Are you an ethical wildlife photographer?

You’ve recently unwrapped the latest iphone or a shiny new digital camera, perhaps an SLR with some fancy lenses.

Now you have itchy shutter fingers. You’re ready to point your camera at something spectacular and capture a beautiful memory forever. But where to go?

Not to brag, but Ontario Parks are beautiful, iconic places. Covering nearly 10% of the province and protecting some of Ontario’s most rare and scenic habitats, our parks are home to a variety of wildlife, from fascinating insects to enormous moose.

Basically, they’re a photographer’s dreamscape.

We’re animal lovers too. We know how exhilarating wildlife encounters can be. We understand how badly you want that perfect photo.

But before you hit the road, ask yourself: is taking the perfect photograph worth risking an animal’s life or an ecosystem’s health?

If your answer is “no,” check out our list of seven common photography infractions to ensure you’re keeping our parks safe and healthy.

Continue reading Are you an ethical wildlife photographer?

Hands off park wildlife!

Protected areas are fascinating places.

If you’re lucky, during your visit you may spot a wide variety of wildlife who call these parks home.

However, you may not always see healthy animals.

In these natural spaces, you could see animals that look sick, injured, or orphaned. We know you want to help wildlife, but helping wildlife means keeping your hands off! Continue reading Hands off park wildlife!

Forever protected

We all know Ontario’s provincial parks aim to protect our natural landscapes and species.

But did you know that each individual park is protected for its own (often very specific) reasons?

Our parks work together as a network of biodiversity and protection.

Whether an immense wilderness or a small urban nature reserve, every park plays a critical role in the protection of our biodiversity, including representative ecosystems, species, and cultural heritage.

Continue reading Forever protected

Butterball’s story

Today’s post comes to us from David Bree, former Discovery Program Lead at Presqu’ile Provincial Park.

Butterball was a bit of a miracle child.

The way the year went, it was amazing that his egg was ever laid, let alone hatched. And he never should have flown.

But, somehow, he did.

To truly understand Butterball’s story, and the miracle it was, we must go back eight years. And oh yeah, you should know: Butterball is a Common Tern.

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Squirrels for sale: the incredible history of squirrels at Rondeau

Today’s post is by Jess Matthews, the chief park naturalist at Rondeau Provincial Park.

One hundred years ago, there was a lot we didn’t know about managing parks.

The idea of maintaining ecological integrity is relatively new. Ontario’s first parks were primarily established for recreation and tourism.

During the first half of the 20th century, wildlife was often seen as a tourist attraction or a nuisance. There was little understanding of how animal diseases spread, or how local populations were adapted to the places they lived.

Because park managers didn’t know about any of this, some animals found themselves packed up and shipped off far from their homes.

This is the story of squirrels from Rondeau Provincial Park that, due to their fashionable coats, traveled as far as the White House lawn.

Continue reading Squirrels for sale: the incredible history of squirrels at Rondeau

Is that lichen killing those trees?

Today’s post comes from Cara Freitag, a past Park Naturalist at Neys Provincial Park.

There are many misconceptions about nature: climb a tree to escape bears,  moose are friendly, coolers are strong enough to prevent bears getting your food.

Before I became a naturalist, I thought that all insects were bugs, not just the Hemiptera order. My cousins in Germany thought that every Canadian had a pet Polar Bear!

None of these things are true.

Big mammals tend to get most of the attention, but there are misconceptions about smaller organisms too.

We have many visitors at the Neys Visitor Centre wondering: “Is that lichen killing those trees?” (Don’t worry, the answer is no.)

Continue reading Is that lichen killing those trees?

Community science with the Georgian Bay Mnidoo Gamii Biosphere

Today’s blog was written by Discovery Program Project Coordinator Jessica Stillman.

This summer, Grundy Lake Provincial Park, Killbear Provincial Park, and The Massasauga Provincial Park collaborated with the Georgian Bay Mnidoo Gamii Biosphere (GBB) to host bioblitzes within the world’s largest freshwater archipelago.

What is a bioblitz? In short, it is a community science event for recording different species within a certain location and time.

For these events, park visitors, Friends members, and staff from both Ontario Parks and GBB came together to inventory living things by uploading them to iNaturalist.

Continue reading Community science with the Georgian Bay Mnidoo Gamii Biosphere