This fall, you can support Canada’s bats by going bat-kit crazy with one of the many bat kits we are offering. Each kit is fun and unique. All proceeds will benefit the bat conservation research at the Canadian Wildlife Federation.
Go Bat-Kit Crazy!
Enter the Batty Halloween Contest!
But, there’s more than just Bat Kits! Enter the “Batty Contest” and you could win one of two NEW Echo Meter Touch 2 Pro bat echolocation meters!
It’s so easy! You don’t have to buy anything – just enter your information in the form, read the rules and regulations and agree to the terms and conditions within. Once you click submit, you will be instantly entered into the content.
Of the 19 species of bats in Canada, 11 are listed as endangered wildlife. They may not be able to recover without our help. Visit us at HelpTheBats.ca to find out about how your contribution supports our work. Also, find fun ways to get engaged with downloadable programs for your family, school or community.
There are lots of ways you can be a superhero for Canada’s bats this fall!
As the largest supporter-based conservation charity in Canada, we thought we’d report back to you on some of what we’ve accomplished during the 2018 summer conservation field work season. There were both successes and failures, but all of the work we do helps further our understanding of these species in order to best conserve Canada’s wildlife.
Helping the American Eel
The Canadian Wildlife Federation’s Aquatic Science Team conducted research on the American Eel in the Ottawa River this summer. Eels face many challenges, and their populations have declined dramatically in recent years. Our summer research included:
Determining downstream migratory routes the eels take while passing the Chaudière Falls Generating Station by placing 40 acoustic receivers in the water upstream and downstream of the falls. This helped target large eels that are ready to make their downstream journey back to their breeding grounds in the Sargasso Sea.
Counting their numbers to determine how many of these at-risk species there are in the area. We did this two ways:
Trap netting, where we caught over 3,600 fish and identified 22 different species (sadly, we only found one eel).
Night time boat electrofishing which temporarily stuns the fish. It may sound extreme but they were not hurt and it really is critical that we learn how many eel remain as this species is dwindling quickly. This research provided more insight into how we can protect — and ideally restore — the population back to its original numbers.
Learn more about river barriers and how they affect our aquatic species.
Love Your Lake
This summer was busy with Love Your Lake shoreline health assessments. The 2018 summer season brought the program total to 157 lakes and approximately 37,830 shoreline properties! Thanks to our seven regional partners spread across three provinces, the Canadian Wildlife Federation and national partner Watersheds Canada were able to:
Be active on 18 lakes in Ontario, Alberta and Saskatchewan.
Assess the shoreline health of approximately 3,570 waterfront properties.
In early 2019, the shoreline property owners on these lakes will receive a personalized shoreline property report with details on the state of their shoreline and recommended actions for improving the health of their shoreline.
For more information on the joint CWF and Watersheds Canada Love Your Lake program, please visit LoveYourLake.ca
Helping the Bats
The Canadian Wildlife Federation’s bat team worked hard this spring and summer to promote bat conservation. The goal of this program is to ensure the long-term survival of Canada’s at-risk bats. A large portion of our season focused on bats that inhabit anthropogenic structures, like barns or attics.
CWF had the pleasure of teaming up with some wonderful students from the University of Ottawa and Carleton University to promote bat conservation. Our summer research included:
Developing and disseminatingBest Management Practices and Standard Operating Procedures.
Identifing maternity roosts that contain Endangered Little Brown Myotis so we can understand what habitats might need protecting.
Collecting biophysical data of the roosts in order to advise on preferred habitat creation and recovery strategy.
Testing the effectiveness of different bat house designs to determine the best designs for different species and different areas such as urban versus rural.
Promoting bat observations via citizen science, and outreach to our communities across the country.
By getting the word out there and learning the best ways to help these at-risk species, we’re hoping to reduce the amount of times their habitats are destroyed, and of course, reduce the impact habitat destruction has on these mammals. We continue to work to support Through effective messaging, outreach, and management strategies, we hope to reduce the frequency and impacts of habitat destruction and support the health, recovery, and survival of at-risk bats.
The Canadian Wildlife Federation turtle team was very busy this year! Our field work season included:
Conducting surveys for the endangered Blanding’s Turtle. Our goal was to find new locations which included this declining species in order to increase the amount of protected habitat. In so doing, we received permission from many land owners to surveys wetlands on their property and found Blanding’s Turtles in 10 different private and government-owned wetlands.
Surveying roads to find frequent turtle road-kill locations. Identifying these locations can help us push for road mitigation — such as wildlife fencing — in these sections of road. This would protect turtles and other wildlife. This year we found over 500 dead turtles on the roads around the Ottawa area, including over 60 dead Blanding’s Turtles.
Collecting turtle eggs that were laid in at risk locations, such as roadsides. By collecting and incubating the eggs and releasing the hatchlings back at the nearest wetland, we helped to compensate for the number of turtles killed on roads. The eggs were successfully incubated and we released almost 400 Blanding’s and Snapping Turtle hatchlings!
This year, the Canadian Wildlife Federation’s Wildlife Biologist Nathan Clements spent 10 days traversing the Queen Maud Gulf region of Nunavut. His work included:
Banding of Greater White-fronted Geese and Cackling Geese in order to monitor Arctic and sub-Arctic geese and their migrations throughout the continent. More than 2,500 geese were banded, which is slightly above the banding program targets set by the Arctic Goose Joint Venture.
The lead organization, the Arctic Goose Joint Venture (AGJV), works cooperatively with partners to provide a coordinated and cost-effective approach to meeting high priority information needs for the management of northern-nesting geese. The Canadian Wildlife Federation is a supporting partner of the AGJV, along with the Canadian Wildlife Service, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, state and provincial wildlife agencies of all four flyways, and other non-government organizations. This partnership approach is especially valuable for conducting Arctic research where logistics are more costly and where maximum return from available funds is highly desirable.
Helping the Salmon
The Canadian Wildlife Federation, along with Carleton University, Carcross/Tagish First Nation, and the Yukon Energy Corporation, is studying the migration of Chinook Salmon in the furthest reaches of their run near Whitehorse. These fish have travelled nearly 3,000 kilometres from the Bering Sea. They face many challenges during their spawning migration. Compared to historic records, populations have been depleted for decades and we are undertaking research to find out why and what we can do to help. Chinook are the king of the Pacific Salmon, and this is a very special population of the species. We take care to minimize the effects of our research on the individuals that we encounter, and are honoured to work with the local community towards their conservation.
For the past two summer seasons, we have been:
Implanting fish with acoustic transmitters
Tracking their movements as they approach the Whitehorse Hydro Plant, pass the world’s longest fish ladder, and continue to their spawning grounds.
Tagging as many fish as we can. Thus far we have tagged 138 fish. We will know how they fared by mid-September once their spawning run is complete and we retrieve data from our acoustic telemetry array.
To investigate the role of natural habitats on wild pollinators, the Canadian Wildlife Federation initiated a three year study in Norfolk County, Ontario. The goal of the project is to examine the relationship between the diversity and abundance of insect pollinators and three habitat types: forest, hedgerow, and grassy field margins.
Conserving a diversity of beneficial insects, like bees and hoverflies, in intensively cropped systems is important for providing ecosystem services to farmers such as pollination. We believe that natural habitats such as forests and hedgerows likely play a significant conservation role within intensively managed agricultural landscapes.
Summer 2018 was our first field season, where we were:
Collected pollinating insects using specialized traps on 11 farms in Norfolk County, southern Ontario. Each trap collected thousands of insects that then had to be sorted and identified by hand.
Compared the results of hand identified insect samples to results using DNA barcoding. If DNA barcoding gives us similar results to hand identification we will have a fast and efficient way to determine abundance and diversity of pollinators in different types of habitats on agricultural lands. The hope is that we can provide advice to farmers on what types of natural habitats will be good for farming and good for wildlife.
Results of the research will be shared with farmers and governments to inspire sustainable agricultural practices, policies and programs.
Using our knowledge of whale biology and basic principles of collision impacts, we are developing a computer model to predict whether the forces on a whale during a collision with a ship could cause serious harm. The computer model will take into account specific features of Right Whales (e.g. blubber thickness) and of small vessels (e.g. ship weight). This new collision impact prediction tool will provide industry and regulators with the ability to explore how the risk of harm to right whales from small vessel strikes changes depending on the size, speed, and design of the vessel.
Ultimately this work will lead to recommendations on how the risk may be avoided. This requires good science, backed up with real numbers. We will have the opportunity to expand this work in more detail as we better establish the important factors to consider during collisions, and to suggest how the risk may be reduced.
With the financial support from our dedicated donors, the Canadian Wildlife Federation has been able to make leaps and strides in wildlife conservation in Canada. But with increasing habitat loss and a climate that is quickly changing, Canada’s wildlife needs your support more than ever.
Since October, hundreds of dead and sickened sea turtles have been washing ashore on the beaches of Southwest Florida.
The cause? An annually occurring natural phenomenon known as Red Tide.
What is Red Tide?
Red Tide is the result of excessive growth of the algae Karenia brevis. As the name suggests, it often turns the sea a rusty red colour.
So what is it that makes Red Tide so deadly? The red algae produces a chemical that is toxic to marine organisms. This can be fatal when the algae is present in great enough quantities.
This year has been worse than most for the seasonal algal bloom. Most blooms begin in the late fall and dissipate by April. Sadly, this Red Tide is still going strong well into the summer. It is suspected to remain a problem for several months to come.
At-Risk Sea Turtles Dying
Two at-risk sea turtles are most affected by this Red Tide: Loggerhead and Kemp Ridley. Many of the turtles found on beaches have been adults — part of what makes this bloom so devastating to their conservation. Turtles can take between 25 to 30 years to reach maturity, and will lay thousands of eggs over decades. Only about one in 1,000 of these eggs will survive to adulthood. So the death of so many adults has the potential to stunt the recovery of these protected sea turtles for decades to come.
Red Tide isn’t the only type of algal bloom that poses a risk to wildlife. While you won’t see a Red Tide in freshwater, you may have observed scummy, foamy or discoloured water in a pond or lake near you. These unsightly features are also caused by algae blooms.
Freshwater Algal Blooms
Freshwater algae blooms may produce toxins, but can also lead to anoxia (a depletion of oxygen available in the water) when the algae dies and decomposes — killing fish. These blooms can also be harmful to humans, and can irritate the skin and eyes of swimmers or even make you sick.
Caused by Humans
There are some human-caused factors that may in part be responsible for the severity of this year’s Red Tide.
Climate change has been increasing ocean temperatures worldwide, favouring algae growth.
Nutrient pollution is largely the result of human activities, like farming, where fertilizers can contaminate nearby water through run-off. Nutrient pollution increases levels of nitrogen and phosphorus in the water, and provides algae with the food it needs to grow out of control.
We’re hearing a lot about our pollinators these days and the importance of avoiding pesticides, buying organic when feasible and minimizing bare expanses on our properties.
I’m all for some lawn to walk and play on but I also know how important it is to include flower beds, veggie gardens as well as trees and shrubs in your backyard. The larger the property, the more opportunity there is to increase this biodiversity. These plants (and their visitors) can add to your garden’s beauty, too!
Here are some plants that will support a wide variety of pollinators, from our many native bees and butterflies to the efficient Hover Flies as well as beetles, hummingbirds, moths and wasps. (Did you know many of our wasps are very tiny and only use their stingers to paralyze their prey which are often potential pest insect species?)
See which ones might suit your garden and visual appeal. As you look, notice how the different shapes suit different pollinators – for the size or ability to access the pollen and nectar.
Spring is a great time for many of our shrubs like Wild Plum and Apple that sport pretty blooms. Some smell lovely and all are a great food source for those pollinators that emerge at this time and are in need of food.
By the time summer arrives there is an increase of pollinators including more butterflies that are emerging from their dormant state or returning from their overwintering sites (as with Monarch Butterflies). Hummingbirds, too, are now back in many parts of the country although some warmer areas like British Columbia are fortunate to have them pretty much year round!
Some pollinators are still active in the early and late autumn. The food from your flowers can make the difference in how well they survive winter or their migration south.
Did you know that the second largest threat to biodiversity is invasive species?
That’s right after habitat loss.
Non-native species can come from other countries or from right here in Canada. And while some of these non-native species can actually be beneficial, some can be invasive – becoming predators, competitors, parasites, and can even bring diseases to our native wildlife. With few predators they can spread rapidly and can:
Disrupt food webs
Impact species health
Interfere with our recreational activities
Cause major economic damage
Once established, they are difficult to control or eradicate and their impacts are often irreversible.
Let’s all do our part to help prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species and protect our lakes! Read more at LoveYourLake.ca blog.
What can I say… CCC has been one heck of an adventure!
I can’t believe that three months has flown by already. I am now back home in Alberta after completing my work placement at Scales Nature Park out in Ontario.
Scales is a place like no other. During my placement there were unlimited opportunities for growth, skills building, networking, and learning first-hand about conservation. With the unique and dynamic atmosphere of Scales, many days brought new opportunities along with new challenges.
Field Learning At Its Best
Looking back I have to say that I am very proud of myself for taking on all those challenges and completing my stage two placement. From this experience I will be taking away valuable skills and knowledge about wildlife and habitat conservation. Also, I have learned so much about reptiles and amphibians found in Ontario and throughout Canada. Finally, I now have a thorough understanding of conducting fieldwork for species at risk.
Going into my placement I had a basic idea of the type of work they did at Scales. However, it wasn’t until I was actually submersed in the work that I gained an appreciation and understanding of the hard work that goes into ground-level conservation projects. It takes some very dedicated and passionate people to run a conservation initiative, and devote all their time and energy into creating awareness and helping to save species at risk.
I must say it has been a pretty cool opportunity to get to know different biologists, environmentalists, and other people that are passionate about conservation. Until Scales, I didn’t know there were many people out there like me who get super excited about finding a snake or a snail, or enjoyed meandering to look for tiny flowers, insects and birds.
One of my most memorable experiences with Scales was getting to go on a week-long conservation road trip through Southern Ontario to Pelee Island. We were able to take part in different conservation initiatives with various biologists and organizations. Once we got to Pelee Island, which is surrounded by Lake Erie, I was in awe of the landscape and all of the species that were unique to the island.
Quite often I was lulled into thinking that we were by the ocean — the water seemed endless and the waves were constantly coming up onto the beaches. Also, I kept finding shells!
By far my favorite part of the job was learning about the different animals and getting to interact with them. I am also going to miss the adventures that took place, the excitement of all the staff and never knowing what each day of conservation would bring.
After this experience I feel that many new doors have opened. I am excited for the opportunities that will come of it. I definitely was sad to leave my fellow cohorts who were placed with me, as well as all other awesome staff at Scales.
I am happy to be back home in Calgary and look forward to what will unfold for my community project in the third stage of the Canadian Conservation Corps.
Now, many weeks later, our little turtles are hatching quickly. Once all the eggs from a nest are hatched, the young will be released together in the area they were laid — only this time they will be a safe distance from the road!
CWF staff and interns have been in awe of these little wonders. We are proud to be a part of helping these at-risk-species, even if indirectly (watch our live turtle cam feed below!).
CWF’s Role in Freshwater Turtle Conservation
The Canadian Wildlife Federation continues to work with regional partners, community groups, lake associations and individuals to reduce risks to turtles. We continue to carry out on the ground surveys to document at-risk turtle locations and HELP PROTECT their habitat. We have also undertaken an analysis of hotspots where turtles are more susceptible to being hit on the road. Finally, we continue to work with partners to outfit turtles with radio transmitters to track movement, habitat use, nesting sites and overwintering sites.
Turtle Eggs Hatching
All of our eggs hatched! We have released them back into the wild. This video is a recording of a batch of snapping turtles as they worked hard to hatch.
It’s in our wildlife. It’s in our fields. It’s in our food. It’s in our water.
And, it’s toxic.
“For years now, neonicotinoid (neonic) pesticides have been poisoning our pollinators and aquatic insects. There are hundreds of scientific studies that have demonstrated the serious harm of neonics to pollinators. When I was a child, DDT was a serious threat to our wildlife. I am concerned that history is repeating itself.”
~David Browne, Director of Conservation Science,
Canadian Wildlife Federation
The Canadian Wildlife Federation calls for a legislated, national ban on the use of all forms of neonicotinoid pesticides in agriculture, horticulture, turf production and golf courses. Under the ban, emergency use of neonics would be permitted for a limited number of years. However, this would only be under cases of severe pest outbreak and with a prescription from a certified agronomist.
Step 2: Give Farmers Alternatives and Incentives to Use Them
Share knowledge with farmers on alternate pesticides and pest management technologies and techniques – and provide incentives to use these, including crop insurance that protects farmers from crop failure for farmers who choose not to use neonics.
Step 3: Recover Affected Species
Recover species impacted by neonics, including wild bees, hoverflies, other insect pollinators and aquatic insects. Also help species experiencing the indirect effects of neonics due to reduced food availability, such as birds, bats and fish.
Step 4: Encourage Research and Development on Safer Pest Control Technologies
Support the development of pest-specific chemicals (or biological agents) with limited environmental effects – to encourage the development of longer term, directed products.
Step 5: Reform How the Government Protects Our Food Supply
Improve risk assessment methods for pesticides, including oversight and greater transparency in how pesticides are licensed and regulated, to ensure the seriously harmful pesticides are not licensed by the Canadian government. End the licensing of systemic pesticides.
1. Develop pesticides that target particular agricultural pests, and refrain from producing systemic pesticides that are designed to be used prophylactically.
1. Sign the petition to support CWF’s plan to ban neonic pesticides
2. Avoid buying garden seeds and plants treated with neonics, and garden or pet insecticides including neonics
3. Avoid using household and gardening products that contain neonics
What You Can Do
Sign the Petition! Our goal is to garner 100,000 signatures supporting the ban of neonics to the Minister of Health. This would support step one of the plan, moving us towards rehabilitating our environment from this neurotoxic insecticide.
We need to take action. All Canadians must and can be part of the solution: government, farmers, businesses, and consumers.
As Canadians, we can do better. We must do better.
Turtles face many threats, including habitat loss, traffic mortality, and nest predation.
Many predators, such as raccoons and skunks like nothing more than to feed on some freshly laid turtle eggs. While nest predation is a natural threat, in many areas nest predators occur at higher than normal levels and they can eat most of the turtle eggs laid every year. Protecting the eggs helps give turtles a fighting chance and offsets some of the road kill that occurs every year.
One way to protect a turtle nest is through a nest cage. While nest cages can be used to protect some nests in natural areas, those on roadsides cannot be caged, since cages may interfere with traffic and the work of road maintenance crews.
Download Nest Protector How-To
Unfortunately, gravel road shoulders make for attractive nesting locations for turtles. The loose gravel and sand make it easy for turtles to dig their nests, and sunny roadsides provide the necessary warmth the eggs need to hatch. Roadsides can be dangerous though, to both the nesting female, and the hatchlings that may end up on the road.
Another option is to collect the eggs once they have been laid and hatch them in captivity. That is what CWF is doing this year in the Ottawa area. Egg collection does require permits from the provincial government as incorrect incubation can cause the eggs to not develop or hatch.
Collecting turtle eggs is not as easy as it may sound. After a female turtle has laid her eggs, she packs the soil back into the hole and there is often no sign of the nest. The surest way to find a turtle nest is to find the female in the process of laying her eggs. This can involve a lot of searching in the evening, when most turtles are most apt to lay their eggs.
Great care has to be taken not to startle the turtle, or she may abandon her search for a nesting site until another evening. Once the female has finished nesting, we carefully dig up the nest and collect the eggs. After many long nights, the Turtle Team gathered more than 400 eggs from roadside nests!
The eggs are kept in a special reptile egg incubator that maintains a constant temperature. The incubator contains eggs from two species at risk: Blanding’s Turtles and Snapping Turtles.
Blanding’s Turtle eggs are oval, whereas Snapping Turtle eggs are round, like tiny ping-pong balls! Blanding’s Turtle clutches contain about a dozen eggs, whereas Snapping turtle nests contain 30-40 or more eggs. The eggs from each nest are placed in a separate container filled with damp vermiculite, an artificial potting soil mixture.
For most kinds of turtles, the sex of the hatchlings depends on the temperature of the nest. Colder summers will generally produce more male turtle hatchlings, whereas hot weather will lead to more females hatching out. Our incubator is set to a temperature somewhere in the middle to produce a roughly equal mix of male and female hatchlings.
The first eggs of the year were collected in early June, and will hopefully start to hatch in early August. After the eggs hatch, the hatchlings from each nest will be released near the site of their nest and close to water.
Road mortality and habitat destruction are some of the greatest threats facing turtles today. Protecting nests through caging and off-site incubation is an important step we can take to help preserve turtle populations.
We need your help to track down the Giant Lacewing (Polystoechotes punctata).
The Canadian Wildlife Federation and the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) are looking for this elusive species. It is an insect that kind of looks like a cross between a fly and a moth.
The experts at COSEWIC will be assessing its status. We are looking to citizen scientists to report any potential observation of this species to iNaturalist Canada.
iNaturalist is a wildlife observation reporting tool that anyone can use. The free mobile app for Android or iOS is easy to use. Or you can add an observation directly on the website at iNaturalist.ca.
It’s very important that a good photo is submitted along with the observation since experts will need this to confirm the species. Equally important is the location you saw it, which the app will automatically add if your phone’s GPS is turned on.
What, Where and When
The Giant Lacewing was once widespread in Canada and beyond. However, it hasn’t been seen in the eastern parts of North America since the 1950’s. But the experts are optimistic it still exists here, just that it hasn’t been seen or reported. Here’s what to look for:
A mostly black insect that is between 2.5 to and 4 cm centimetres (about 1 to 2.5 inches) long
Mottled wings, which are held tent-like over the insect’s body
Most likely to be found in more remote areas
Attracted to artificial lights, such as light posts, outdoor restrooms and buildings.
Most common time of year to spot one is mid-June through to early August.
Experts from Canada and around the world are using iNaturalist to keep track of where species are found. This is a valuable opportunity for anyone to contribute directly to species conservation decisions — like this assessment of the Giant Lacewing.
Not Just Lacewings
Any observation of wildlife — animals, plants, fungi, molluscs and fish — is a valuable contribution to the knowledge of Canada’s biodiversity. Plus with iNaturalist.ca you can keep track of what you’ve seen and search the map for what others have found. iNaturalist can even help you with identifying what you’ve seen with its instant auto identification feature.