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Love Nature – Maybe you’ve seen one

Love Nature – Maybe you’ve seen one

Maybe You’ve Seen One? There is an animal that is in the area for the next little bit, it is one of my favourite’s animals. Maybe you’ve seen one?

7 years ago, I moved out of the city and I retired from teaching and moved to Wasaga Beach but most people don’t know one of the main reasons- I saw my 1st owl January 23, 2016, it was a snowy owl! It was amazing over the next couple of weeks I started to photograph and study them. I learnt that adult males are all white, while females and young males have black/brown bars. I noticed that a snowball, might be more than just a snowball. So, I moved here as I wanted to be closer to these magnificent birds, even if just for a few months a year. The fact that I can now go for a drive and see anywhere from 0 to 14 Snowy owls and 0 to 3 species, is absolutely amazing to me.

Sometimes, I don’t see any owls but when I do see an owl, it is breathe taking! It changes a bad day to good, and a good day to a great day. If I see an owl, not on private property, I try to make sure they don’t expel extra energy by spooking them and enjoy. I know how awesome it is to see a wild animal, safely in its natural habitat. So, I want to share that experience with others.

People come on various wildlife tours with me – walking and driving depending on abilities. Since, I can’t guarantee animals as I don’t bait them, we do engaging presentation with an eye training activity with a hope I get to share an experience of seeing the animal of interest.

 Keep enjoying the wildlife.

Jason George

www.jasongeorgephotography.com

 

Bearbells by Leslie Noonan

Fall is my favorite time to hike.  The bugs are gone, the days are general cooler with no humidity, and I love the sound of leaves crunching under my feet.  Of course, I do have to plan my routes with more care to avoid being mistaken for a chubby deer by an enthusiastic hunter.  I wear my orange vest, and my bear bells provide an extra level of noise protection.  Unless the deer around here have bells on their toes!

Autumn is also when I am most likely to spot wildlife.  I have seen very large porcupines, beavers, muskrats, pileated woodpeckers, fishers, bears and of course deer.  I am amazed by the ability of deer to traverse the bush without making a sound while I must snap every twig and overturn every rock with a loud clatter.  With the leaves gone and the underbrush thin, you would assume you can easily see the approach of critters.  At least, that is what I thought until had a close call with a very large male deer with an impressive rack of antlers.  I was hiking through an area of hardwoods with good visibility through the leafless tress.  Out of nowhere this huge deer steps onto the trail no more than five feet ahead of me.  Well I screamed, the deer squealed, the deer peed, and maybe I had a little accident as well.  So much for me being the great outdoors woman, when a large ungulate can sneak up on me in a relatively open area.  In my defence, I had thought deer were brown, but this guy was a grey that blended into the tree trunks, and his silent steps were as stealthy as a ninja.  Once safely home away from the scary deer I learned that their fur turns from brown to grey in the fall.  Deer camouflage!

Last week I was out back of the Wye Marsh.  The days had been unusually warm and sunny and the trails were dry and dusty.  I happened to look down and see such a strange little grey rock….with bright black eyes.  A tiny snapping turtle had run out of energy while crossing this dry area.  After a minute spent looking deeply into each other’s eyes, I deposited the little guy next to the swamp in the direction he had been heading.  After a few minutes he slowly moved into the reeds and mud.  Snapping turtles don’t lay eggs until they are 17-19 years old, and often live to seventy years in the wild.  The eggs hatch in the fall and the babies will instinctively move towards water.  If you feel you must help a turtle, such as one crossing a road, always move it in the direction it was going. Also, don’t move a turtle to an area you think might be better for it, as some turtles prefer to remain in a very small home area.  Enjoy the autumn hiking season and all the wildlife it offers.

 

 

Proposed Changes to the Ontario Wetland Evaluation System a Dramatic Shift Away From Historic Wetland Protection

By Doug Hevenor, CAO of the Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority

In Ontario, wetlands are very important for flood control, water filtering, groundwater recharge and discharge. When there is a lot of rain or snowmelt, wetlands absorb and slow floodwaters, helping to alleviate property damage and can even save lives. In the face of climate change, these wetlands are ever more important as we experience more extreme storm events.

Wetlands are diverse and delicate ecosystems that provide important habitats for plants and animals. These include many familiar species, such as great blue herons, turtles, muskrats and beaver.

Currently, Ontario’s wetlands are scored for importance through the Ontario Wetland Evaluation System. Wetlands that receive a higher score are considered provincially significant wetlands and are heavily protected. In the Nottawasaga Watershed, these include the Minesing Wetlands, Osprey Wetlands, Wasaga Beach Wetland Complex, Midhurst Wetland Complex and Silver Creek Wetlands and Copeland-Craighurst-Guthrie Complex.

On October 25, 2022, the Ontario government proposed changes to the Ontario Wetland Evaluation System in support of Bill 23, the More Homes Built Faster Act.

In the proposed changes, some scoring criteria have been removed from the Ontario Wetland Evaluation System, yet wetlands must still meet the same score to be considered provincially significant. This makes it much harder for wetlands to reach provincially significant wetland status, meaning that many of the wetlands have the potential to be slated for development.

Many wetlands in Ontario are grouped together in complexes – this includes wetlands big and small that are less than 750 metres apart. This is important for fish and wildlife that live in wetlands, as the entire complex makes up their habitat.

The proposed legislation changes will no longer allow wetlands to be grouped together, treating each wetland as its own entity. Smaller wetlands will most likely not meet the criteria to be provincially significant, and may be open for development.

It is important for wetland evaluations to be reviewed by arm’s length agencies with an objective view. The proposed legislation is not allowing the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry or conservation authorities to review wetland evaluations, leaving this responsibility to municipalities.

If municipalities are responsible for development, as well as preserving natural heritage like wetlands, where do they find the balance? Many wetlands cross municipal boundaries. How will the different municipalities determine the level of importance for the wetland?

Ontario has legislated habitat protection laws for good reason. Since the 1970s, waterfowl populations have bounced back thanks to wetland protection. Species that did not enjoy the same habitat protection, such as grassland birds, have seen a significant decline within this same time period.

Most turtles in Ontario are endangered or species of special concern, mainly due to habitat loss. Turtles rely on wetlands for food, breeding, and hibernation. By protecting wetlands, they will continue to insects, fish and vegetation to eat, sand to lay their eggs in, and deep pools for hibernation.

Ontario’s wetlands are not only important for local animals – they support migrating birds from the entire Western Hemisphere. Many of our wetlands are resting stops for migrating birds travelling north. By allowing development in our wetlands, migrating birds will have fewer resting stops and more competition for food which will make these long migrations even more challenging than they already are.

It takes generations for wetlands to become viable, sustainable and ecological communities. The removal or damage to wetlands is not easily reversible, and many species may not be able to recover from this loss.

Please join NVCA and other conservation authorities voicing our concerns by commenting on the Environmental Registry of Ontario by November 24, 2022.

 

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