Tuesday, 18 February 2020

EcoSask News, February 18, 2020

melting frost on cedar

Upcoming Events
Permaculture AGM, Feb. 22 (Regina)
Permaculture Regina is holding its annual general meeting from 1-3 pm, Feb. 22.

Winter Fun Day, Feb. 23 (Elbow) 
Enjoy snowshoe treks and sleigh rides at Douglas Provincial Park from 1-4 pm, Feb. 23.

EnviroCollective, Feb. 24 (Regina)
There will be a presentation on RCE Saskatchewan at the 7-9 pm, Feb. 24, meeting of EnviroCollective.

Cultures of Sustainability, Feb. 25 (Regina)
There will be a talk on fostering cultures of sustainability at noon, Feb. 25, at Innovation Place Regina.

Learn to Camp, Feb. 25 (Saskatoon)
Parks Canada will provide an introduction to basic camping skills from 6:30-8:30 pm, Feb. 25.

Sharing Circle on EcoDistress, Feb. 26 (North Battleford)
Battlefords Climate Action is hosting a sharing circle on eco distress, eco anxiety, and eco grief from 6-8 pm, Feb. 26.

The Plastics Puzzle, Feb. 26 (Saskatoon)
The College of Engineering, U of S, is hosting a conversation about the plastics challenge, the impact on the environment, and where we go from here from 4:30-6 pm, Feb. 26.

Freeway Update, Feb. 26 (Saskatoon)
Learn about updates to the Saskatoon Freeway plan from 4-8 pm, Feb. 26.

Renewable City, Feb. 27 (Regina)
Emily Eaton will discuss how Regina’s renewable city motion can benefit diverse communities from 7-9 pm, Feb. 27.

Beginner Bird Id, Feb. 28 (Lloydminster)
The Saskatchewan Breeding Bird Atlas is offering a beginner bird Id workshop in Lloydminster from 7-9 pm, Feb. 28.

Alternative Grazing, Feb. 28 (webinar)
There will be a webinar on how alternative grazing practices affect the diversity and abundance of grassland birds at noon, Feb. 28.

raindrops on cedar branch

Looking Ahead
Compost Matters, Mar. 12 & 13 (Saskatoon)
A compost facility operator workshop hosted by the Saskatchewan Waste Reduction Council on Mar. 12 is a useful overview for those currently managing or interested in managing organics recycling facilities.

A 3-hour intensive workshop on Mar. 13 will uncover the fundamentals of soil productivity, covering soil structure, compost, and climate change.

A full list of upcoming events can be found on the EcoFriendly Sask Calendar 

In the News
A new company with Saskatoon links aims to replace plastic with natural materials that will quickly decompose in a backyard compost. Cogomelo’s “products are made from mycelium-based composites, where we use a substrate – in our case, agricultural waste – that is partially replaced as the fungal biomass grows and consumes it.” Their first product is a lint roller. You can help by participating in the company’s crowdfunding campaign.

Light pollution from oil and gas production, warehouse hubs, and greenhouses is threatening the rural night sky.

Hunters exert a disproportionate influence on wildlife management policy, especially when “more than a third of all Americans now participate in activities like bird watching, wildlife photography, or visiting parks for the purpose of observing animals.”

Ontario Nature’s Best Practices Guide to Natural Heritage Systems Planning is designed to assist with policy development as municipalities review and update their official community plans. While based on Ontario best practices, the principles can be applied universally.

The Delta Naturalists’ Society motivated their municipality to develop a birds and biodiversity conservation strategy and continue to work with the municipality on implementation.

Port O’Bristol’s organic, biodynamic wine is produced in Portugal. The wine barrels are shipped to the UK on sail-driven cargo ships where the wine is bottled in reclaimed bottles. Waste cooking oil fuels the delivery vehicles and the company uses and buys no plastic.

A bibliography of articles about “trash animals” (gulls, pigeons, rats).

EcoSask News is a weekly round-up of local news and events. Email us if you have items you would like us to include. 

You can follow EcoFriendly Sask by liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter, or by email (top right corner).

Tuesday, 11 February 2020

EcoSask News, February 11, 2020

Untitled

Upcoming Events
Repair Café, Feb. 15 (Prince Albert)
Celebrate and share maintenance and repair skills from 1-4 pm, Jan. 18, at Repair Café Prince Albert.

Cold Blooded, Feb. 15 (Saskatoon)
Find out more about our cold-blooded neighbours on a nature walk offered by Lichen Nature from 1-3:30 pm, Feb. 15.

Saskatchewan’s Largest Snake, Feb. 17 (Regina) 
Find out about bull snakes at the 7:30 pm, Feb. 17, meeting of Nature Regina.

Grassland Restoration, Feb. 18 (Prince Albert) 
Join Nature Prince Albert for a talk on grassland restoration from 7-9 pm, Feb. 18.

Accelerating Adoption of Solar Power, Feb. 18 (Saskatoon) 
Peter Prebble and Michael Nemeth, SES Solar Co-op, will talk about the lessons learned from numerous solar installations and how adoption of solar power in the Saskatoon region can be accelerated at 7 pm, Feb. 18.

What People Believe, Feb. 19 (Regina) 
Gordon Pennycook will discuss why people believe what they believe about climate change from 7-9 pm, Feb. 19.

SK Conservation 101, Feb. 20 (Moose Jaw)
Find out what a day in the life of a Saskatchewan Conservation Officer entails at 2:30 pm, Feb. 20.

Breeding Bird Atlas, Feb. 20 (Saskatoon) 
Birds Canada staff will review the first 3 years of the SK Breeding Bird Atlas at the 7:30 pm, Feb. 20, meeting of the Saskatoon Nature Society.

Untitled

Looking Ahead
Winterful Adventures for Little Learners, Feb. 29 (Saskatoon) 
Join SaskOutdoors at 1 pm, Feb. 29, for a workshop on overcoming barriers to winter outdoor activities for young children.

Project Wild/Below Zero, Mar. 7 (Saskatoon) 
SaskOutdoors is offering a Project Wild/Below Zero workshop from 9:30 am-4 pm, Mar. 7, in Saskatoon.

Wilderness Safety & Survival, Mar. 7-8 (Moose Mountain) 
The Saskatchewan chapter of The Wildlife Society is helping to coordinate a wilderness safety and survival training course in Moose Mountain Provincial Park Mar. 7-8.

Compost Coach Training, Mar. 7 & 8 (Saskatoon) 
Compost coach training is a free, 2-day workshop on Mar. 7 & 8 to learn all about composting and join Saskatoon’s team of volunteer compost coaches.

Projet Wet, Mar. 14 (Regina)
SaskOutdoors offre un atelier sur Projet Wet en français de 13 à 16 heures, le 14 mars, à Régina.

A full list of upcoming events can be found on the EcoFriendly Sask Calendar 

Saskatchewan News
Saskatoon’s Green Infrastructure Strategy, outlining 15 actions that are intended to provide a sustainable habitat for people and nature, was presented to the Standing Policy Committee on Environment, Utilities and Corporate Services on Feb. 10. The Committee’s agenda package includes an executive summary of the strategy, a presentation from the Meewasin Valley Authority, as well as letters of support from Friends of the Saskatoon Afforestation Areas, Joanne Blythe, and Branimir Gjetvaj.

The City of Saskatoon will be testing an electric bus as part of its public transit fleet.

Government of Saskatchewan will consider investing in pipeline projects: “The reality is that unless governments are involved in energy infrastructure projects, they’re not going to get built.”

Untitled

That’s Interesting!
Bristol, UK, has declared an ecological emergency over loss of wildlife. The mayor says, “It is not too late to start the recovery of our wildlife. We must work together to grasp this last chance and put things right for nature and wildlife in our city.”

Can we have prosperity without growth? “Reversing consumerism’s financial and cultural dominance in public and private life is set to be one of the twenty-first century’s most gripping psychological dramas.”

Climate change, pollution, and urbanization threaten water in Canada.

“A carbon-offset project developed specifically to fund the protection of the Great Bear Rainforest is struggling to find buyers.”

Wasps are fascinatingly complex. [comic]

EcoSask News is a weekly round-up of local news and events. Email us if you have items you would like us to include. 

You can follow EcoFriendly Sask by liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter, or by email (top right corner).

Sunday, 9 February 2020

Seedy Saskatchewan 2020

Gaillardia flowers

It’s never too soon to start planning ahead for spring planting. Below are upcoming Seedy Saturday and Sunday events across Saskatchewan as well as a list of organizations hosting plant-related events. Do let us know if we have missed any events or organizations.

Seedy Saturday/Sunday
Yorkton, February 22 
Yorkton Seedy Saturday will be held from 11 am-4 pm, Feb. 22, at 345 Broadway Street. Buy or swap seeds, chat with local vendors, and more.

Prince Albert, February 23 
Prince Albert Seedy Sunday will be held from 1-5 pm, Feb. 23, at the John M. Cuelenaere Library

Regina, March 7
The theme for Regina’s Seedy Saturday on March 7 from 10 am-3 pm at St. Paul’s Anglican Church is Sustainability in the Home, Garden, and Yard and will include a garden tool exchange.

Moose Jaw, March 8 
Moose Jaw Seedy Sunday will be held from 10 am-2 pm, Mar. 8, at the Moose Jaw Public Library.

Saskatoon, March 14
Celebrate Seedy Saturday seed exchange and eco-fair from 10 am-3 pm, Mar. 14, at Station 20 West.

Indian Head, March 15 
Indian Head Seedy Sunday will be held from 1-4 pm, Mar. 15, at the Heritage Club (505 Otterloo Street).

Battlefords, March 28
Battlefords Seedy Saturday will be held from 12-4 pm, Mar. 23, in the Don Ross Centre Craft Room.

Meadow Lake, March 29
Meadow Lake Seedy Sunday will be held from 12-4 pm, Mar. 29, at the Meadow Lake Senior Citizens Activity Centre. This year’s theme is Grow Your Own with seminars starting at 1 pm on topics such as starting your own bedding plants, garden planning, and crop rotation.

For information about Seedy Saturday events across Canada, check the Seeds of Diversity website or Prairie Garden Seeds.

Blazing star flower

Green Thumb Organizations
Blazing Star Wildflower Seed Company 
Blazing Star Wildflower Seed Company supplies native wildflower and heirloom vegetable seeds and plants for gardens and restoration projects.

Compost Coach Training (Saskatoon) 
The Saskatchewan Waste Reduction Council offers a two-day training in late February/early March for individuals interested in joining Saskatoon’s team of compost coaches. Email compost@swrc.ca for more details.

Edible Landscapes Permaculture Design and Consulting (Regina) 
Edible Landscapes is offering a course on edible and medicinal plants from July 17-19. The registration deadline is June 15.

Horticultural Societies (Regina, Saskatoon) 
The Regina Horticultural Society holds monthly educational events.
The Saskatoon Horticultural Society offers a quarterly newsletter as well as various events.

Lichen Nature (Saskatoon) 
Lichen Nature offers ecological garden services as well as ecological literacy walks and workshops.

Native Plant Society of Saskatchewan 
The Native Plant Society of Saskatchewan offers workshops, tours, conferences, and other learning events throughout the year as well as a wide variety of educational resources.

Permaculture (Prince Albert, Regina, Saskatoon) 
Join your local permaculture association:
     Prince Albert Parkland Permaculture Guild
     Permaculture Regina
     Permaculture Research Institute of Saskatchewan (Saskatoon)

Prairie Habitat Garden (Saskatoon) 
The Prairie Habitat Garden is located beside the College of Education, University of Saskatchewan.

Prairie Garden Seeds 
Prairie Garden Seeds has been encouraging home gardening and seed saving since 1986.

Seed Libraries (Prince Albert, Saskatoon) 
Seed libraries provide free access to viable native open-pollinated seeds.
     Prince Albert Seed Library
     Saskatoon Seed Library

The Garden Patch (Saskatoon) 
The Saskatoon Food Bank and Learning Centre’s Garden Patch offers a wide variety of workshops throughout the gardening season. Check their Facebook page for details.

wild rose

You can follow EcoFriendly Sask by liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter, or by email (top right corner). 

A full list of upcoming events can be found on the EcoFriendly Sask Calendar

Tuesday, 4 February 2020

EcoSask News, February 4, 2020

Northern Hawk Owl

Upcoming Events
Sask Snakes, Feb. 8 (Regina) 
Learn about and handle snakes with the Wildlife Rehabilitation Society of Saskatchewan from 2:30-4 pm, Feb. 8, at the Prince of Wales Branch Library.

Green Labs, Feb. 11 (Saskatoon) 
Learn more about Work Green Labs from 3-4:15 pm, Feb. 11, at the U of S.

Climate Change, Feb. 13 (Regina) 
Margot Hurlbert will present recent findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and discuss climate change scenarios and pathways into the future from 7-9 pm, Feb. 13, in Regina.

Candlelit Ski, Feb. 14 (Moose Mountain) 
Enjoy cross-country skiing and snowshoeing at Moose Mountain Provincial Park from 7-9 pm, Feb. 1.

Looking Ahead 
Duck Mountain Loppet, Feb. 29 (Kamsack) 
Participate in the 40th annual Duck Mountain cross-country ski loppet from 8:30 am-6 pm, Feb. 29.

Intermediate Bird Id, Feb. 29/Mar. 7 (Battlefords) 
The Saskatchewan Breeding Bird Atlas is offering a two-part intermediate bird Id workshop from 10 am-3 pm, Feb. 29 and Mar. 7 in the Battlefords.

A full list of upcoming events can be found on the EcoFriendly Sask Calendar 

SK News 
The City of Regina is defending its decision to hire a well-known climate change denier to speak at its upcoming sustainability conference. Many local residents disagree and believe the conference needs to be reimagined.

The City of Prince Albert, however, is leading the way as the first city in Saskatchewan to ban plastic check out bags.

Great horned owl silhouette

Ideas & Resources
I want to live in a world where we are conscious of the environmental impact of what we design, build and consume, where we make things that last, fix them when they break, and design them to be modularly upgraded, where we empower people to explore how their devices work, identify weaknesses, and develop ways to improve them, where access to information encourages dialogue so that innovations come from every corner of our society.”

When local people take control of their own energy, emissions go down and opportunities go up. . . . It’s time to get to work rewiring our communities so we can free ourselves from fossil fuels and strengthen our communities for what’s to come.”

Tipping points: six systems where a small change could make a big difference in addressing the climate crisis.

"Though studies show that over their lifetime EVs produce fewer emissions than gas guzzlers, EVs generate considerably more CO2 than a gas car on the assembly line, making renewably sourced energy a key factor for an EV to break even with a gas car.

Now that’s interesting!
The default condition in plants is immortality.

In an effort to cut vehicle emissions and boost public transportation, Austria’s capital will reward car-free travel with free access to museums and concerts.

EcoSask News is a weekly round-up of local news and events. Email us if you have items you would like us to include. 

You can follow EcoFriendly Sask by liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter, or by email (top right corner).

Thursday, 30 January 2020

Regina's EnviroCollective


“A report came out recently saying we had only 12 years to make serious reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. That was a wake-up call for me,” says Shanon Zachidniak, Regina, Saskatchewan. “There had to be something more I could be doing.”

Shanon Zachidniak has a Master’s degree in Environmental Studies and has cared about the environment for as long as she can remember. In response to the report, Shanon posted on Facebook, inviting friends to get together to discuss climate change and see what could be done about it. “I thought we’d feel less isolated if we could discuss it as a group,” she says.

The response was far greater than expected, extending well beyond her group of friends, so Shanon moved the meeting to a public location. The group, now known as EnviroCollective, has continued on from there and celebrated its first-year anniversary at the end of November.

EnviroCollective is very much a grassroots initiative; nobody owns it. Participants are encouraged to propose initiatives and, if there’s enough interest and enough people who want to be involved, it ends up happening. The group has prioritized partnering with and maintaining good relationships with other environmental organizations. “We want to fill the gaps, not step on anyone’s toes,” Shanon explains.

“We are about connections, efficiencies. There is a role to play in helping connect groups, people, and resources. Funding dollars ask for more to be done with less, even though climate change is an actual existential threat. We need all-hands-on-deck, uniting behind the science,” offers Maureen Huot, a founding member.

One of the group’s first actions was to provide support for the intervenors in the carbon tax court case. EnviroCollective hosted a press conference for those intervening on behalf of the federal government and provided a space where intervenors could relax, conduct media interviews, network with each other, and watch a live stream of the court case. The space drew local activists as well as curious observers. Lasting connections were made as groups displayed banners, distributed information, and requested signatures on petitions. EnviroCollective was able to provide lunch and other refreshments each day thanks to local businesses and friends.


EnviroCollective was active in organizing the first student climate strikes in Regina. As an “adult ally” in a youth-led movement, they have helped the students take on the leadership role and EnviroCollective has stepped back, providing support as needed.

Mother Earth Justice Advocates (MEJA) is a local Indigenous-led group focusing on climate change and environmental initiatives through an Indigenous lens. EnviroCollective partnered with them to organize a book launch earlier this year and they have plans for several more joint activities. The partnership works well as the groups share a common belief in checking your ego at the door.

Partnership is a guiding principle for all EnviroCollective activities. When asked to speak to a high school class about climate change, EnviroCollective invited MEJA and Fridays for Future to join them. “There was nice representation from a variety of folks and perspectives and a good age range,” Shanon says. Some of the students attended the next event, a Youth Community Forum on Regina’s Energy Future, on November 30.

The Youth Community Forum was organized by EnviroCollective, Charged Up (David Suzuki Foundation), the Regina Public Interest Research Group ( RPIRG), and MEJA. Youth under 30 were invited to explore local actions on climate change in light of Regina City Council’s resolution to be 100% renewable by 2050. The crucial conversations that emerged from this event will be shared with City councillors and staff to help move forward with climate action. “We’re trying to build on the energy and the momentum from the global climate strikes and discuss some tangible actions people can be involved in here in Regina,” Shanon says.


EnviroCollective has also been approached by the Canadian Environmental Network (CEN) and Climate Reality, an international organization. CEN would like to reestablish an affiliate network in Saskatchewan, a role formerly filled by the Saskatchewan Eco Network, and Climate Reality has an opportunity for the group to be a hub for Regina.

The collective looks forward to further partnerships and is interested in playing a networking role with other organizations by giving them a platform to talk about what they’re involved in.

EnviroCollective is in the process of incorporating and has recently put in place a steering committee. Joining Shanon and Maureen are journalist Paul Dechene, former city councillor Rob Deglau, and lawyer Larry Kowalchuck. Shanon says future directions will depend on who’s involved, and EnviroCollective encourages anyone who is interested to get in touch.

“We welcome input from anyone interested,” Shanon says. “Come out and let your voice be heard.” 

You can contact Regina’s EnviroCollective on their Facebook page or by emailing envirocollective2018@gmail.com

Tuesday, 28 January 2020

EcoSask News, January 28, 2020

sunrise

Upcoming Events
Green Parenting, Jan. 28 (Regina) 
There will be a talk on minimizing single-use plastics at 7:30 pm, Jan. 28, as part of a Green Parenting discussion series.

Fantastic Fungi, Jan. 29 (Saskatoon) 
The Saskatoon premiere of Fantastic Fungi is at 7 pm, Jan. 29.

Plovers on Shore, Jan. 29 (webinar) 
Shirley Barz, Nature Saskatchewan, will discuss how landowners are helping to conserve piping plovers in a noon-hour webinar on Jan. 29.

Gone Wild for Wildlife, Feb. 1 (Saskatoon) 
Take the whole family to Gone Wild for Wildlife from 11 am-5 pm, Feb. 1, for nature activities, science experiments, lectures, and live wildlife.

Winter Twigs & Buds, Feb. 1 (Saskatoon) 
Learn to identify native trees at Beaver Creek Conservation Area from 1-3 pm, Feb. 1.

Beginner Bird Id, Feb. 2 (Shellbrook) 
The Saskatchewan Breeding Bird Atlas is offering a free 2-hour workshop on the basics of bird identification from 3-5 pm, Feb. 2.

Kalium Observatory, Feb. 3 (Regina) 
Sign up before Feb. 1 to visit the Kalium Observatory with Nature Regina from 7-8:30 pm, Feb. 3.

House on Fire, Feb. 3-14 (Regina) 
Riddell Gallery is hosting an exhibit exploring issues surrounding climate change from Feb. 3-14. The opening reception is Feb. 6 from 4-6 pm.

REM & SaskEv, Feb. 5 (Saskatoon)
Tyler Krause and Jason Cruickshank will provide an overview of EVs’ functionality, types, environmental considerations, and the growing market at the Feb. 5 breakfast meeting of the Saskatchewan Energy Management Task Force.

Water in a Dry Land, Feb. 6 (Regina) 
Kerri Finlay will discuss adaptation and mitigation of prairie aquatic ecosystems under a changing climate from 7-9 pm, Feb. 6.

Regenerative Agriculture, Feb. 7 (Saskatoon) 
Slow Food Saskatoon is sponsoring a workshop on regenerative agriculture in Saskatoon on Feb. 7.

sunrise

Looking Ahead
Building Operator Training, Feb. 28 (Saskatoon)
The Environmental Society is hosting a workshop to introduce custodians and building operators to energy conservation principles, new technologies, and facility retrofits that will save energy and money on Feb. 28.

Wascana Junior Naturalists, Mar-May (Regina)
Registration is now open for the spring session of the Wascana Junior Naturalists from 6-8 pm, Mar. 3, 17, 31; Apr. 7, 21; and May 5 & 12.

A full list of upcoming events can be found on the EcoFriendly Sask Calendar 

Sask News
Extinction Rebellion Saskatchewan is looking for team members to organize protests and actions.

You’re invited to submit a short film (up to 2 minutes) educating and inspiring people about our need for water. The winning films will be featured at the Let's Talk About Water Film Festival,June 13-19, in Saskatoon.

FoodRenew has been selected as one of 8 startups for the upcoming Co.Labs tech incubator. If you or someone you know can help answer some questions about food waste problems in the food service and retail industry, get in touch at foodrenew@gmail.com

A proposed oil project in northwest Saskatchewan will use nearly 5 million litres of water a day. Is this a good use of our province’s finite freshwater supplies? Why will there be no environmental review?

Ideas & Resources 
Planning to Connect: A Guide to Incorporating Ecological Connectivity into Municipal Planning, provides practical guidance for integrating ecological connectivity into the structures and practical realities of municipal planning.

Imagination is the ability to look at things as if they could be otherwise. From What Is to What If by Rob Hopkins, cofounder of the Transition movement, is a call to action to reclaim and unleash our collective imagination and create the future we want.

Ghent’s zone-centred traffic circulation plan improved the local economy, producing more restaurants and bars, shorter journeys, cleaner air, and a cycling explosion.

A recent report looks at ways of reducing local opposition to renewables.

Climate change is a political crisis, not a reproductive one. “Population growth in the U.S. isn’t being driven by high-income, high carbon-emitting families having more children.”

EcoSask News is a weekly round-up of local news and events. Email us if you have items you would like us to include. 

You can follow EcoFriendly Sask by liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter, or by email (top right corner).

Thursday, 23 January 2020

Saskatchewan's Snakes

Garter snake

So many people are terrified of snakes, and yet they are amazing creatures. We hope we can turn your fear into awe.

Snakes, with their flexible skulls and long bodies, are very different from lizards, their closest relatives. Scientists believe that the first snakes both swam like eels and burrowed like worms. The prehistoric South American Titanoboa was 50 feet long and may have weighed as much as a ton. It’s assumed that it preyed on equally huge crocodiles.

None of Saskatchewan’s snakes are anywhere near as large, but they are still a pretty interesting bunch.

Prairie Rattlesnake
Prairie Rattlesnakes are Saskatchewan’s only venomous snake. They immobilize their prey (rodents, lizards) with a toxic venom before swallowing them whole. Digesting their food makes rattlesnakes sluggish, so they normally hide out for a couple of days after eating.

Each time the rattlesnake sheds its skin, a ring is added at the end of its tail. The rings knock together and make a rattling noise.

The Prairie Rattlesnake carries her eggs inside her body and gives birth to live young as an adaptation to the harsh prairie environment.

Rattlesnakes have a thick body with a triangular head and are 1-8 feet long. The scales usually form a dark geometrical pattern on a light background. They are found in southern British Columbia, Alberta, and Saskatchewan; however, the majority live in the deserts of the American southwest and northern Mexico. Arizona has 13 species of rattlesnake, more than any other area in North America.

Garter Snake
Garter Snakes are long and thin and usually have 3 stripes on their back. Garter snakes can be found right across Canada, including the Northwest Territories, but there are none in Newfoundland. Plains Garter Snake live throughout southern Saskatchewan and are often found close to water where they can find frogs and toads to eat. Red-sided Garter Snakes are famous in Saskatchewan for their large mating balls. Wandering Garter Snake are technically terrestial, but they love to swim and eat fish.

Garter snake

Hognose Snake
Hognose Snakes are short (2-4 feet) and stout. Their colour and pattern are extremely variable. Western Hognose Snake will play possum and pretend they are dead as a way to deter predators. You’ll find them in sandy areas where it’s easier for them to dig in the dirt using their upturned, pointed snout.

Hognose Snakes eat rodents and lizards, although Eastern Hognose specialize in eating toads.

Bullsnake
The Bullsnake is the prairies’ biggest snake. It is 3-8 feet long and can weigh as much as 5 pounds. Despite being so large, they are very calm and are unlikely to bite or attack humans. Bullsnakes have a large head, large eyes, and a narrow neck. They are light brown to yellow with a cream-coloured belly and dark blotches on their back and sides. An enlarged nose shield helps them to burrow in the sand.

Bullsnakes squeeze their prey to death. They particularly like to eat gophers and mice, so you are lucky if you have them on your farm.

Bullsnakes spend up to 90% of their time in underground dens, although they spend so much time sunning themselves during the summer that they can develop skin cancer.

If you see a Bullsnake (dead or alive), especially in southwest Saskatchewan, email the Royal Saskatchewan Museum at snakes@royalsaskmuseum.ca to contribute to a current research project.

Smooth Greensnake
Smooth Green Snakes are a bright emerald green colour with a creamy white or yellowish belly. They are often found in grassy areas where their colouring provides excellent camouflage. Smooth green snakes mostly eat insects, which they detect through smell, sight, and vibrations. They spend their winters in ant hills.

Eastern Yellow-bellied Racer
Eastern Yellow-bellied Racers are long, smooth-scaled, and quick moving. They have a yellow belly and olive-coloured scales on their back. They live in mixed-grass prairie and sagebrush thickets where they can hide from predators. The species is threatened and very rare.

Eastern Yellow-bellied Racers don't bask in the sun like other snakes. They are always on the move, hunting for grasshoppers with their heads up.

Northern Red-bellied Snake
The Northern Red-bellied Snake is as thin as a pencil! Look for it in the Qu’Appelle area. It is the only Canadian snake with a bright red belly. Red-bellied snakes can be found in forest clearings and grassy areas where there is plenty of ground cover such as logs and rocks.

Red-bellied snakes are nocturnal and help to control garden pests, such as slugs, worms, snails, and insects.

Garter snake 

Did You Know?
Snakes can swallow food larger than their head. Their jaw bones are not attached at the front and only loosely connected to their skull so they can open their mouths very wide and each side of the jaw can move independently. The snake gradually walks each side of its jaws over the prey until it can be swallowed.

Snakes taste and smell the world using their tongues. Thanks to their forked tongue, they can tell which direction the scent is coming from.

Large-bodied snakes such as Bullsnakes, Yellow-bellied Racers, and Rattlesnakes appear to be completely dependent on major river valleys. Find out more in this presentation by Ray Poulin, Royal Saskatchewan Museum.

Saskatchewan has the highest snake diversity in the Canadian Prairies.

Snakes play an important role in controlling rodent populations. They also serve as a food source for other wildlife, such as hawks, owls, mink, skunks, and herons.

What Can You Do? 
Conserve native prairie habitat and river valleys. Like many species, snakes depend on native grasslands for their home.

Give snakes a break. Don’t kill or harass snakes. They are afraid of people and will only defend themselves.

Keep an eye out for snakes. Snakes will be crossing roads, especially in the spring and fall. Be particularly careful when you are driving in areas known to have snakes to avoid running them over.

Our thanks to the Saskatchewan Prairie Conservation Action Plan for assisting us in preparing this article. The Saskatchewan Prairie Conservation Action Plan (SK PCAP) Partnership brings together 30 agencies and organizations representing producers, industry, provincial & federal governments, environmental non-government organizations, research and educational institutions working towards a common vision of prairie and species at risk conservation in Saskatchewan. They produce a variety of communications materials to improve public understanding of native prairie and species at risk. 

You can follow EcoFriendly Sask by liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter, or by email (top right corner). A full list of upcoming events can be found on the EcoFriendly Sask Calendar