Long Point Environmental Folio, Chapter 10 J.G. Nelson and K.L. Wilcox, Editors, 1996

Mammals of the Long Area


In pre-European times the Long Point area was rich in diversity and numbers of wildlife including many mammals. The impacts of European hunting, clearing, habitat disturbance, and other activities have substantially reduced the mammals, as they have fish and other animal and plant species. Introduction of exotic species from other areas has also contributed to major changes in both plants and animals up to present day. Human pressures on mammals and other wildlife are increasing and pose threats to remaining mammals, some of which are rare or unusual in Ontario and Canada because of their southern or Carolinian affinities.

While a detailed study of mammals was not undertaken as part of the Folio background series some basic information has been gathered in this chapter in response to queries by local people and other interested persons. The chapter has four sections. The first section provides an introduction and brief account of historical records and research. The second presents a list of mammal species recorded in Haldimand-Norfolk. The third describes the distribution of vulnerable, rare, and threatened species recorded at Long Point. The fourth section reports on research being undertaken by the Canadian Wildlife Service (CWS) and the Long Point Bird Observatory (LPBO) on deer populations on the Long Point peninsula, as well as on culling, and monitoring of vegetation change after the cull of browsing deer. Much of the information is based on the Haldimand-Norfolk Natural Areas Inventory (NAI) (Gartshore et al, 1987).

Historical Records

The earliest known written records of mammals in the area are from the 1670 accounts of the priests, Casson and Galinee (Gartshore, 1987). They remarked on the occurrence of Wapiti (Elk), White-tailed Deer (See Table 1 for scientific names), Black Bear, Raccoon, and Beaver in the vicinity of Port Dover. In the 1840's Alexander Pope portrayed local fauna such as Lynx, Snowshoe Hare, and Cinereus Shrew in his paintings (Barrett, 1966 in Gartshore, 1987). Accounts of Black Bear and Timber Wolf from Norfolk County are also present in the recollections of Owen (1898).


Historically, southern Ontario has received very little in the way of intensive mammal studies. In Haldimand-Norfolk, much of the research has been carried out on the Long Point peninsula and in areas on the nearby mainland e.g. Backus Woods, and Spooky Hollow. The first intensive study of mammals was under taken by the Royal Ontario Museum in 1927 (Synder and Logier, 1928). Other mammal studies at Long Point include: studies of Deer Mice (Falls 1953); identifying small mammal prey in owl pellets (Schueler, 1972); investigating social classes of White-tailed Deer (Smith 1976; Bailey 1976); studies of Coyotes and their prey (M. Todd); small mammal trapping studies in Big Creek and Long Point NWAs by the CWS (Bildfell 1980a, 1980b; Robinson, 1979; Soper, 1981; Toms and Planck, 1981; Dewey, 1983); small mammal trapping in Spooky Hollow (Campbell, 1979) and Backus Woods (Gartshore, 1986); studies of Southern Flying Squirrel ecology (M. Stabb, 1986/87); and, the appearance and spread of the Virginia Opossum (Judd, 1982; Duncan, 1985).

Mammal Species in the Long Point Region

Gartshore (1987) provided a list of 46 mammal species that are known to have occurred within the Regional Municipality of Haldimand-Norfolk (Table 1). The majority of the species are common habitat generalists that are abundant throughout southern Ontario. However, the significance of the Long Point Area to mammals within Ontario and Canada is revealed by the number of southern species which are common in the Haldimand-Norfolk Region, but rare to uncommon in Ontario or vulnerable in Canada. These species include: Northern Long-eared Myotis, Southern Flying Squirrel, and Woodland Vole. Other species that are rare in both the Region and Ontario include; Least Shrew, Eastern Pipistrelle, Gray Fox and Badger. This occurrence of rare mammals in a small geographic area underscores the significance of the natural habitats that remain in the Long Point area, especially the large tracts of Carolinian Woodland.

Some of the rarer species on Long Point and in the immediate mainland are discussed in the following sections.

Table 10.1 Some Species in Haldimand-Norfolk and their Status

Common Name Scientific Name (1) Regional Status (2) Provincial Status (3) Canadian Status (4)
Virginia Opossum Didelphis virginiana common, increasing common -
Cinereus or Masked Shrew Sorex cinereus common common -
Smoky Shrew Sorex fumeus common very common -
Northern Short-tailed Shrew Blarina brevicauda very common very common -
Least Shrew Crytotis parva RR historical -
Hairy-tailed Mole Parascalops breweri uncommon common -
Star-nosed Mole Condylura cristata common very rare to rare -
Little Brown Myotis Myotis lucifugus common very common -
Small-footed Bat Myotis leibii unsubstantiated very common -
Northern Long-eared Myotis Myotis septentrionalis common rare -
Silver-haired Bat Lasinycteris noctivagans migrant common -
Eastern Pipistrelle Pipistrellus subflavus RR rare to common -
Big Brown Bat Eptesicus fuscus common very common -
Hoary Bat Lasiurus cinereus uncommon common -
Eastern Cottontail Sylvilagus floridanus common very common -
Snowshoe Hare Lepus americanus extirpated very common -
European Hare Lepus europaeus common, introduced Exotic -
Eastern Chipmunk Tamias striatus common very common -
Woodchuck Marmota monax common very common -
Grey Squirrel Sciurus carolinensis common very common -
Red Squirrel Tamiasciurus hudsonicus common very common -
Southern Flyign Squirrel Glaucomys volans common rare to uncommon (MNR - vul) vul
Beaver Castor canadensis uncommon, increasing very common -
White-footed mouse Peromyscus leucopus common very common -
Prairie Deer Mouse Peromyscus maniculatus bairdit common very common -
Southern Bog Lemming Synaptomys cooperi RR common to very common
Muskrat Ondatra zibethicus common very common -
Woodland Vole microtus pinetorum common rare to common -
Meadow Vole Microtus pennsylanicus abundant very common -
Norway Rat Rattus norveficus introduced, common Exotic -
House Mouse Mus musculus introduced, common Exotic -
Meadow Jumping Mouse Zapus hundonius common very common -
Porcupine Erethizon dorsatum hypothetical very common -
Timber Wolf Canis lupus Extirpated common -
Coyote Canis latrans common, formerly absent very common -
Red Fox Vulpes vulpes common very common -
Grey Fox Urocyon cinereoargenteus RR very rare MNR (vul) vul
Raccoon Procyon lotor common very common -
Black Bear Ursus americanus Extirpated very common -
Ermine Mustela erminea hypothetical very common -
Long-Tailed Weasel Mustela frenata common common to very common -
Mink Mustela vison common very rare to rare -
Badger Taxidea taxus rare very common vul
Striped Skunk Mephitis mephitis common very common -
River Otter Lutra canadensis RR very common -
Lynx Lynx canadensis RR very common
Bobcat Lynx rufus extirpated rare to uncommon/common -
Wapiti (Eastern Elk) Cervus elaphus extinct extirpated (MNR ext.) -

1 Common and scientific names follow Jones et al. (1982) with the exception of the Northern Long-eared Myotis.

2 The status of each species in the region is provided from Gartshore, (1987). A species was designated as "abundant" if over 100 observations of it had been made in the region since 1972, "common" if 25-100 observations had been made, "uncommon" if 5-25 observations had been made, and "regionally rare" (RR) if 1- 5 observations had been made.

3 The status of each species in the province is provided from Sutherland (1994). A species is designated as extremely rare in Ontario, if there has been fewer than 5 occurrences in the province, very rare in Ontario if there were between 5 and 20 occurrences, rare to uncommon, if there were between 20 and 100, common if there were more than 100 occurrences, very common if the species has been demonstratably secure under present conditions, and historical, if the species is only known by historical records within the past 20 years.

4 The status of each species in Canada is provided from Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) (1994).

Least Shrew (Cryptotis parva)

Rare in the Region, Historical in Ontario

The Least Shrew is found throughout the eastern half of the US and south into Mexico. It has the most limited distribution of all shrews in Ontario (Dobbyn, 1994) (Figure 1). In Ontario, specimens have been collected from only two locations: Long Point and Hamilton. At Long Point specimens were collected on several occasions, in 1927 (Snyder, 1927), in 1938 by D.M. Davis (Gartshore, 1987), and in 1941 (Banfield, 1948). Outside of the region, Gartshore (1987) reported that L. Prince collected one near Hamilton in a patch of Phragmites (specimen is housed at the Royal Botanical Gardens). During the 1986 Haldimand-Norfolk Natural Areas Inventory no specimens were caught at Long Point despite a specific search.

Figure 10.1 Distribution of the Least Shrew in Ontario (from Dobbyn, J. 1994).

Eastern Pipistrelle (Pipistrellus subflava)

Rare in the Region, Rare to Uncommon in Ontario

The Eastern Pipistrelle is found throughout the eastern half of the US, north to the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River (Dobbyn, 1994). It has the southernmost distribution of any bat in Ontario (Figure 2). The Eastern Pipistrelle is most commonly found along the north shores of Lakes Ontario and Erie, and from Kingston to Renfrew in the Southeast (Dobbyn, 1994). In Haldimand-Norfolk the only records are three individuals captured during the Natural Areas Inventory in Backus Woods and Spooky Hollow (Gartshore, 1987).

Figure 10.2 Distribution of the Eastern Pipistrelle in Ontario (from Dobbyn, 1994)

Southern Flying Squirrel (Glaucomys volans)

Common in the Region, Rare to Uncommon in Ontario, MNR -Vulnerable, Canadian Status-Vulnerable

Southern Flying Squirrels occupy deciduous forests throughout eastern North America (Dobbyn, 1994). In Ontario, they are most commonly found in the Carolinian Forests north of Lake Erie, but can occasionally be found throughout the rest of southern Ontario, north to Deep River and Parry Sound District (Dobbyn, 1994) (Figure 3). The Southern Flying Squirrel was first documented in the Long Point region by Pope in the mid-1800s (Gartshore, 1987). Landon (1941) (in Gartshore, 1987) indicated that flying squirrels were never plentiful and may have dwindled in the first part of this century as a direct result of the cutting of mature forests. Haldimand-Norfolk is thought to have the largest and most stable population of Southern Flying Squirrels within the Carolinian zone (Gartshore, 1987). Recently, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources designated it a rare species because of its close association with the disappearing Carolinian Forest region.

Figure 10.3 Distribution of the Southern Flying Squirrel in Ontario (from Dobbyn, J. 1994)

Woodland Vole (Microtus pinetorum)

Common in the Region, Rare to Uncommon in Ontario

The Woodland Vole's North American range covers the eastern half of the US, and southwestern Ontario (Dobbyn, 1994). In Ontario, the first Woodland Vole was collected by H. Beck in 1902 (Saunders, 1932 in Gartshore, 1987) (Figure 4). It is now known from Middlesex, Elgin, Wentworth, Halton, Welland and Haldimand-Norfolk (ROM, Jameson, 1943 in Gartshore, 1987). Dobbyn (1994) indicated that the Woodland Vole's distribution in Ontario appears to be closely associated with the mature deciduous forests along Lake Erie where there is loose sandy soil and deep humus suitable for burrowing. In the Long Point area, specimens have been collected from Port Rowan, Nanticoke and Spooky Hollow (ROM, Campbell 1979 in Gartshore, 1987). During the Natural Areas Inventory of Haldimand-Norfolk, Woodland Voles were recorded in most habitats but tended to prefer mesic, mixed or dry deciduous woodlands (Gartshore, 1987).

Figure 10.4 Distribution of the Woodland Vole in Ontario (from Dobbyn, J. 1994)

Gray Fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus)

Rare in the Region, Very Rare in Ontario, MNR -Vulnerable, Vulnerable in Canada

The Gray Fox is a southern mammal found throughout most of the United States (Dobbyn, 1994). In Canada, the Gray Fox range is restricted to southern Ontario and the west Lake Superior area (Dobbyn, 1994) (Figure 5). The Gray Fox occupied southern Ontario during presettlement days as is evidenced by remains found in three Indian village sites (Downing, 1946 in Gartshore, 1987). It is thought to have disappeared shortly after Europeans arrived and did not move into Ontario again until the 1930s (Gartshore, 1987). In the Long Point area there are several records of Gray Foxes around the Grand River marshes area, north of the Waterford Ponds (Conc. Rd VI) and north of Cultus at Concession 8 (Gartshore, 1987).

Figure 10.5 Distribution of the Gray Fox in Ontario (Dobbyn, J. 1994)

Badger (Taxidea taxus)

Very Rare to Rare in Ontario, Vulnerable in Canada

Badgers can be found throughout the western half of the US and parts of the Canadian Prairies (Dobbyn, 1994). It is a mammal of the open grasslands. In Ontario, Badgers are known from the Rainy River area and southwestern Ontario (Gartshore, 1987). Banfield (1974); in Gartshore, (1987) reported 30 substantiated records of Badgers in southern Ontario between 1972 and 1980. These records were from Waterloo and Haldimand-Norfolk Regional Municipalities, and Kent Co., Lambton Co., Middlesex Co. and Grey Co. In Haldimand-Norfolk there are numerous records of badgers, the earliest being in 1934. The Natural Areas Inventory (NAI) (Gartshore et al, 1987) recorded this species twice in Deer Creek Valley in 1986. In Haldimand - Norfolk Badgers occur in rolling sand country in fields and forest.

Figure 10.6 Distribution of the Badger in Ontario (Dobbyn, J. 1994)

Deer and Their Impacts on Long Point

White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus)

The earliest records of explorers at Long Point indicate that White-tailed Deer were present both in the Norfolk area and on the Long Point sand spit (McCullough and Robinson, 1988). Two French missionaries, de Casson and de Galinee, reported shooting deer while camped at the base of the peninsula in 1669 (McCullough and Robinson, 1988). Before 1870, White-tailed Deer were extirpated from Long Point by over- hunting (Snyder, 1931). In 1874, the Long Point Company stocked their land with 15 deer, in 1886 with 4 deer from Minnesota, and with two additional bucks from Rondeau in 1908 (CWS, 1988). Deer were also released on the Anderson property in 1881 (Heffernan 1978 in CWS, 1988).

While no accurate record of the number of stocked deer exists, by 1890 deer had greatly increased in numbers (McCullough and Robinson, 1988). Studies conducted between 1967 and 1988 estimated deer populations between 375 and 550 on Long Point peninsula (Table 2). These estimates represent densities of deer between 17.4 and 25.5 /km2.

Table 10.2 Density of the White-tailed Deer Population on Long Point (McCullough and Robinson, 1988)

Source Year # Deer Density
Bailey (1976) 1967 550 25.5/km squared
Bailey (1976) 1968 539 25.0/km squared
Smith (1976) 1971 400 18.5/km squared
CWS (1985) 1985 375 17.4/kn squared
CWS (1986) 1986 457 22.0/km squared
CWS (1988) 1988 500 22.7/km squared

Plant community studies on Long Point (Heffernan, 1978; Bailey, 1976) showed virtually no regeneration of woody vegetation, likely due to deer overbrowsing. No woody plant growth occurred which was less than 2 m above the ground. In general, most trees were greater than 60 years old, saplings were almost non-existent and the frequency of seedlings was extremely low. The gradual disappearance of woody vegetation is viewed as serious because plant communities stabilize the sand dunes. The continued loss of trees, along with no regeneration and poor growth of existing plants, is considered likely to lead to increased erosion.

During the fall and winter of 1989-1990 and 1990-1991, the Canadian Wildlife Service organized the culling of approximately 500 White-tailed Deer from Long Point. In the fall of 1994, an additional 42 deer were removed. In 1991 a long-term monitoring study was established by the Long Point Bird Observatory in co-operation with the Canadian Wildlife Service to document vegetation and breeding bird communities following the removal of deer. This study involved 150 vegetation plots and was repeated in 1992, 1993, 1994 and 1995 (Bradstreet and Bowles, 1995).

Numbers of tree and shrub stems have increased apparently in response to a reduction in browsing in the five years since deer removal (Figure 7).

Figure 10.7 Number of stems of Wild Red Raspberry counted in four height classes in breeding bird census plots at Long Point in 1991 to 1995 (from Bradstreet and Bowles, 1995)

Figure 10.8 Numbers of stems of Sassafras (Sassafras albidium) counted in four height classes in breeding bird census plots at Long Point in 1991 to 1995 (from Bradstreet and Bowles, 1995)

Most dramatic increases were observed: for: Kalm's St. John's-wort (Hypericum kalmianum) in the early successional plots; Wild Red Raspberry (Rubus idaeus ssp. melanolasium) in the middle successional plots; and, Sassafras (Sassafras albidum) in the late successional plots. Sassafras, a favoured browse species, began to be browsed down again in 1993 and 1994 but has shown recovery since an additional cull in the fall of 1994 (Bradstreet and Bowles, 1995) (Figure 8).


This chapter has provided a brief synopsis of the mammals at Long Point. The Long Point area was rich in wildlife in pre-European times and continues to support a significant and diverse assemblage of species that are uncommon in Ontario and the rest of Canada. This significant assemblage is largely supported by the relatively large tracts of Carolinian forests that remain in this area and underscores the importance of their conservation.

A number of species have flourished since the arrival of Europeans, mostly habitat generalists such as Red Fox, Raccoons, and White-tailed Deer. White-tailed Deer in particular have the potential to expand their populations and their effects on plants and other species and features greatly as has occurred on the Long Point peninsula where predators and other controls no longer exist.

Work Cited

Bailey, J.R. 1976. The Ecology of the White-tailed Deer on Long Point MSc. Thesis, Biology Department, University of Western, London, Ontario.

Banfield, A.W.F. 1974. The Mammals of Canada University of Toronto Press, Toronto, Ontario.

Banfield, A.W.F. 1948. "The Second Record of Little Short-tailed Shrew for Southern Ontario" Canadian Field Naturalists 62:163-164.

Barrett, H.B. 1966. "A Canadian Audubon: William Pope of Port Ryerse" Lotus 6:20-29.

Bildfell, R. 1980a. A Small Mammal Survey of Long Point National Wildlife Area Conducted During Summer of 1980 Unpublished Report. Canadian Wildlife Service, London, Ontario.

Bildfell, R. 1980b. A Small Mammal Survey of Long Point National Wildlife Area Conducted During Summer of 1980 Unpubished Report. Canadian Wildlife Service, London, Ontario.

Bradstreet, M.S.W. and J.M. Bowles. 1995. Monitoring Vegetation After a Reduction in Deer Browsing at Long Point, Lake Erie: 1995 Unpublished Report. Canadian Wildlife Service, Ontario Region, London, Ontario.

Campbell, C.A. 1979. "Survey of Mammals, 1978" The Wood Duck 32: 110.

Dewey, K. 1983. Factors Affecting Muskrat Density in a Section of Big Creek aNational Wildlife Area Unpublished Report. Canadian Wildlife Service, London, Ontario.

Dobbyn, J. 1994. Atlas of the Mammals of Ontario Federation of Naturalists. Don Mills, Ontario.

Downing , S.C. 1946. "The History of Gray Fox in Ontario" Canadian Field-Naturalists 60:45-46.

Duncan, B.W. 1985. "Opossums (Didelphis virginiana) in the Niagara Peninsula Ontario" Field Biologist 38: 5-10.

Falls, J.B. 1953. Activity and Local Distribution of Deer Mice in Relation to Certain Environmental Factors Ph.D. Thesis, Biology Department, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario.

Gartshore, M.E. 1986. A Report on the Small Mammals of the Backus Woods Study Area: The Backus Woods Study Unpublished Report, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. London, Ontario. The Natural Areas Inventory of the Regional Municipality of Haldimand Norfolk Norfolk Field Naturalists. Simcoe, Ontario.

Gartshore, M.E., Sutherland, D.A., and McCracken, J.D. 1987. The Natural Areas Inventory of the Regional Municipality of Haldimand Norfolk. Norfolk Field Naturalists. Simcoe, Ontarioe.

Jameson, E.W. Jr. 1943. "Notes on the Habits and Siphonapterious Parasites of the Mammals of Welland County, Ontario" Journal of Mammalogy 24: 194-197.

Jones. J.K., Dilford, D.C. Carter, C., Genoways, H.H., Hoffman, R.S., and Rice, D.W. 1982. Revised Checklist of North American Mammals North of Mexico, 1982 Occasional Paper. Texas Techical University. 80: 1-22.

Judd, W.W. 1982. "A Female Opossum With Young From Dunnville, Ontario" Ontario Field Biology 36: 39.

Landon, M. 1941. "Changes in the Squirrel Populations of Charlotteville Township, Norfolk County, Ontario, 1898-1940" Canadian Field-Naturalists 55: 102-103.

McCullough, G.B., and Robinson, J., 1988. Overbrowsing of Vegetation by White-Tailed Deer on the Long Point National Wildlife Area Canadian Wildlife Service. London, Ontario.

Owen, E.A. 1898. Pioneer Sketches of Long Point Settlement William Briggs, Toronto: Facsimile (reprint 1972) by Mika Silk Screening Ltd. Bellville, Ontario.

Robinson, J.T. 1979. A Preliminary Small Mammal Survey of the Big Creek Marsh Unpublished Report, Canadian Wildlife Service, London, Ontario.

Saunders, W.E. 1932. "Notes on the Mammals of Ontario" Transactions of the Royal Canadian Institute 18: 271-309.

Schueler, F.W. 1972. Analysis of Owl Pellets Collected in Areas 2, 1972 Long Point Bird Observatory Annual Report, Port Rowan, Ontario. 1972: 21.

Smith, H.S. 1976. Identification of Social Classes by Physical Features and Management Implications for White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virfinianus) MSc. Thesis, Biology Department, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario

Snyder, L.L. and Logier, E.B.S. (eds). 1929. "A Faunal Investigation of Long Point and Vicinity, Norfolk County, Ontario" Transactions of the Royal Canadian Institiute 18: 116-236.

Soper, R. (1981). A Small Mammal Survey of the Interior Ponds, Gravelly Bay Area, Long Point National Wildlife Area Unpublished Report to the Canadian Wildlife Service, London, Ontario.

Toms, I.D. and Planck, J.T. (1981). Mammalian Fauna of Gravelly Bay and Bluff Point Areas of Long Point National Wildlife Area Unpublished Report. Canadian Wildife Service, London, Ontario