public stakeholders to develop key strategies for the prevention and management of conflicts with deer and other wildlife.

Dr. Brent Patterson is a research scientist with the Ministry, and an adjunct professor with Trent University. He has spent many years exploring the ecology of deer and their canine predators (wolves and coyotes).

In addition to the presentation, there will be a nature slideshow and an environmental exposition from 6 to 9 p.m. at Ben Franklin Place for residents to learn more about Ottawa’s wildlife, natural environment and local environmental initiatives. The City will also provide information on traffic safety (Speeding Costs You Deerly) and public health (Lyme disease).

The City will hold one more event in the Wildlife Speakers Series this year. The series is intended to increase residents’ knowledge and appreciation of wildlife and promote coexistence through understanding and respect. All of these events are free of charge.

For more information:
Amy MacPherson
Planning and Growth Management
613-580-2424, ext. 14873
E-mail: amy.macpherson@ottawa.ca

SeaWorld invests $10 Million in Killer Whale Conservation

- August 19th, 2014

SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. recently announced its plans to build new, first-of-its-kind killer whale environments and that it will fund new programs to protect ocean health and killer whales in the wild.

The new projects will build on SeaWorld’s legacy of providing state-of-the-art, innovative homes for its animals, and will offer park guests unique and inspiring killer whale encounters for generations to come.  As part of its vision for the future, the company also pledged $10 million in matching funds for killer whale research and is embarking on a multi-million dollar partnership focused on ocean health, the leading concern for all killer whales and marine mammals.

“For 50 years, SeaWorld has transformed how the world views marine life. The unprecedented access to marine mammals that our parks provide has increased our knowledge of the ocean and inspired generations,” said Jim Atchison, Chief Executive Officer and President of SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. “Our new killer whale homes and research initiatives have just as bold a vision: to advance global understanding of these animals, to educate, and to inspire conservation efforts to protect killer whales in the wild.”

Transformational New Environments

The first of the new environments will be built at SeaWorld San Diego where the killer whale environment is planned to have a total water volume of 10 million gallons, nearly double that of the existing facility. With a planned maximum depth of 50 feet, surface area of nearly 1.5 acres and spanning more than 350 feet in length, the new environment will also have views exceeding 40 feet in height, providing guests with the world’s largest underwater viewing experience of killer whales. 

Named the Blue World Project because of its size and scope, the new environment will allow for increased engagement with SeaWorld experts through new enriching experiences and other interactive programs. The environment will enhance the educational experience for guests, foster deeper knowledge of killer whales and their ocean environment and inspire them to celebrate and conserve the natural world.

Expanding on SeaWorld’s legacy of leading-edge animal environment design, the enlarged environment will provide killer whales with even more dynamic opportunities.  It will support the whales’ broad range of behaviors and provide choices that can challenge the whales both physically and mentally. 

Among other things, it is planned to include a “fast water current” that allows whales to swim against moving water, thus functionally increasing speed and diversity. Innovative features focused on husbandry and animal care will offer SeaWorld’s animal health professionals and independent scientists unique access to the whales that can lead to a better understanding and care of the animals both in the parks and in the wild.

The San Diego environment is expected to open to the public in 2018 with new killer whale homes to follow at SeaWorld Orlando and SeaWorld San Antonio. 

Killer Whale Research

 As part of the Blue World Project, SeaWorld has committed $10 million in matching funds focused on threats to killer whales in the wild, especially those identified by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration related to the endangered Southern Resident Killer Whale.  That includes new projects already funded this year: one that will help to understand the hearing ranges of killer whales and the other that will provide insight into nutritional status and reproduction of the Southern Resident Killer Whale.  The matching funds will be in addition to killer whale research conducted by SeaWorld’s scientists, which includes nearly 50 studies to date. 

 Recognizing that ocean health is a leading concern for killer whales and all marine mammals in the wild, the company also announced it will be embarking on a major multi-million dollar partnership focused on protecting the ocean.   

Advisory Panel

SeaWorld will also engage an Independent Advisory Panel to bring new perspectives and ideas to the project. The panel will focus on the creation of an environment that maximizes the health and wellbeing of the animals. Given the particular expertise of current panelists and those expected to join, the panel will further advise on integrated research projects that can be conducted within the new environment and foster partnerships within the science and academic communities working in the wild. 

 

Current Advisory Panel members include:

  • Dr. Paul Boyle, Senior Vice President for Conservation and Education, Association of Zoos & Aquariums
  • Dr. Heidi Harley, Professor of Psychology, New College of Florida
    • Dr. Dorian Houser, Director of Conservation and Biological Research, National Marine Mammal Foundation
    • Dr. Linda Lowenstein, Professor Emeritus Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology, University of California Davis School of Veterinary Medicine
    • Dr. Shawn Noren, Associate Research Scientist, Institute of Marine Science, University of California Santa Cruz
    • Mr. Tom Otten, Chief Executive Officer, Reef Experience
    • Dr. James F.  Peddie, DVM, Distinguished Faculty Chair, Exotic Animal Training and Management Program, Moorpark College
    • Dr. Paul Ponganis, Research Physiologist, Scripps Institution of Oceanography
    • Dr. Kwane Stewart, Chief Veterinary Officer and National Director, Film and Television Unit, American Humane Association
    • Dr. Pam Yochem, Senior Research Scientist and Executive Vice President, Research, Hubbs SeaWorld Research Institute

For more information on the Blue World Project, please visit www.seaworld.com/blueworld

 

Coyote Seminar – Getting to know our wiley neighbours

- March 3rd, 2014

A seminar entitled;  Coyotes – Getting to know our wiley neighbours, came to Ottawa Friday night…too bad I only heard about it on Saturday after reading SUN Columnist Susan Sherring’s article.

According to Sherring’s column, the seminar given by Dr. Stan Gehrt - a world renowned wildlife ecologist from Ohio State University… was brought to the nation’s capital to “provide insight on how people in urban and rural developments can coexist with coyotes,”

It  would have been nice to attend this seminar since it is  topic near and dear to a lot of people’s hearts in this City and something I have been covering over the past few years, however no one in the City thought to mention it. Having someone who covers the outdoors locally attend the seminar, and then sharing details afterward would have been a terrific idea, don’t you think?

Ottawa’s wildlife seminar series is intended to increase residents’ knowledge and appreciation of wildlife to “promote coexistence through understanding and respect.”

Did anyone attend this seminar, I invite you to share the details of what was presented. There seemed to be some concern over the cost of this seminar, although I find $1300 to be minuscule compared to the importance of dealing with the Urban coyote situation we have.

Outdoorsguy

Tough times for our white-tailed deer

- February 7th, 2014

 

As most of us have feared, this winter looks like it could be a doozy for our white-tailed deer population.  I suppose after a handful of mild winters we are now paying our dues, so to speak.

And bitter cold temperatures this year are the least of the deer’s problem. They can handle the cold but it’s the snow I’m worried about!

Snow conditions, with a weak crust formed by our mid-winter melt and pack, make travel and escape more difficult than usual. So far, we are a long way off the massive snow depth experienced back in 2008- 2009, but with higher than average snowfall this winter and a meagre crust unable to support a deer’s weight, times are tough indeed!

Our friend imacdon has witnessed the results first-hand in these graphic deer kill images taken around his property:

IMG_0508

 

IMG_0509

It is very disappointing to think that after more than 5 years of a population on the rebound, our whitetail herd could be in store for another big hit.

And with a healthy, relatively uncontrolled, predator population in eastern ON and western QC our whitetails will need to pull out all the stops this year in order to survive. Since December  my trailcams have captured scant few deer images, even in the whitetail wintering area. The number of coyote images captured has; however, remained steady.

I know I am crossing my fingers for the deer this year….and my toes too!

 

So,  what can we do to help? Here are three options (I’ve been practising option #2)

1)Backyard feeding

When carried out properly, supplemental deer feeding is a wonderful past-time and can be of benefit to these animals when snow depth reaches more than 1 metre. Finding the proper balance between protein and fibre for the deer’s diet can be tricky and without knowing it many backyard feeders may actually be hurting the animal’s chances of survival.  If you had not started a feeding program during early season, it is probably too late to start now, as the animal’s digestive system would have needed to adapt to the supplemented diet. 

2)Improved Access and predator control

There are other ways we can help deer during the colder months besides feeding.  By creating new access trails and cutting fresh browse, we greatly increase their food availability and expand travel corridors. A network of hard-packed trails will serve as escape routes from predators. By improving access to winter habitat and cutting additional feed, we go a long way to helping these animals make it through the winter. For folks who are looking to help deer this winter, perhaps get out for a little coyote hunting in areas where it is permitted.  It is a challenging sport and less predators around would also help the deer’s chance of survival.

3) Call upon MNR for assistance

Through the Emergency Deer Feeding Program - The MNR ‘s Snow Network for Ontario Wildlife looks at risk assessment and on the very rare occasion will implement an emergency feeding program in certain areas. Over the past 15 years, I believe I’ve only seen this program implemented once! During the winters of 2008-2009 when RECORD snowfall was recorded in Central Canada, no measures were put in place to provide aid to whitetail deer in Ontario. An estimated 30% of the population died-off in just two years!

For more information on the Snow Network for Ontario Wildlife:

http://www.mnr.gov.on.ca/stdprodconsume/groups/lr/@mnr/@fw/documents/document/mnr_e001298.pdf

 

 

Outdoorsguy