Watch for Wildlife on Local Roads this Spring

 

Now that the first turtles are emerging from their winter naps, motorists should start watching for them crossing local roads. That’s the message of a postcard being mailed out this week to all households in Norfolk County by Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) in support of its Long Point Walsingham Forest Priority Place (LPWF) conservation project.

The front of the postcard features a painting by Long Point artist Cindy Presant of a Species at Risk Blanding’s Turtle being carried across a road while a snake, frog and snapping turtle wait their turn. The image of the hands helping the turtle was inspired by a photo of Long Point turtle rescuer John Everett, taken by his wife, Jan.  

“Local photographers and nature lovers have reported seeing turtles much earlier this year so we want to get the message out to watch for wildlife crossing roads to as many people in the community as possible”, said Mandy Karch of the Ontario Road Ecology Group (OREG). “Drivers should also be watching for snakes, and on the first warm rainy spring nights, frogs and salamanders crossing”.

OREG is managing the working group addressing wildlife road mortality issues in the LPWF.  Drivers are encouraged to keep the postcard handy in their vehicles so they can refer to the following tips on safely helping wildlife seen on local roads:


  • Drive carefully in areas with wetlands and forests.

  • Stay safe. Check for on-coming traffic if you see an animal on the road. Never put yourself or other motorists in danger.

  • Let the animal cross on its own if it can do so safely.

  • If moving a turtle, take it in the direction it was headed.

  • Never pick a turtle up by the tail!

  • Don’t pick up adult Snapping Turtles unless you have experience. Use a car mat or stick to help it across.

  • Don’t take the animal somewhere new.

A handy car kit would include work gloves, a high visibility vest, hand sanitizer, pylons and a tote box. 

The postcard also explains how to collect and record data on reptile and amphibian sightings on Norfolk County roads.

Take a picture and report your sighting to the Wildlife on Roads in Ontario iNaturalist project. Your observations will help identify road mortality “hotspots” where action can be taken to mitigate these sites.  

Reducing road mortality of local reptiles and amphibians is one of five priorities identified within the Long Point Walsingham Forest Priority Place. Other priorities include: eliminating invasive species such as Phragmites, restoring and protecting tallgrass prairie habitat, preserving forests and treed swamps, and working with local farmers on managing and maintaining marginal farmland for wildlife habitat.

Long Point Biosphere Reserve involves local schools in Project FeederWatch

Nearly 1,000  youngsters across Norfolk and Haldimand Counties will become junior citizen scientists this winter by joining Project FeederWatch, a Birds Canada research program to help study winter bird populations.

Thanks to extra funding from Nature Canada, the Long Point Biosphere Reserve (LPBR) is distributing FeederWatch kits to 50 elementary school classes in the Grand Erie District School Board. 

“Nature Canada has been supporting our efforts to connect young people with the natural environment through school groups tours for the past four years,” says Cynthia Brink, the LPBR’s Naturehood Outdoor Educator. “COVID-19 restrictions prevented tours last year so we’re grateful for this additional funding to get young people involved in Project FeederWatch.”

The kit includes a window feeder, bird seed, a bird identification poster and other supporting materials and a one-year membership with Birds Canada.  The LPBR was able to supplement the kits with a Junior Nature Journal from Nature Canada for recording observations and a sketch journal provided free of charge by the Bateman Foundation’s Sketch Across Canada project.

Working with their classroom teachers, students will learn to record and sketch their observations in the journal provided. In addition to recording the species of birds that visit the feeder and backyard, the students will make notes on the weather, season, behaviour, colour and songs of the different bird species.   This information will contribute to Birds Canada’s winter bird research.

The students may also try to sketch the birds they observe using drawing lessons provided on the Bateman Foundation’s website. https://batemanfoundation.org/digital-resources/

Karen Hammond of the Doerksen Country Store in Port Rowan was able to get a discount that allowed the LPBR to purchase and distribute 27 more bird feeders to youngsters in the Grand Erie Virtual Academy as well as another 58 for students of the Lloyd S. King Elementary School on the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation whose school remains closed due to COVID 19 protocols.

“Watching and learning about the birds visiting their backyards can provide a meaningful connection to nature especially now with the extra screen time young people are having to do with their school work at home,” says Brink. “ Birds connect our world, for some this generates natural curiosity to discover more about the natural world around them”.

Birds Canada organizes several similar programs such as the Schoolyard Bird Blitz, the Christmas Bird County for Kings and the Great Backyard Bird Count.  For more information on these programs, visit www.birdscanada.org.

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Naturehood is a program of the Long Point Biosphere Reserves funded by Nature Canada. The LPBR promotes research, monitoring, community outreach and education, partnerships, and proje

cts that support the goals of biodiversity, conservation, and sustainable communities in Norfolk County. We exchange information and work collaboratively with the Canadian Biosphere Reserves Association, as well as other biosphere reserves in Canada and around the world.

For more information, please contact Cynthia Brink at education@longpointbiosphere.com or (226) 567-0465

Popular Children’s Book about Saving Turtles translated into Ojibwe

Port Rowan, ON. Dec. 9, 2020 – An Ojibwe translation of a popular childrens’ book about a young boy helping turtles safely cross a busy road has been published by the Long Point Biosphere Reserve (LPBR).  The translation was a collaboration with the Ojibwe-speaking Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation, whose Treaty Lands and traditional territory include the LPBR.

Entitled “Kaa Wiika Boontaake” (“Never Give Up”), the colorful book tells the story of little Johnny’s determination to protect his friend “Snapper” and other turtles from heavy traffic.  Written and illustrated by Long Point cottager Jan Everett, the story is based on her husband John’s efforts to save turtles along the Long Point Causeway, the unofficial gateway to the LPBR.

“Recognizing the significance of the turtle in Indigenous culture, we approached the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation (MCFN) to help us translate the book into Anishinaabemowin, the common language of the Ojibwe, Odawa and Pottawatomi peoples of the Three Fires Confederacy”, said LPBR president Rick Levick. An Ojibwe First Nation, the Mississaugas of the Credit have been allied to this Confederacy for more than 200 years.

The translation was done by James “Mawla” Shawana (Odawa/Pottawatomi from Wiikwemkoong First Nation), a language teacher at the Lloyd S. King Elementary School in the MCFN community near Hagersville, Ontario for the past 12 years.

“The Mississaugas of the Credit would like to thank the Long Point Biosphere Reserve for reaching out to our First Nation”, said Chief R. Stacey Laforme. “Our shared collaboration will allow students at the elementary school in our community to enjoy a special experience — reading this popular children’s book in Anishinaabemowin.”

Chief Laforme added, “Collaborations such as these are small but important steps on the journey of reconciliation, miigwech (thank you).”

Since 2014, more than 3,500 English and French copies of the book have been sold with the proceeds supporting on-going maintenance of exclusion fencing and wildlife culverts that were installed along the Causeway to reduce road mortality of turtles and snakes including several Species at Risk.

“The story of Johnny and Snapper parallels the 10-year, $2.7 million effort by the Long Point community that reduced reptile deaths on the Causeway by nearly 80 per cent”, said Levick.  Details about this effort and the role of the LPBR are included in English at the end of the book.

Never Give Up was translated in 2019, the International Year of Indigenous Languages but publication was delayed due to the COVID 19 outbreak.

“We are honoured that our book “Never Give Up” can now be enjoyed in Anishinaabemowin. This truly is a book for children of all ages”, said author Jan Everett and husband John.

Plans are underway to launch the book with a virtual reading by author Jan Everett and translator James Shawana’s daughter Nikki to the students of Lloyd S. King Elementary School.

The LPBR will be distributing free copies of Kaa Wiika Boontaake to other Anishinaabe communities across Ontario and offering it for sale at www.longpointbiosphere.com.

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The Long Point Biosphere Reserve promotes research, monitoring, community outreach and education, partnerships, and projects that support the goals of biodiversity, conservation and sustainable communities in Norfolk County. We exchange information and work collaboratively with the Canadian Biosphere Reserves Association, as well as other biosphere reserves in Canada and around the world.

 The Mississaugas of the Credit are an Ojibwe (Anishinaabe) First Nation with 2,600 band members, of whom approximately 800 live on the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation near Hagersville, Ontario. For more information please visit www.mncfn.ca.

For more information. please contact Rick Levick at president@longpointbiosphere.com or 416-723-2910.

Long Point Biosphere Reserve President Wins Ontario Nature Conservation Award

It is with great pride that the Long Point Biosphere Reserve congratulates our President, Rick Levick, for winning the Ontario Nature Ian Shenstone Fraser Memorial Award for his contributions to reducing wildlife road mortality and his work on the Long Point Causeway Improvement Project.  Rick was nominated by the Norfolk Field Naturalists.

Ontario Nature’s Conservation Awards recognize excellence by honouring the work of individuals, groups, government agencies and corporations to protect wild species and wild spaces in Ontario.

Community involvement defines Ontario Nature’s character and approach. Together with their member groups and individual members, they are protecting and enhancing our natural legacy for future generations.

In accepting the award, Rick said:

“In my 40 year in public relations and marketing, I’ve always made sure that my clients, in this case, the critters that crawl, slither and hop across the Long Point Causeway, get all of the attention and accolades.

While this award recognizes one individual, the success of the Causeway Project involved many people and organizations working together for more 10 years to make our conservation vision a reality. 

Those people include the members of the Steering Committee, the staff at our funding agencies, County staff, several local contractors, the consulting engineers and those poor students who were hired for the worst summer job in Ontario — recording, bagging and tagging road kill on the Causeway.

And it is with all of those people in mind that I am pleased to accept this recognition from Ontario Nature.”

Congratulations Rick, on such well-deserved recognition!

New Local Brewery wins Long Point Biosphere Sustainable Tourism Award

The Long Point World Biosphere Reserve Foundation (LPWBRF) has named the Charlotteville Brewing Company the winner of the 2019 Sustainable Tourism Ambassador Award.

Brewery owners Melanie Doerksen and Tim Wilson were presented with the Award by LPWBRF President Rick Levick at the Norfolk County Economic Development Symposium in Simcoe on February 13.

“Melanie, Tim and their staff certainly ‘walk the talk” of sustainable tourism through their company’s core values and actions,” Levick told the symposium audience. He said those values include:

  • Utilizing as much repurposed material as possible
  • Growing raw ingredients organically and/or purchase organic
  • Paying personnel a living wage so they can prosper
  • Striving to be as close to zero waste as possible
  • Serving artisanal beer and food that is as sustainable as it is delicious

Levick also cited how the company puts its values into practice.

  • 60 per cent of ingredients are grown on premises
  • 30 per cent of spent grains are used in food products
  • 70 per cent of the water used is recycled

The Charlotteville Brewing Company also received Norfolk County’s Entrepreneur of the Year Award at the symposium based on an entirely separate nomination and selection process, Levick noted.

For the past five years, the LPWBRF has presented this award to local businesses whose operations have achieved sustainable tourism goals by conserving the natural resources of the region and operating in an environmentally friendly way. As ambassadors, award recipients pledge to raise public awareness of how sustainable tourism can be achieved in the Long Point World Biosphere Reserve.

The Charlotteville Brewing Company has won the Long Point Biosphere’s 2019 Sustainable Tourism Ambassador Award. Biosphere President Rick Levick (left) presented the award to brewery owner Melanie Doerksen. staffers Emily Hoey and Mary Benedict and Melanie’s husband, Tim Wilson. (photo courtesy of Norfolk County)

Past recipients of the award include:

  • Whistling Gardens in 2014
  • Bonnieheath Estate Lavender and Winery in 2015
  • Blueberry Hill Estates in 2016
  • Long Point Eco Adventures in 2017
  • Long Point Island Hugger Tours in 2018
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