Conservation

Conservation related news and events

Illustrated talk: Saskatchewan Grasslands – a Vanishing Landscape?

Posted by on 6. March 2014 in Blog / Journal, Conservation, News & Events | Comments Off on Illustrated talk: Saskatchewan Grasslands – a Vanishing Landscape?

Illustrated talk: Saskatchewan Grasslands – a Vanishing Landscape?

Join Saskatchewan biologist and environmental photographer Dr. Branimir Gjetvaj on a journey of discovery of our diminishing prairie landscapes. Friday, March 28, 2014 at 7 p.m. Royal Saskatchewan Museum 2445 Albert Street in Regina Temperate grasslands are one of the most altered and modified landscapes in the world. Human land-use, including intensive agricultural production and urban development are the leading cause of habitat loss in North America. In Saskatchewan, as in all of North America, 80% of the original grasslands have been converted to crop production and other uses. Degradation and conversion of native prairie to crop production has caused dramatic decline in biodiversity. Approximately 57 grassland wildlife species are currently considered at risk in North America, 28 of which are grassland birds. Current economic forces and government policies are driving an accelerated conversion of grasslands to cropland. Comparable grassland conversion rates have not been seen on the Northern Plains since the 1920s and 1930s, an era that preceded one of the largest ecological disasters in North American history. The expansion of industrial agriculture and continued loss of native grasslands is concerning, especially for its impact on local wildlife and native plant communities, soil conservation, people and social structure of rural communities. In this beautifully illustrated presentation, I will talk about the environmental and social costs of land use change, and the potential impact of habitat loss for prairie species at risk. The presentation is open to general public and admission is free. A reception and refreshments will follow the presentation. Many thanks to the Friends of the Royal Saskatchewan Museum for their support in holding the event. If you have a question about this presentation, give me a call at 306-382-2642 or cell 306-220-5703. My contact e-mail address is branimir [at] shaw.ca     This event takes place ahead of the Public Pastures – Public Interest Annual General Meeting on Saturday, March 29, 2014. (1:00 – 4:30 p.m. at the United Way Building, 1440 Scarth Street, Regina)...

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World Wildife Day – March 3, 2014

Posted by on 4. March 2014 in Blog / Journal, Conservation | 2 comments

World Wildife Day – March 3, 2014

March 3, 2014 has been designated the first ever World Wildlife Day by the United Nations. It is an opportunity to celebrate our planet’s incredible variety of animals and plants, and to raise awareness about the need for global conservation of all living creatures on our planet. This day was chosen as the World Wildlife Day as it was on this day the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) was adopted. The Convention plays an important role in ensuring that international trade does not threaten the species’ well being. Here is a small gallery of images showing wild creatures that can be found on the Northern Great Plains. Burrowing owl. Great Sand Hills, Saskatchewan Black-tailed prairie dog, American Prairie Reserve, Montana Northern Showeler, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan American Avocets. Saskatoon,Saskatchewan Western Madowlark. Zortman, Montana Mule deer. Great Sand Hills, Saskatchewan Canada Goose. Sakatoon, Saskatchewan Least Bittern. Saskatoon, Saskatchewan Plains bison grazing. Grasslands National Park, Saskatchewan...

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Greater Sage Grouse emergency protection order takes effect

Posted by on 18. February 2014 in Blog / Journal, Conservation | Comments Off on Greater Sage Grouse emergency protection order takes effect

Greater Sage Grouse emergency protection order takes effect

In December of 2013, the Canadian government announced an emergency order to enhance protection of the critically endangered Greater Sage Grouse .  The order would restrict certain types of industrial activity (like gravel, oil or gas extraction, construction of new roads etc.) during important parts of the Sage Grouse’s life cycle and adopting land use practices in areas near the Sage Grouse habitat that could impact the dwindling populations. The emergency protection order came into effect today. I wrote about the Greater Sage Grouse emergency protection order in a previous blog post.     The emergency protection order will impose restrictions to protect the Sage Grouse habitat on approximately 1,700 square kilometres of provincial and federal Crown lands in Alberta and Saskatchewan. The birds depend on silver sagebrush for food and shelter and share their habitat with many threatened prairie species like burrowing owls and swift fox. The new measures will not affect activities on private land, nor will they restrict grazing of domestic animals on leased provincial and federal Crown lands. An emergency order is a rare conservation measure. It can be issued under Canada’s Species At Risk Act when a species faces “imminent threats to its survival” and existing protection measures are deemed inadequate. Between 1988 and 2006, the Greater Sage Grouse populations in Canada declined by nearly 90 percent. Some estimates show that there might be only 14 males left in Alberta (with the total population of approximately 30 birds) and only 17 males were counted at active breeding grounds in Saskatchewan. The emergency protection order is a last minute measure, brought in attempt to prevent the disappearance of Sage Grouse from Canada....

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Future of native grasslands in doubt – interview with Trevor Herriot

Posted by on 11. February 2014 in Blog / Journal, Conservation, News & Events | Comments Off on Future of native grasslands in doubt – interview with Trevor Herriot

Future of native grasslands in doubt – interview with Trevor Herriot

Radio Canada International has posted an interview with the naturalist and Saskatchewan writer Trevor Herriot about the uncertain future of the native prairie grasslands found on former PFRA community pastures. One of my images of a stallion running through a prairie with sage brush was used as a page opener for the story posted on RCI web site.   During the interview, Trevor spoke eloquently about the state of native prairie in Saskatchewan and all the wildlife that depends on the remaining large tracts of grasslands found on the former Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration (PFRA) community pastures. He also stressed the importance of a well-functioning pasture system for the small and medium-sized ranching operations and communities in rural Saskatchewan.  At the later part of the interview, Trevor advanced the idea of establishing a heritage rangeland on a set of three PFRA pastures in the extreme south-west corner of Saskatchewan. The tree pastures in question; Govenlock, Nashlyn and Battle Creek cover over 840 square kilometres of vast open prairie. This set of community pastures has been recognized by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as an Important Bird Area for it’s significance to local and migrating bird populations. There is also a very important human heritage element at play – the great North American writer and naturalist Wallace Stegner’s family  homestead was located within the Battle Creek PFRA pasture. One of (many) Wallace Stegner’s legacies is a 2400 word letter that he wrote shortly after returning from a visit to southern Saskatchewan where he worked on the Wolf Willow, a childhood autobiography and a breathtaking account of life on the unbroken prairie of southwest Saskatchewan. The Wilderness Letter as it is now known, had an enormous influence in the movement to pass The Wilderness Act of 1964, a federal legislation that created the legal definition of wilderness in the USA. The Act created a formal mechanism to designate and protect millions of acres of wilderness on federal land in the USA. Unfortunately for Canadians, a similar legislation does not exist in our country. You can listen to the full 10 minute interview by clicking on the “Listen” button at the Radio Canada International web site. About the image: it was getting dark late in the day so I set the sensitivity to ISO 640, to alow for a slightly faster shutter speed. I panned the camera and followed the movement of the horse; that is why the sagebrush is slightly blurred. I selectively sharpened the horse a bit, to make it stand out from the surrounding...

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Calgary Zoo to begin a captive breeding program for Greater Sage Grouse

Posted by on 26. January 2014 in Blog / Journal, Conservation, News & Events | Comments Off on Calgary Zoo to begin a captive breeding program for Greater Sage Grouse

Calgary Zoo to begin a captive breeding program for Greater Sage Grouse

Greater Sage Grouse populations are at critically low numbers in Canada. The estimated population size is less than 100 birds, most of them can be found in the grasslands of southwest Saskatchewan and southeast Alberta. In December of 2013, Environment Canada published the first ever Emergency Order under the Species at Risk Act to protect the Greater Sage Grouse on crown lands (see the related post, A step in the right direction). Later that month, Environment Canada released a proposal for the Amended Recovery Strategy for this species.   There have been previous attempts to supplement the Canadian population by bringing in adult birds from Montana, where the Sage Grouse is more abundant. Now, Calgary Zoo will begin a captive breeding and rearing program for this endangered species, in attempt to help stabilize the population numbers. The program will receive financial help from the Canadian Government in the amount of $2.1 million over the next 10 years. The Government of Alberta allocated a matching contribution of $2.1 million for the same program. The Calgary Zoo has had previous experience contributing to the recovery strategies for endangered species in Canada. Over the last few years, the Zoo employees took part in reintroduction and monitoring of Black-footed Ferrets in Grasslands National Park in southern Saskatchewan, captive breeding programs for Whooping Cranes, and many other successful initiatives. Watch a short video about the release of Black-footed Ferrets in Grasslands National Park. Here is a press release from the Environment Canada about the Greater Sage Grouse captive breeding program: Working Together to Protect the Greater Sage-Grouse Government of Canada, Government of Alberta and the Calgary Zoo enter into multi-million dollar partnership for new program January 23, 2014 – Calgary, Alberta Minister Aglukkaq has announced a $2.1 million contribution for the Calgary Zoo’s new captive breeding and rearing program for the Greater Sage-Grouse. The Government of Canada is committed to protecting and preserving our rich biodiversity, as seen in the $25 million/year investment for species at risk in Economic Action Plan 2012. This program is breaking new ground—this will be the first time that Sage-Grouse have been bred and raised in captivity in Canada. This program is the next step in a series of actions the federal and provincial governments are taking to protect and bring back the Greater Sage-Grouse in Canada. On December 4th, the federal government published an Emergency Order to protect the Greater Sage-Grouse across 1700 km2 of crown lands in Alberta and Saskatchewan.  On December 20th the proposed Amended Recovery Strategy for Greater Sage?Grouse was published, which outlines the state of the species, provides information about the species and population objectives, and identifies new critical habitat. Quick Facts: In 2012, there were estimated to be between 93-138 adult birds in Canada. The population has declined by 98 percent since 1988. The Sage-Grouse captive rearing and breeding program will cost a total of just over $5 million over 10 years. The Government of Canada and the Calgary Zoo have been collaborating on endangered species recovery for decades. Quotes: “Our Government’s partnership with the Calgary Zoo in a captive breeding and reintroduction program is an important step to recovering the Greater Sage-Grouse in Canada. Our long-term goal is to establish a stable Sage-Grouse population in Canada through stewardship initiatives and partnerships.” – The Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of the Environment, Minister of the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency and Minister for the Arctic Council “The Government of Alberta is proud to be supporting Sage-Grouse recovery in Alberta by contributing $2.1 million over 10 years towards the Greater Sage-Grouse captive breeding program at the Calgary Zoo. This is an...

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