Reduce the Risk: Habitat Saving Ideas
Make natural connections! Habitat fragmentation isolates populations genetically, especially of plants.
Share your Shore with Wildlife! Shorelines developed only for recreation and erosion control often destroy rare beach, dune, cliff and marsh communities.
Protect your Planet. Stop Invading Aliens! Many species which are alien or non-native to Carolinian Canada thrive in our natural areas and crowd out our native plants and animals. Species-at-risk are often the first to disappear when the aliens invade. The alien European Starling, for example, competes for nest holes in trees with the native Red-headed Woodpecker which has declined dramatically in the last three decades. Almost every year we hear of a new species that is spreading rapidly.
Garden with Natives! In wetlands, the most invasive alien plants are Phragmites, Hybrid Cattails and Purple Loosestrife which alter whole ecosystems. Many people continue to plant these aliens in gardens and natural areas.
Keep your Firewood at home! In 2004, over 10,000 ash trees were cut out of the Carolinian life zone in a massive federal effort to halt the invasion of Emerald Ash Borer, an insect which kills ash trees. Something as simple as bringing firewood across the border has helped to spread this devastating pest.
Save an Eagle, Go Organic! Most Canadians are familiar with the story of the contamination of eagles by DDT and the resulting impact on their ability to produce viable eggs. Since DDT has been controlled, the Bald Eagle has since made a comeback and is no longer designated At-Risk. While some of the most toxic chemicals are now banned or controlled, 100s of new ones come on the market every year with unpredictable long-term consequences.
Don't Flush! Sewage and runoff from homes, industry and farms often makes its way into our water cycle with little or no treatment, contaminating sensitive ecosystems with heavy metals, hormones and antibiotics. Abnormalities in wildlife range from delayed sexual maturation to serious birth defects.
Control the Opportunists! Opportunistic wildlife such as the Raccoon thrives in human habitats. Ready food supplies help it survive winters and natural predators have been virtually wiped out of the Carolinian life zone. Raccoon populations are artificially high, likely impacting some turtle species which are experiencing massive egg predation.
Deer or Butterfly? White-tailed Deer populations have exploded across the life zone disrupting entire ecosystems. The loss of the Karner Blue butterfly has been attributed to habitat changes caused by deer and the consequent loss of the butterflies caterpillar food plan, the Lupine.
Re-connect Habitats. Be a Matchmaker! When populations are too far removed from others of their kind they cannot reproduce successfully. Birds may not be able to find mates. Flowers are not pollinated. The Kentucky Coffee-tree is an example of a species where male and female flowers are on different trees. Most of the remaining populations are clones of either males or females with no chance of fertilization. They survive only as clones of either parent.
Be a Wise Consumer! The Passenger Pigeon was over-hunted and the Blue Walleye was over-fished, both to extinction. Several plants including the American Ginseng and Goldenseal are over-collected for medical purposes, and consequently, are highly threatened. Few people realize that often the most serious threat to reptiles is over-collecting. The Wood Turtle may soon become extirpated due to the pet trade.
Be Neighborly! The most serious threat to the Eastern Mole comes from homeowners who dislike the mounds they create in lawns. Save a species by creating gardens where the mole hills are less obvious.
Get to know a snake! Many snakes, including the imperiled but harmless Black Rat, Milk and Eastern Fox Snakes are often killed when found around yards and farms. People may be frightened of snakes or mistake them for rattlesnakes, given the snakes coloration or habit of wriggling their tails against leaf litter in a manner that produces rattling sounds.
Here Kitty, Kitty, Kitty! One of the most serious threats to birds, small mammals, reptiles and amphibians are feral cats. One study in the state of Minnesota showed that up to 20 million birds were killed each year by feral cats. On a North American scale this level of predation could be as much as a billion!
Drive-by Conservation! Thousands of kilometers of roads are another death trap for birds, reptiles, insects and mammals. The greatest threat to one species at risk, the Eastern Loggerhead Shrike, is thought to be cars. This species often hunts for grasshoppers and other insects along road margins. As a perch hunter, it sits on fences and swoops low across roads to catch its prey in road side swales.
Eco-gift a Habitat! Landowners may now be able to receive significant income tax savings by protecting wild habitat through a conservation easement or land donation. Land trusts are developing all across the zone building win-win partnerships with landowners. reference
Farming is Conservation! What works for wildlife can be good for the farm. Check out Best Management Practices and Environmental Farm Plans for great ideas for integrating wildlife habitat into the farming landscape.
Eye Spy! You can get involved in a variety of monitoring programs from Back Yard Bird Watching to Adopt-a-Pond.
Carolinian Canada Coalition 2009
Content based on 2004 guide by Michelle Kanter, Dave Martin, Veronique LeHouk, and Jane Bowles
Many Thanks to Photographers who donated their work for this project:
Jane Bowles, Allen Woodliffe, John Ambrose, Scott Gillingwater, Ben Porchuk, Rob Willson, Mathis Nativik, Shawn Staton, David Mihilik, Joe Milner, George Brackx, Kevin Railsback, Hamilton Conservation Authority, Essex Region Conservation Authority, Margaret Pickles, Leora Berman, Donald Kirk, Upper Thames River Conservation Authority, Larry Lamb, Peggy Hurst, Michelle Kanter, Gregory Peck, Jim Flynn and Rick Battson.
Thanks also to expert support from Dan Kraus, Mike Nelson and Paul Smith.
Assistance for this project was provided by the Ministry of Natural Resources.