Keeping tabs on turtles in Southeastern Ontario

Over the years, Ontario Parks staff have created many blogs about turtles, their significance to the Ontario landscape, and why it’s important that we protect and support them.

You may even be familiar with our Turtle Protection Project! With seven of the eight turtle species found in Ontario being species-at-risk under the Ontario Endangered Species Act, 2007, we like to give them all the support and attention we can.

Well, today’s post is all about this season’s turtle protection efforts in our Southeast Zone, including a new project that was started this year…

Introducing Team Turtle!

Continue reading Keeping tabs on turtles in Southeastern Ontario

Fourth graders become species-at-risk superheroes!

Parks alone are not enough to save species at risk.

As we’ve continued our species-at-risk blog series this summer, we’ve been able to share stories of the amazing species that call parks home and the work being done to protect them.

Now we want to introduce you to the newest team of superheroes taking up the charge across Ontario – grade 4 students!

Continue reading Fourth graders become species-at-risk superheroes!

Finding a place in the sun for the Pitcher’s Thistle

In today’s post, former Chief Park Naturalist Angela Gunn reflects on the at-risk Pitcher’s Thistle.

Almost 20 years have passed since we mindfully took notice of the Pitcher’s Thistle (Cirsium pitcheri) and added it to our provincial species-at-risk list.

Standing up to a metre tall, the Pitcher’s Thistle casts its slender silvery profile against dune and shoreline backdrops.

It humbly asks for its own space to grow in nutrient poor, unstable sands.

What does this plant offer me?

What will the world lose if this species does not linger into the future?

Who would love such a scraggly beast of a plant?

Continue reading Finding a place in the sun for the Pitcher’s Thistle

Charismatic or non-charismatic…that is the question

Today’s post comes from Grundy Lake Provincial Park Senior Naturalist Hope Freeman. 

Have you ever heard the term “species at risk?”

Maybe you have; maybe you haven’t.

In case you haven’t, Ontario’s species at risk are species listed in the Species at Risk in Ontario List regulation under the Endangered Species Act, 2007. Species on the list are classified based on the risk that they may no longer live in the wild in Ontario. Potential classifications, ranging from highest to lowest risk include extirpated, endangered, threatened species, or special concern.

Each species is at risk due to many reasons, but the common denominator is almost always habitat loss.

At risk is one status symbol we don’t want species to have!

Continue reading Charismatic or non-charismatic…that is the question

(Don’t fear) The Eastern Hog-nosed Snake

Today’s post comes from Nicholas Ypelaar, former assistant Discovery coordinator at Awenda Provincial Park

“EW! SNAKES!” and/or accompanying fearful shrieks are phrases I’m all too familiar with.

In defense of all those who have zero affinity to the limbless scaled reptiles of the world, I can understand it. My grandmother grew up in Goa, India, where venomous snakes such as cobras and kraits are commonplace.

As humans, we tend to build fears based on what we perceive as dangerous to help us survive. However, we aren’t the only species trying to survive.

I’d like to dispel the myth that Ontario snakes are dangerous through the lens of a particular “bad actor,” the threatened Eastern Hog-nosed Snake.

Continue reading (Don’t fear) The Eastern Hog-nosed Snake

“Peent! Peent!” Here comes the Common Nighthawk

Today’s blog was written by former Discovery leader at Kettle Lakes Provincial Park and current birder and Senior Discovery Ranger at Rondeau Provincial Park, Sarah Wiebe.

Meet the Common Nighthawk.

This peculiar nightjar (medium-sized nocturnal bird) calls Ontario home during the summer months and can be seen all over the province, including cities and provincial parks!

Continue reading “Peent! Peent!” Here comes the Common Nighthawk

Dinosaurs in parks: the Lake Sturgeon

Today’s post comes from Christian Therrien, past Northwest Zone senior assistant ecologist.

Most agree all dinosaurs went extinct 66 million years ago.

However, looking into species found in parks reveals that some dinosaurs have indeed persisted and can be seen today!

From the Snapping Turtle to the Silver Lamprey, remnants from this forgotten time are prominent today in Ontario Parks.

However of all the dinosaurs in our parks, the most impressive is the Lake Sturgeon.

Continue reading Dinosaurs in parks: the Lake Sturgeon

A ghost in the attic

Today’s blog comes to us from Sam Alison, former Ontario Parks Gray Ratsnake researcher at Murphys Point Provincial Park

I must admit, as a seven year old, I was a little nervous about spending the night at my great grandmother’s cottage. At the family reunion, I had heard all about the seemingly mythical creature that lived in the attic…

…a creature so good at hiding, you’d never know where it was at any point in time.

…a creature so long, it could reach right around the door frame if it wanted to.

…a creature so mesmerizing, that everyone had a story to tell.

What was this creature? Where was it? I was hooked.

I spent our family vacation looking for this legend. Little did I know, this adventure would inspire my future career.

A university degree and many years later, I’m still searching for Canada’s longest snake species – the Gray Ratsnake.

Continue reading A ghost in the attic

From the abundant to the rare, parks protect them all

Today’s post comes from Natural Heritage Education Supervisor Alistair MacKenzie at Pinery Provincial Park.

The landscape of Ontario Parks is renowned for being strongholds for myriad species, both common and rare.

A primary objective of Ontario Parks is the maintenance and restoration of ecological integrity, and the strengths of our protected areas are evident in the diversity of life found within.

Together, all of the native species found in Ontario make up the province’s biodiversity. Ontario’s biodiversity consists of species that are abundant and widespread across the province as well as others that are very rare and found only in isolated populations.

It is key to keep all of the species that we have to ensure healthy natural communities continue to thrive and provide ecological services to humans.

Continue reading From the abundant to the rare, parks protect them all

Regarding rattlesnakes at Killbear Provincial Park

Today’s post comes from Killbear Provincial Park‘s Senior Park Naturalist Isabelle Moy. 

Here at Killbear, it’s no secret that we’re home to Ontario’s only species of venomous snake: the Massasauga Rattlesnake.

From our “Please brake for snakes” signs to daily Snake Talks to naturalists telling visitors that if they see a snake to call the park, you can tell we aren’t trying to hide all the cool work we do to protect this unique species-at-risk.

Continue reading Regarding rattlesnakes at Killbear Provincial Park