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Nov
10
2020 Annual Appeal

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Dear friend and supporter of Nature Saskatchewan,


It goes without saying that 2020 has been a challenging year. The Covid-19 pandemic has changed much of our day to day lives and has increased anxiety and worry around the globe. However, throughout this pandemic one thing has remained a constant in our lives, the need for nature. Being in nature provides us with a relief from anxiety and supports mental health, it offers us a place to play and exercise safely, it boosts our immune system and allows our children the space they need to enjoy and explore.


In 2020, Nature Saskatchewan has adapted to a new way of doing things. Much of our programming has been held online, such as our annual celebration of International Migratory Bird Day or bringing the Last Mountain Bird Observatory to the public through videos posted toour YouTube channel. Through partnerships with like-minded local groups like SaskOutdoors, we have had success sharing the joy of nature safely with home-school children through the Get Outside Kids Club. While the delivery may be different the message remains loud and clear, nature needs us but more importantly humanity needs nature.


For years, Nature Saskatchewan’s conservation efforts have focused on the importance of protecting the natural world so Saskatchewan’s wildlife and precious ecosystems have a fighting chance at survival. An ecosystem can only be healthy when the web of species is connected and playing their part. While we look for different ways to connect to each other, it is also important for our health, both physical and mental, to connect to nature.


Nature Saskatchewan remains a strong voice for nature and conservation in Saskatchewan. In February, we once again attended Nature on the Hill in Ottawa along with 49 other organizations from across Canada. Together, over 60 MP’s from all parties were asked to support the commitments for expanding protected areas and finding solutions to the issues that threaten our habitats and wildlife. We are proud to have a voice in this large Nature Network and to be one of the groups speaking for Saskatchewan.


Early this fall, we finally heard the long awaited announcement that the transfer of three former PFRA pastures in southwest Saskatchewan (Govenlock, Nashlyn and Battle Creek) from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada to Environment and Climate Change Canada had been completed. This occurred with a corresponding swap of any provincial lands on these pastures with federal lands on the other former PFRA pastures. A designation to a National Wildlife Area is expected within a few years.


In 2020 we received a bequest of land near Leader, adding to our nature sanctuaries. A local sanctuary steward has been found to keep an eye on the property for us and a management plan to protect this piece of land into the future will be developed next year.


Please take the time to renew your membership for 2020 if you have not already done so. Nature Saskatchewan memberships now run on the calendar year and you have the option of receiving a print or electronic copy of the Blue Jay. If you are a print subscriber, you will automatically be given access to the online version as well. Retaining our existing members and attracting new members is extremely important. We ask that you help us spread the word and consider giving a Nature Saskatchewan membership as a gift to someone you care about, following us on our social media channels and by signing up to receive our electronic newsletter.


We thank you for your continued support and ask that you consider helping in the form of a donation. Donations can be directed to any program you choose, or can be split amongst the various programs that are meaningful to you. A donation to Nature Saskatchewan as a whole will allow funds to be used where they are the most needed, or simply purchasing a membership for yourself or a loved one will help us to remain strong and keep our voice heard. You may prefer to give a little each month by joining our Nature Savings Plan. Contributors to the Nature Savings Plan have the option of contributing directly through their bank or via a monthly credit card payment. Each and every way you choose to help will have a positive effect on the work we do. Thank you for being a part of a team working to conserve Saskatchewan’s natural landscapes and all that call it home.


Please take a moment now to decide how you will help.

 

Yours in conservation,

Ed Rodger
President, Nature Saskatchewan

Oct
26
Canadian Bat Box Project

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By: Karen Vanderwolf

If you have a bat box I want to know about it!

Bats in Canada face multiple threats from habitat loss and disease. As towns and cities expand, the large old trees that bats call home are being cleared, and bats are losing their roosts. Bats need a warm and secure place to roost during the day in the summer. A bat box is a simple and effective way to provide additional roosting habitat for bats, but little is known about bat box use in Canada. This especially important as three bat species in Canada are listed as endangered: little brown bats, northern long-eared bats, and tricolored bats. Bats now face additional persecution due to worries about COVID-19, but bats in North America do not have the virus that causes COVID-19 https://cwf-fcf.org/en/about-cwf/faq/faqs/should-i-be-worried-bats.html?src=blog

 

Which bat species use bat boxes?

Of the 18 bat species that are regularly found in Canada, 13 have been documented using bat boxes, although these data come from studies farther south in the United States. Current recommendations on bat box design are based on research in the United States, especially Texas, and in Europe. Since the box design bats prefer varies by region and species, more information on bat boxes in Canada is urgently needed. There is very little previous research about which bat species prefer which bat box designs in Canada. Little brown bats are known to use bat boxes throughout Canada, big brown bats use boxes in some parts of Canada, and Yuma bats use boxes in British Columbia.

 

How you can help!

Our research seeks to determine which bat species use bat boxes across Canada, what box designs are preferred by bats, and which temperatures bats prefer for roosting in our northern climate. To accomplish this, we need to know where bat boxes are located in Canada, the physical characteristics of the boxes, and whether they are being used by bats! Participants will be sent temperature loggers to install in their box and supplies to collect guano (bat poop), as bat species can be identified from guano.

If you have a bat box and would like to participate in this study, please fill out this online multiple-choice survey with questions about your bat box.

This project is in partnership with the Wildlife Conservation Society and the Canadian Wildlife Federation https://wcsbats.ca/Our-work-to-save-bats/Batbox-Project/BatBox-Project-Canada-wide

More information about which box designs bats use in Canada will help bat conservation by providing recommendations for improving bat box design and placement in our northern climate.

 

Why install a bat box?

Installing a bat box gives bats an alternative to roosting in your house, and since all bats in Canada eat only insects, you may even notice a decrease in the insect population around your house! Bats eat a variety of insects, including agricultural and forestry pests. You can watch bats swooping around your backyard at dusk catching insets in midair.

 

How do I tell if bats are using my box?

You can tell whether your box is being used by bats by searching for guano underneath your box and watching your box at sunset in June to count bats as they emerge for an evening of eating insects. You can watch an example of bats flying out of bat boxes in Prince Edward Island here. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NqZbyjhC0XI&feature=youtu.be&fbclid=IwAR1qGaCvi6ucbCdgaJkTES2O517H1uzhTbGeqAN6Srf_oLGrYmPH4TPj5L0 You can also shine a light up into the box during the day to see if there are bats inside from May to October in Canada. The boxes will be too cold for bats during the winter.

 

How do I get bats to use my box?

Not all bat boxes will be occupied in the first year after installation. Occupancy depends on many factors, ranging from the period in which it was installed to the fact that bats are very selective and might need a little time to familiarize themselves with your bat box. There are no lures or attractants, such as guano, that can attract bats to a bat box, although larger bat boxes with multiple chambers more commonly attract bats than smaller boxes.

Bat boxes are most successful when attached to houses or poles as opposed to trees. Trees shade the box and can block access to the box entrance. If bats are not using your box after two years, try moving the bat box to a new location.

Like tree hollows, bat boxes need to have temperatures that bats like. Bats like hot temperatures, but even in Canada some bat boxes get too hot during the summer, which can increase bat mortality. Temperatures of over 40˚C in bat boxes is too hot, and temperatures in some bat boxes in Canada have been recorded over 50˚C!

Our research group measures the temperature inside bat boxes using temperature loggers that can take a reading every hour over the whole summer. One way to ensure that bats can choose their preferred roosting temperature is to install multiple bat boxes as they will vary in temperature depending on how much direct sunlight they receive.

 

This bat box on the side of a house in New Brunswick houses little brown bats and their pups during the summer. Photo by Karen Vanderwolf

 

 

Little brown bats in a bat box in the Maritimes. Photo by Jordi Segers.

 

Sep
24
Encouraging Young Conservationists

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Hello everyone, my name is Emily Dornstauder. Ever since I was a little, the banding station has been a place close to my heart. For me, it is not just releasing, identifying, extracting, and banding, it is so much more. It’s the staff and volunteers. It’s the random things that are said on the banding trail. It’s my summer home; my happy place. I started attending LMBO with my grandparents when we first got our cottage in 2006. I would beg my grandparents and parents to take my sister and I every chance we could so we could “go let go the birdies.” When I was 7 years old one of the banders, Ross Dickson, told me that when I was 14 I could start volunteering and even banding/extracting the birds. And sure enough in the summer of 2017, I had extracted my first bird and started scribing for Jordan and Ryan. I had become a volunteer. I cannot begin to tell you how happy I was. Saying I was over the moon, would have been an understatement!  In 2018, I banded my first bird and created the LMBO version of, the hit board game, CLUE. In 2019, I continued extracting, banding, and building strong relationships with the banders. In August of 2020, I was lucky to be an intern at LMBO, because of coronavirus. My internship consisted of pretty much the same things that I have been doing in previous years, along with some new tasks and of course the COVID 19 protocol. It was so weird not having the public come and join Jordan and me on net runs, however, it allowed me to learn a lot more in terms of small details about each bird I was either unsure about or needed a second opinion on. I was able to do more 1 on 1 learning/training and asking my own questions rather than answering those of the public. I hope that next year we can get mostly back to normal. Nevertheless, we are all taking each day as it comes and hoping for the best in these strange times. Thank you for reading a little bit about me and my journey at LMBO! I highly recommend coming to check us out when it is safe to do so! Stay safe everyone and happy birding!

 

- Emily Dornstauder

 

 

Photo credit: Alan R. Smith (right) with Emily (centre) and Ava (left) Dornstauder; pictures drawn by Emily and Ava for the banding station at LMBO

 

Aug
18
August is the Month for Sandy Dune Specialists in Saskatchewan!

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While thinking of the prairies might bring to mind rolling grasslands and big blue skies, parts of southern Saskatchewan are also much sandier than many people realize. As the ice sheets retreated 10,000 years ago and remnant glaciers melted, the resulting glacial lakes and water channels gathered sediment to form ancient sand bars that would eventually form the many sand hills of Saskatchewan. This includes the well known Great Sand Hills and Elbow Sand Hills, massive areas with wide open active dunes, but also lesser known areas right across the southern portion of the province, including the Mortlach, Dundurn, Webb, and Burstall Sand Hill areas.

These sandy habitats support unique ecosystems. They are home to sand dune specialist species found nowhere else, including many of the province’s rare plants. In the month of August two of these rare plant species, Smooth Goosefoot and Hairy Prairie-clover, are in bloom, making it the perfect time to get out and search for them!

 

Smooth Goosefoot is a small annual plant with a yellowish green colour that is federally listed as a threatened species. Its leaves are fleshy and smooth with a visible central vein. The flowers resemble small balls and grow in dense clusters that are sparsely spaces along the branching stems. Smooth Goosefoot likes to grow at the edges of dunes and blowouts and along slopes of stabilized sand hills. It can be found in 11 Saskatchewan sand hill complexes mostly in the southwest Great Sand Hills area, but also within the Mortlach, Elbow, and Dundurn Sand Hills.

 

Hairy Prairie-clover is a somewhat woody perennial species that is listed as special concern in Canada. It looks similar to the much more common Purple Prairie-clover, but as its name suggests the entire plant is covered in soft dense hairs. Purple flowers grow in long spikes with the lower, older flowers opening first. “The whole plant is soft to the touch, including when the seeds start to develop,” explains Emily Putz, Habitat Stewardship Coordinator with Nature Saskatchewan. “A good way to tell it apart from some of its look-a-likes is to run a stem through your hands, none of the other prairie clover species are nearly as hairy.” Hairy Prairie-clover grows in sand blowouts and partially stabilized sites, found within the Mortlach and Dundurn Sand Hills.

 

Just like many of the province's rare plants, these species are threatened by a number of factors contributing to habitat loss. “Stabilization of dune habitat is a big challenge for specialist species,” explains Putz, “lack of grazing, invasion of non-native species such as leafy spurge, and encroachment of woody shrubs and trees can all contribute, making it hard for these plants to find the kind of habitat they need.” Other threats such as sand and gravel extraction, oil and gas activity, and changes to hydrological processes due to climate change also lead to declines.

If you or someone you know own land with sandy soils in the areas mentioned, we encourage you to take a look in your pasture this month and report any sightings to Nature Saskatchewan’s Rare Plant Rescue Program. New sightings contribute to a better understanding of these species’ distributions in the province and can help inform recovery actions in the future.

 

Since 2002 Nature Saskatchewan’s Rare Plant Rescue program has worked with landowners to raise awareness about Saskatchewan’s rare plants, document and monitor rare plant occurrences, and conserve rare plant habitat in Saskatchewan. If you think you’ve seen these species or have any questions on the Rare Plant Rescue program, please let us know by calling our toll-free Hoot Line at 1-800-667-HOOT (4668) or by emailing rpr@naturesask.ca. Personal and sighting information is never shared without permission.

 

Photo credit: Candace Neufeld

 

Aug
11
Let’s Get Ready To Celebrate Monarchs Together On August 22nd!

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The last couple weeks has seen a surge in Monarch butterfly and caterpillar (larvae) sightings. With the up-coming national Flight of the Monarch Day on August 22, now is the perfect time to sharpen your Monarch identification skills and capture some photos and observations to share in the celebration!

 “Follow us on social media to join in the celebration on August 22nd” says Rebecca Magnus, Habitat Stewardship Coordinator with Nature Saskatchewan. “There will be something for everyone to participate  in the virtual celebration, and participants can even win prizes!” explains Magnus. “You can start now by getting out and exploring your NatureHood to see if you can spot and photograph Monarch butterflies and caterpillars”.

Monarch butterflies are identifiable by their bright orange colouring with black veins throughout their wings, along with white spots on their black body and the outside edges of their wings. “Watch out for look-a-likes such as the Viceroy,” explains Magnus. “Viceroys look very similar but have an extra stripe on their hind wings that cross their veins.” The Monarch caterpillars have distinct white, yellow and black stripes with black tentacles on both ends. Magnus adds “you will see these caterpillars nearly exclusively on milkweed plants”.

Monarchs are a species at risk throughout their range with Saskatchewan being at the northern extent of their range. Magnus says “it takes between three and four generations for Monarchs to get from their over-wintering grounds, in Mexico, to Saskatchewan.” She adds “the generation emerging now will live the longest, making the full journey south back to Mexico to overwinter, so it is extra important that we help conserve the habitat for this incredibly important generation of Monarchs.” Nature Saskatchewan runs the voluntary Stewards of Saskatchewan program that works with communities and landowners to conserve Monarch habitat and help monitor the population each year.

If you see a Monarch in Saskatchewan, or would like more information about the national Flight of the Monarch Day on August 22nd or the Stewards of Saskatchewan program, call Nature Saskatchewan’s toll-free line at 1-800-667-HOOT (4668), text (306)780-9832 or email us at outreach@naturesask.ca. Feel free to share photos, we love to see them!

Let’s Get Ready To Celebrate Monarchs Together On August 22nd!

 

Photo credit: M. Ranalli

 

Aug
4
For the young Burrowing Owls, it’s now time to leave the nest!

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Regina, SK – August 4, 2020 – The beginning of August marks the end of an important milestone in the life cycle of a Burrowing Owl and the beginning of another. Young Burrowing Owls are now starting to leave the nest and forage for themselves after weeks of being fed by their parents. The young owls are practicing their hunting and flying skills and venturing out on their own to other burrows nearby. They are a bit like teenagers now and are becoming more independent as they begin to prepare for their fall migration to southern Texas and Mexico. For people travelling in rural Saskatchewan, this is an especially good time to spot Burrowing Owls. However, it can also be a dangerous time for inexperienced young Burrowing Owls. Owls will often forage in roadside ditches, looking for insects and rodents. “At dusk the road surface tends to be warmer than the surrounding area, attracting many small insects and rodents,” explains Kaytlyn Burrows, Habitat Stewardship Coordinator with Nature Saskatchewan, “as a result, young owls are also attracted to the road and ditch when they begin searching for prey.

 

Every year, young Burrowing Owls are injured or killed by vehicle collisions while they forage along the road. The Burrowing Owl population has been steadily declining, making the survival of each owl critical for the long term growth of the population. “Motorists can reduce the risk of owl-vehicle collisions by slowing down and being cautious for owls foraging on roads and in ditches”, says Burrows. Slowing down will also increase your chances of spotting this endangered bird!

 

Burrowing Owls are about 9 inches tall, with mottled brown and white feathers, bushy white ‘eyebrows’, and long featherless legs. They are often found nesting in native or tame pastures that have been well grazed. Burrowing Owls nest in abandoned burrows excavated by badgers, ground squirrels (gophers), or other burrowing mammals, and are often seen standing on or next to their burrow, sitting on nearby fence posts, or foraging in roadside ditches.

 

Since 1987 Nature Saskatchewan’s Operation Burrowing Owl has worked with landowners to conserve and enhance Burrowing Owl habitat in Saskatchewan. In addition, the program relies on the participation of landowners to help monitor the Burrowing Owl population. Currently, there are over 350 participating landowners across Saskatchewan. If you spot a Burrowing Owl, please let us know by calling our toll-free Hoot Line at 1-800-667-HOOT (4668) or by email at obo@naturesask.ca. Personal and sighting information is never shared without permission.

Photo credit: James Villeneuve

Jul
13
Who’s That Shrieking in My Back Yard? The Shrikes have Hatched!

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Regina, SK – July 9, 2020 – We all know that hungry babies are insistent, but these babies sure do make a lot of noise! Loggerhead Shrikes (a.k.a Butcherbirds) have particularly noisy little ones, and they just might startle you if you’re not ready for them. The little masked bandits will steal away your quiet lazy afternoon, and have you looking around for the culprit!

These migratory songbirds are a threatened species and Saskatchewan is an important part of their breeding range. They return to the Canadian prairies each spring from their wintering grounds in southern Texas and Mexico; and right now, their chicks are hatching - noisily!

“Now is the best time to see the adult Loggerhead Shrikes because they are constantly on the search for food, to feed their ravenous nestlings. While some chicks are in the nest growing feathers and muscle in preparation for flight, others have jumped ship and are clumsily following their parents out on hunting expeditions”, explains Shirley Bartz, Habitat Stewardship Coordinator with Nature Saskatchewan. “The adults’ hunting strategies include perching high on a twig, hovering above a field and diving onto prey, or walking on the ground while flashing their white wing patches to startle prey into movement”.

The shrikes provide natural pest control as their diet consists largely of grasshoppers and other insects. They also eat mice, voles, frogs, small birds, and even snakes! Shrikes will sometimes take prey larger than they are. However, with their little songbird feet, they are unable to grip their prey and tear pieces off like a hawk would. To get around this, shrikes impale their prey on thorns or barbed-wire, and then use their hooked beak to tear off edible bits. “This is how they got the name Butcherbird,” says Shirley, “because they hang their meat like your neighbourhood butcher.”

Loggerhead Shrikes are slightly smaller than a robin, with a white breast and belly, a grey back, and contrasting white markings on their black wings and tail. They also have a distinctive black eye “mask” and a black hooked beak. Adults Loggerhead Shrikes have a song composed of short bubbling trills, as well as a variety of rasps and clacks. When alarmed Shrikes give a distinctive high pitch shriek.

Nature Saskatchewan delivers a voluntary stewardship program called Shrubs for Shrikes that works with rural landowners to conserve this species at risk. They are asking anyone who sees a Loggerhead Shrike, or impaled prey, to call their toll free line at 1-800-667-4668 to help them monitor the population. “Personal information is never shared without permission”, adds Shirley.

- 30-

 

For further information, please contact Nature Saskatchewan:

Shirley Bartz (306) 780-9832, email outreach@naturesask.ca
Habitat Stewardship Coordinator           

           

Melissa Ranalli (306) 780-9270, email mranalli@naturesask.ca
Species at Risk Manager

 

 

Photo credit: George Tosh

 

Jun
9
Back to the Beaches with Our Breeding Piping Plovers!

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Regina, SK – June 8, 2020 – At long last our provincial parks and lake side campsites have opened throughout the province, and many of us can’t wait to head to the beach! While you’re out there taking in the summer sun, please remember to keep an eye out for other families who are out for a stroll – Piping Plover chicks and their parents may be wandering the shoreline with you!

 

“As we return to our favourite beaches, it’s a great time to see Piping Plovers! This endangered species has some of its highest numbers of breeding pairs in Saskatchewan. Mid-June is a time to be watchful as late nesters may still be incubating eggs or have young chicks toddling along the water’s edge, making them vulnerable to trampling”, explains Shirley Bartz, Habitat Stewardship Coordinator with Nature Saskatchewan.

 

“Piping Plovers’ best defense is camouflage. Nests are just a shallow depression lined with small stones, eggs look like speckled rocks, and chicks blend in with the beach sand until we see them run. Although chicks can walk and run within hours of hatching, they are not able to fly for the first couple of weeks out of the nest,” adds Shirley. “So, to give Piping Plovers the best chance possible, we are asking beachgoers and anglers to keep watch around their feet and along shorelines, like those at Lake Diefenbaker.”

 

Piping Plovers are a small shorebird identified by their distinct markings – a black band on their forehead and a single black band around their neck. They also have a bright white belly, grey-brown backs, orange legs, and an orange beak with a black tip. Their look-a-like cousin is the Killdeer, which is larger, browner in colour, and has two black bands around their neck instead of one. “Like the Killdeer, Piping Plovers have a broken wing display around their nests: they pretend to be injured to draw potential predators (e.g., you!) away from their nest. But, it is all an act, and the bird will fly back to its chicks once it has lured you far enough away”, says Shirley.

 

Between now and early August, Piping Plovers will be eating as much as possible in an attempt to build up body fat to fuel their 3,500 km flight back to the Gulf of Mexico where they spend the winter. “Since Saskatchewan has the highest numbers of breeding Piping Plovers in Canada, we feel a great responsibility to give these endangered shorebirds the best chance possible for breeding success before their long journey south,” says Shirley.

 

Nature Saskatchewan works with landowners and the public to monitor and conserve suitable shorelines. If you see a Piping Plover please call our toll-free Hoot Line at: 1-800-667-HOOT (4668) or email outreach@naturesask.ca, 1-800-667-HOOT (4668). “As residents of Saskatchewan, we can all work together to help this amazing species survive and thrive.”

 

Personal and sighting information is never shared without permission.

Mar
19
Temporary Office Closure

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In light of Covid-19 and the recent protective measures put in place by the Government of Saskatchewan and for the safety and health of our staff and their families, our office is closed until further notice. We will be working remotely and will be accessible by email. We will be re-evaluating on an ongoing basis. You can find a staff listing here in order to best direct your email.

For any urgent questions or concerns, please e-mail info@naturesask.ca, follow us on Facebook, Instagram and visit our website at www.naturesask.ca for further information and updates concerning events and office availability going forward. Please note that events and gatherings have been cancelled across the province for the near future.

Thank you for your understanding. We encourage you to continue to enjoy nature on your own or with members of your household. Please remember the importance of social distancing while being out in nature. Take this time to slow down and appreciate the calm that nature can provide. 

*If you are needing information regarding sick or injured wildlife, please contact one of our wildlife rehabilitation groups in the province; Living Sky Wildlife in Saskatoon region and Salthaven West in the Regina region.*

Mar
13
Saskatchewan Needs a Wetland Conservation Policy We Can Celebrate

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On February 2, 2020 people all around the globe celebrated World Wetlands Day, a day where we recognize and celebrate the many benefits that wetlands provide. This year’s theme was “Wetland Biodiversity Matters: Life thrives in wetlands”.

In Saskatchewan, we’ve lost, and continue to lose, many of our wetlands and the benefits they afford. Wetlands positively impact people from all walks of life by providing clean water, flood and drought protection, and recreation opportunities. When wetlands are drained, these ecological goods and services are lost.

In late 2019, the Saskatchewan Water Security Agency (WSA) began consulting stakeholders on a new Wetland Conservation Policy for agricultural land that would allow drainage to occur, but with limits designed to ensure preservation of wetland benefits. This policy has the power to reduce the effects of wetland loss and protect wetland benefits, while demonstrating that the agriculture industry is committed to increased sustainability. It falls short.

The biggest deficiency of WSA’s policy is the provision allowing landowners to drain smaller wetlands in exchange for implementing alternate conservation measures, such as planting winter cereals or protecting other natural areas. While conserving other habitat types is well-intentioned, wetlands provide a unique suite of values that are quite simply not met by conserving any other habitats. This would be like swapping out your fridge for your stove in your kitchen. They both look great but perform completely different tasks. The tasks and services provided by wetlands are just not met by other habitats to the same degree.

Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC) believes the Saskatchewan government should ensure all developments that result in the loss of wetlands follow a true mitigation sequence: avoid, reduce, and compensate. Avoid harm to wetlands where possible, reduce impacts to wetlands if avoidance cannot be achieved, and finally, as a last resort, compensate for loss of wetlands. Compensation must include restoration of all features being lost. This is standard practice for other industrial development in Saskatchewan and much of Canada. Replace wetlands with wetlands. It only makes sense and is most fair to those other industries that are already mitigating wetland loss for the benefit of Saskatchewan residents.

WSA’s Wetland Conservation Policy will have significant ramifications. If done correctly, a true mitigation policy for the agriculture sector will create a balance between the conservation needs of society and the production needs of agriculture. As a result, communities will experience less downstream flooding, recreational users and cottage owners will enjoy improved water quality, governments will better work toward climate change commitments through carbon storage, and wildlife enthusiasts will be confident that the fish and wildlife habitat they value will be there in perpetuity.

It’s time that Saskatchewan follows the lead of our neighbours in Alberta and Manitoba and develop a more balanced mitigation policy, one that offers protection for municipalities, producers, and society. This type of progressive policy will not only acknowledge the full range of benefits wetlands provide, but also ensure our ag producers are poised to reap the rewards of a more sustainable industry, including increased public trust and better access to world markets.

With anticipation, we look forward to celebrating that type of wetland policy for Saskatchewan on World Wetlands Day 2021.

Brian Hepworth
Manager of Provincial Operations, SK
Ducks Unlimited Canada