Tuesday, 10 December 2019

EcoSask News, December 10, 2019


Upcoming Events
Climate Strike Organizing, Dec. 12 (Regina) 
Help plan future climate strikes in Regina from 5-7 pm, Dec. 12.

Pronghorn & Connectivity, Dec. 18 (webinar) 
A webinar on pronghorn: a focal species for grassland connectivity will be offered at noon, Dec. 18, by the Saskatchewan Prairie Conservation Action Plan.

Looking Ahead 
Kalium Observatory, Feb. 3 (Regina)
Sign up before Feb. 1 for a visit with Nature Regina to the Kalium Observatory from 7-8:30 pm, Feb. 3, hosted by the Royal Astronomical Society Regina Centre.

Project Wild/Below Zero, Feb. 8 (Regina)
SaskOutdoors is offering a Project Wild/Below Zero workshop from 9:30 am-4 pm, Feb. 8, in Regina.

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


In the News
Maintaining grasslands near agricultural fields can boost crop production; improve biodiversity, soil health, and water quality; and support pollinators and predators that will control pests.

Lorne Scott, farmer-conservationist, confirms that agricultural drainage is destroying wildlife habitat.

“We often view mosquitoes as bloodsuckers that do nothing but make our lives miserable.” However, “indiscriminate mass elimination of mosquitoes would impact everything from pollination to biomass transfer to food webs.”

“Soil is a breathing, squirming, thriving, living thing. It gives back to its environment and helps it survive and thrive. That interconnection is important in a world where we are increasingly disconnected from nature.” Do we lose that connection with soil-less agriculture?

Michigan’s second-highest court has ruled that bottled water is not an essential public service or a public water supply, making it harder for NestlĂ© to privatize water.

“I looked down at the plastic chair I occupied and saw my gray stretchy corduroy pants, and I realized that both the chair and my clothing were made from the same raw material: oil. I looked at the carpet beneath my feet—it was also made of oil. . . . I had a sudden image of a wardrobe that would be made from natural fibers and dyes grown within a strategic area centered on where I lived.”

“The most effective planning choices are not always the most popular.” To reduce traffic congestion, you need to remove car lanes, restrict traffic, and improve public transit.

The world’s first funerary human composting facility is slated to open in the spring of 2021 in Washington state.

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, 5 December 2019

2019 Christmas Bird Counts in Saskatchewan

Song sparrow

Join a century-old tradition by participating in one of the 2019 Christmas Bird Counts in Saskatchewan. No experience is necessary and it’s a great way to learn about identifying birds as each count is led by an experienced birder. Organizers ask that you register as soon as possible. 

Christmas bird counts are for all ages! Check out the Christmas Bird Counts for Kids in Regina, Saskatoon, and Yorkton (see below).

Dec. 14 – Clark’s Crossing (Warman, Osler, Martensville, NE Swale), register online or call 647-390-6645

Dec. 14 – Craven & area, contact Chris Harris for details (306-569-5300, chrisgharris2013@gmail.com)

Dec. 15 – Qu’Appelle Dam (Elbow, Douglas Park), register online or call 306-242-5383 or 306-652-5975

Dec. 16 – Gardiner Dam, register online or call 306-249-3280

Dec. 17 – Fort Qu'Appelle, call Keith at 306-332-3070

Dec. 21 – Borden/Radisson, register online or call 306-281-6996

Dec. 21 – Saltcoats & area, call Arden & Donna Bradford at 774-7730 or Gerri & Ron Knudsen at 744-2969, rgknudsen@sasktel.net

Dec. 26 – Saskatoon, register online or call 306-652-5975

Dec. 26 – Moose Jaw, call 306-690-6267 

Dec. 28 – Regina, contact Brett Quiring for details (306-551-8729, bquiring@sasktel.net)

Jan. 4 – Balgonie, contact Brett Quiring for details (306-551-8729, bquiring@sasktel.net)

Jan. 4 – Pike Lake/ Whitecap, register online or call 306-956-3437

Song sparrow

Christmas Bird Counts for Kids
Dec. 8, 2 pm – Yorkton – Ages 5-15 accompanied by an adult. Meet at the Tupper Avenue entrance to Logan Green. Bring binoculars if you have them and dress warmly.

Jan. 2, 9:45 am-3 pm – Saskatoon – Saskatoon Nature Society and Saskatoon Zoo Society are hosting a Christmas Bird Count for Kids at the Saskatoon Forestry Farm Park and Zoo. There will be 20-30 minute bird walks at the top of each hour. Further information available online or call 306-370-8839.

Jan. 4, 1-4 pm – Regina – Nature Saskatchewan is hosting a Christmas Bird Count for Kids at Wascana Centre. There will be a special visit from Loki, the crow, courtesy of Living Sky Wildlife Rehabilitation. Register early as spaces are limited (306-780-9481 or rmagnus@naturesask.ca).

Note: With thanks to Nature Regina, Nature Saskatchewan, Saskatoon Nature Society, Saskatoon Young Naturalists, and Yellowhead Flyway Birding Trail for the information they provided.

We’ll  update this list if we receive additional information.

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, 3 December 2019

EcoSask News, December 3, 2019

ice on the river

Upcoming Events
Woodland Caribou, Dec. 10 (Saskatoon)
Branden Neufeld will discuss his research into conserving Canada’s woodland caribou at 7 pm, Dec. 10, as part of the Sustainable Speaker series.

Great Plains Toad, Dec. 12 (Saskatoon)
Learn about the natural history, distribution, and habitat of the great plains toad at the 7:30 pm, Dec. 12, meeting of Saskatoon Nature Society.

Nachos & Nature, Dec. 14 (Saskatoon) 
Outdoor and environmental educators in the Saskatoon area are invited to a free nachos and nature social sponsored by SaskOutdoors from 2-4 pm, Dec. 14.

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

Around the Province 
Battlefords Climate Action is a group of volunteers in North Battleford and area promoting action on the climate crisis. You can follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

The City of Regina is hosting Reimagine Conference 2020: Roadmap to Sustainable Cities from May 20-21. The City of Regina has targeted fully renewable city operations within the next 30 years. “This conference recognizes the importance of strategic partnerships with our energy and business sectors, community leaders, and fellow municipalities. We hope to attract delegates from all areas to learn how we can work together with mutual goals of becoming more renewable and sustainable.”

In the News
A scientific article explains why small modular reactors may not be able to solve the problems confronting nuclear power. A second article agrees with Ann Coxworth, Saskatchewan Environmental Society, urging caution: “SMRs are not going to help in the next decade because they are just not available. By the time they turn up we can see if they are still cost effective or if renewable’s have gone beyond.”

Stop! Don’t send that email. If you do, you will add to your carbon footprint.

If we want to conserve little brown bats, we need to stop evicting them from buildings. “The long-term viability of vulnerable species requires recognition of critical habitats,” they write, “including those also occupied by humans.”

They’re still logging the Great Bear Rainforest, including very old, very large cedars.

ice on the river

‘Tis the Season
The stuff we consume — from food to knick-knacks — is responsible for up to 60 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions and between 50 and 80 percent of total land, material, and water use.”

Share the love without the stuff – an alternate gifting site that helps you create certificates for gifts of time or baking or shared experiences.

CPAWS Saskatchewan offers some excellent advice for keeping Christmas green.

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, 26 November 2019

EcoSask News, November 26, 2019

Bald Eagle

Upcoming Events
Falconry, Nov. 28 (Saskatoon) 
Paddy Thompson will discuss the amazing world of falconry at 7 pm, Nov. 28.

Buy Nothing Day, Nov. 29 (worldwide) 
Climate strikes being planned world-wide for November 29 coincide with Buy Nothing Day, an international day of protest against consumerism.

Nature Travels in Iceland, Nov. 30 (Fort Qu’Appelle) 
Ed Rodger will speak on his nature travels in Iceland at the 7 pm, Nov. 30, meeting of the Fort Qu’Appelle Nature Society in the Fort Qu’Appelle Train Station.

Grasslands: A Hidden Wilderness, Dec. 2 (Regina) 
Join Nature Regina and the Royal Saskatchewan Museum to watch the documentary Grasslands: A Hidden Wilderness followed by a question and answer at 7:30 pm, Dec. 2.

Future of Parks, Dec. 3 (Saskatoon) 
Mitchell Silver, Commissioner, New York Department of Parks, will talk on the Future of Parks and Public Space: What’s Next? at 7 pm, Dec. 3.

Civilization Critical, Dec. 4 (Saskatoon) 
Darrin Qualman will speak about his book, Civilization Critical, at the Nov. 6 breakfast meeting of the SK Energy Management Task Force.

Innercity Clothing Swap, Dec. 5 (Saskatoon)
There will be an Innercity Clothing Swap from 6-10 pm, Dec. 5, at The Underground Café.

Saskatoon Nature Society Field Trips
Dec. 1, 2-4 pm – Winter Wildlife Tracking in the Small Swale
Dec. 7, 9 am-5 pm – Gardiner Dam Birding
Everyone is welcome. Check the Saskatoon Nature Society’s website for full details and updated information.

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

Saskatoon Freeway & the Swales
If you love nature and want to protect it, you’re encouraged to attend the Saskatoon Freeway public consultations on Nov. 26 and 27. Here’s why:
1. The decisions around Phase 1 will affect the freeway’s route through both the Small Swale and the Northeast Swale;
2. The environmental data for the area crossed by Phase 1 is not complete, but Highways is making decisions about the specific route and design;
3. Decisions about the route will affect Wanuskewin's natural and cultural landscape which might affect its application for UNESCO Heritage status;
4. The route is being decided before having a full consultation with affected landowners; and
5. Highways says it is consulting with groups such as the Northeast Swale Watchers but has also declared that the route is non-negotiable.

Local people are concerned that the proposed logging of more than 7,660 acres of forest in Meadow Lake Provincial Park will do more harm than good.

Myles MacDonald, Paddockwood, was arrested trying to prevent municipal workers from chopping down all the trees and bushes that provide wildlife habitat in the road allowance.

“It’s often argued that logging trees killed by insects or diseases is beneficial for forests—but evidence is mounting that it causes long-term ecological disruption.”

In Other News
The risks of farming over top of pipelines: crop degradation and lower yields, leaks and ruptures, sinkholes, junk pipes never removed.

Canada has the third-highest per capita greenhouse gas emissions from healthcare in the world, with healthcare accounting for approximately 4% of the country’s total emissions.

“Redesigning parks to increase the naturalness, ecological function and diversity of active and passive recreational uses . . . can support higher-density urban areas.”

Noise, especially in urban areas, can have a very negative impact on wildlife.

Insect deaths can be cut by switching off unnecessary lights.

Our home delivery habits are reshaping the world: enormous warehouses, packaging that accounts for 30% of the US’s solid waste, and increased traffic.

Wolverines have vast home ranges and always take the shortest route, whether it’s straight up a mountain or a 50-degree ice pitch.

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, 19 November 2019

EcoSask News, November 19, 2019

fall leaves

Upcoming Events
Great Blue Heron, Nov. 19 (Prince Albert) 
Sonnet McGuire will share information about Great Blue Heron Provincial Park at the 7 pm, Nov. 19, meeting of Nature Prince Albert.

Multiple Species Management, Nov. 21 (Eastend) 
Attend a multiple species management workshop from 1:30-5:30 pm as well as a conservation appreciation dinner at 6 pm in Eastend, Nov. 21.

Green Infrastructure Strategy, Nov. 21 (Saskatoon) 
The City of Saskatoon is inviting public input into its green infrastructure strategy from 4-7 pm, Nov. 21, with presentations at 4 and 5:30 pm.

Palaeontological Finds, Nov. 22 (Moose Jaw) 
Ryan McKellar will discuss some of the exciting new discoveries made by Royal Saskatchewan Museum palaentologists this summer at the Moose Jaw Nature Society meeting from 6:30-8:30 pm, Nov. 22.

Saskatoon Freeway, Nov. 26 & 27 (Saskatoon) 
The Saskatoon Freeway Functional Planning Study team is hosting come-and-go public information sessions from 4-8 pm on Nov. 26 and 27. The decisions made at this stage will affect the crossing through the Northeast Swale.

EnviroCollective, Nov. 27 (Regina) 
EnviroCollective Regina is meeting and celebrating its one-year anniversary at 7 pm, Nov. 27.

Surplus: Terrorized into being Consumers, Nov. 27 (Regina) 
Surplus, a film about consumerism, will be shown at 6:30 pm, Nov. 27, in Regina.

50th Birthday Party, Nov. 27 (Regina) 
Everyone is welcome at SaskOutdoors’ come-and-go 50th birthday party at 5 pm, Nov. 27.

Beginner Bird Id, Nov. 27 (Saskatoon) 
The Saskatchewan Breeding Bird Atlas is hosting a free bird identification workshop from 7-9 pm, Nov. 27.

Conservation Priorities, Nov. 28 (Lumsden) 
The Lumsden Valley Community Association is hosting a talk on Conservation Priorities in Southern Saskatchewan: a Nature Conservancy of Canada Perspective at 7 pm, Nov. 28, in the Lumsden High School band room (adults $2, students free).

Global Climate Strike, Nov. 29 (Regina, Saskatoon) 
There will be global climate strikes in both Regina (10:30 am-1:30 pm) and Saskatoon (12-2 pm) on Nov. 29.

cold sunrise

Looking Ahead
Youth Forum, Nov. 30 (Regina) 
EnviroCollective, in conjunction with RPIRG and the David Suzuki Foundation, is hosting a youth community forum on Regina's energy future from 1-4 pm, Nov. 30. Free but register to attend.

Winter Wildlife Tracking, Dec. 1 (Saskatoon) 
Learn to identify animal tracks in the Small Swale from 2-4 pm, Dec. 1.

SaskOutdoors Winter Camp, Dec. 14-15 (PANP) 
Join SaskOutdoors for their annual winter camp, Dec. 14-15.

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

In the News 
Climate Justice Saskatoon is urging Saskatoon residents to contact their City Councillor and Council prior to budget deliberations Nov. 25-27 to show support for funding the City’s Low Emissions Community Plan.

Students and researchers at the University of Regina have mapped 14,958 oil and gas industry spills between 2000 and 2018.

Opposing ill-advised [infrastructure] projects is not at all ‘anti-development’ but rather pro-smart development. All nations have finite assets available for construction and maintenance of infrastructure.”

The myths surrounding waste reduction – the circular economy, consumer responsibility, market efficiency, technical solutions.

BC leads the way with climate change legislation that could serve as a blueprint for the federal government.

“A good zoo should have an absolute focus on animal welfare, on conservation and be absolutely focusing on their own environmental sustainability practices.”

Opponents of light pollution in the Netherlands are urging government agencies and companies to turn off the lights so people can rediscover the beauty of darkness.

This office building can be dismantled, creating no waste as its components and materials can be reused.

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, 17 November 2019

Claire Bullaro: Zoos are for Education

As a child growing up in Philadelphia, Claire Bullaro was always interested in animals and had lots of pets. “Our family had hamsters, dogs, fish, and budgies, but the snake was mine alone.” One of her fondest memories is of entering a competition on the radio and winning a free entry to the Philadelphia Zoo. Claire’s love of animals and zoos has remained a constant throughout her life. Claire’s husband shared her interest in animals and, whenever the family travelled, they would visit the local zoo.

Claire’s interest in zoos extends beyond personal interest. With a Bachelor’s degree in Biology and a Master’s degree in Zoology, she has always been keenly interested in education and conservation. “Zoos should be for educating people about animals,” she explains. “Otherwise you’re just torturing animals for human entertainment when they could be in the wild.”

Saskatoon Zoo Society 
Shortly after Claire and her family moved to Saskatoon, the local zoo, which had been very small, obtained all the animals from the Golden Gate Animal Farm when it closed. Claire heard that some local people were planning to start a non-profit zoo society. Claire’s husband joined the board initially but Claire soon followed once their children were a bit older. She has been on the board almost non-stop for the past 40 years and has served as president three times.

The Saskatoon Zoo Society’s role has evolved over the years as has its relationship with the zoo’s management team. In the early days, the Society wasn’t very active. The volunteers would meet with classes and youth groups and share information about the zoo animals. “We had no facility,” Claire explains. “We would meet up in the parking lot and take them on a tour of the zoo.” Jerry Haigh, a wildlife vet who had worked in Africa, was another of the volunteers and he was able to provide some artifacts to help stimulate discussion.

In the mid-1980s, a change in management led to a much more active role for the Saskatoon Zoo Society. Management asked the Zoo Society to start up a gift shop and food concession and Society members could enter the zoo for free. The City also provided some funding for educational programs.

With an annual budget of $400-500,000, the Society was in a position to hire staff and expand their educational program. They hired three educators, all with teaching degrees. The current educators have all been with the Zoo Society for over 20 years. “They’re terrific,” Claire says. “They’re amazing with the kids and full of ideas. I just wish we had enough money to pay them based on their education and years of experience.”

The Zoo Society’s educational programming has proven to be extremely popular. “When word gets out that someone will take you on a tour and talk about things, the requests start accumulating,” Claire says. Some programs, such as the summer camps, are fully booked on the first day of registration. Claire is delighted with the response. “I love the idea of educating people,” she says. “Reaching kids is really important and often they pass the information along to adults.”

Claire’s Dream Zoo
Claire’s many years of experience have left her with a clear idea of what she would like to see in a zoo. Rather than trying to house as many exotic species as possible, Claire believes the emphasis should be on local animals. “We had a group of kids visit the zoo. They lived on a reserve, but they had never seen a live moose,” Claire says. “There are city kids who’ve never seen pronghorn, or great-horned owls, or eagles. The grasslands of the Great Plains are the most degraded habitat in North America. This is something you can teach people about in a zoo.”

Good signage, Claire believes, is key. “You need to do more than display the name of the animal,” Claire says. “You want to give visitors a sense of what the animals is like in its real habitat, how it interacts with other animals, and its importance to the ecosystem.” She uses prairie dogs as an example, noting that by eating the local grasses they help to reseed the prairies and their tunnels provide a home and shelter for snakes, burrowing owls, and black-footed ferrets (now extinct in Saskatchewan). Comparisons with animals that live in similar ecosystems are also valuable. “It would be cool to compare dingoes with coyotes,” Claire says.

The Zoo Society’s current educational program extends from pre-school to high school. In a dream zoo, Claire would like to see weekend and adult programming added to the mix. A group of educational animals that were used to being handled and didn’t need to be in quarantine would be extremely valuable so that children could actually see and interact with the animals.

Ideally, the educational animals would include one or two examples each of birds, reptiles, insects, and mammals. “It would be important to go beyond animals that children can see in a pet store,” Claire says. “It would be wonderful to have Saskatchewan species, such as a skunk, a burrowing owl, and a raptor.”

Claire’s dream zoo would not only talk about conservation, it would also undertake conservation projects, similar to the work being done at other zoos to help restore black-footed ferrets, swift fox, and amphibians to the wild.

Giving Back to Her Community 
Claire Bullaro’s activities extend beyond the Saskatoon Zoo Society. She is also on the board of Living Sky Wildlife Rehabilitation, Saskatoon Parrot Rescue, Friends of the Forestry Farm House, and the Saskatoon Heritage Society – not to mention maintaining the Saskatoon Nature Society’s mailing list and membership in a church committee.

Photo Credits: with parrot, Claire Bullaro; group photos, Greg Fenty

Further Information 
Zoos in the 21st Century
Profile of Saskatoon Zoo Society, 2011

Tuesday, 12 November 2019

EcoSask News, November 12, 2019

sunrise on the railway bridge

Upcoming Events
Wild Pigs, Nov. 13 (Val Marie)
Ryan Brook will present his current research on wild boars at 7 pm, Nov. 13, in Val Marie.

Guardians of the Grasslands, Nov. 14/19 (Regina, Saskatoon)
Attend a free screening of Guardians of the Grasslands followed by a panel discussion at 7 pm, Nov. 14, in Regina and at 7 pm, Nov. 19, in Saskatoon.

Canada’s Bees, Nov. 18 (Regina)
Cory Sheffield will share how Canada’s diversity of bees prepares for winter at the 7:30 pm, Nov. 18, meeting of Nature Regina.

Municipalities & Climate Change, Nov. 18 (Saskatoon)
As part of a national event, students at the University of Saskatchewan will be participating in a research-a-thon on municipalities and climate change from 11 am-4 pm, Nov. 18.

Making Clothes Last, Nov. 19 (Saskatoon)
Wesley United Church, as part of its Green Parenting series, is offering a workshop entitled Beyond Fast Fashion: A hands-on workshop on making clothes last from 7:30-9 pm, Nov. 19.

Low-Carbon Stories, Nov. 19 (Saskatoon)
Margret Asmuss will discuss what we can learn from five Saskatchewan communities, businesses and farms that work to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions while benefitting their bottom line at 7 pm, Nov. 19.

Prairie Ponds, Nov. 21 (webinar)
There will be a noon-hour webinar on prairie pond abundance and the breeding success of tree swallows on Nov. 21.

Antarctic Icefish, Nov. 21 (Saskatoon)
Brian Eames will discuss his Antarctic icefish expedition at the 7:30 pm, Nov. 21, meeting of the Saskatoon Nature Society.

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

sunrise on the railway bridge

In the News
Mark Dallyn, Healing Haven Wildlife Rescue, questions why the provincial government has issued a moratorium on large animal rehabilitation.

The Citizens Environmental Alliance wants to make agricultural drainage more environmentally friendly.

Speed kills – and yet Saskatoon’s drivers and city councilors want to raise the speed limit on a road running through the ecologically-sensitive Northeast Swale.

Saskatoon’s Innovation Place is encouraging its tenants to compost organic waste.

Changing climate patterns are as important as habitat loss for birds on the Canadian Prairies, while aquatic insects are more sensitive to land use and water chemistry.

Is green housing really green when you take into consideration the cost of manufacturing and transporting construction materials and fixtures?

Five alternate economic models – from rewarding institutions that benefit the common good to reducing consumerism.

Oil industry lobbyists are developing close, long-term relationships with federal bureaucrats – and conducting 5 times more lobbying than environmental organizations.

Sweden is using storytelling to help the public understand what a sustainable future could look like.

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).