Sunday, 21 October 2018

Wildlife, Land, and People


It’s a hefty tome, but we’re intrigued by the premise behind Donald G. Wetherell’s book, Wildlife, Land, and People: A Century of Change in Prairie Canada. The book examines the relationships people have had with wild animals on the Canadian prairies between 1870 and 1960. 

Here are just a few excerpts from the Introduction. If you’re interested in environmental history and the changing, complex relationships between humans and non-humans, you can order the book from your library or bookstore. 

“Aboriginal economies and the fur trade had depended on wild animals, but the new prairie farm economy had no such long-term needs. Indeed, its success was predicated upon changes in regional fauna and flora. . . . In part this reflected that most Euro-Canadian settlers did not see wild animals as having intrinsic values, nor did they see any personal gain to be derived from accommodating the region’s existing natural systems.”

“An equally important impact of agriculture was the change that it brought to the land. Whatever the number of wild animals killed, the greatest overall change in animal populations and distribution came because of habitat change. Clearing and breaking the land and dedicating every available acre of land to production devastated the habitat of some species while inadvertently creating new niches for others.”

“Legislation about wildlife was important well beyond its enforcement for it created and shaped standards for public encounters with wildlife and asserted the state’s legal authority over all wild animals. This legislation also validated certain patterns of behaviour towards wild animals, explicitly and implicitly promoted assumptions about the value of individual species, and sustained particular social and political relationships with them, including their treatment as natural resources to be exploited and managed for long-term productivity.”

“Keeping wild animals as pets, watching them in national parks or zoos, visiting museums, and participating in natural history outings and meetings often validated human dominance and use of the natural world. But it is equally evident that, for some people, such activities reflected their curiosity and fascination with wild animals and that watching, studying, and interacting with them revealed the magic of life and provided a connection to the world.”

“Bison, for example, only became nostalgic symbols of the prairie past when they had been confined to zoos and parks and no longer challenged Euro-Canadian agricultural settlement.”

“The history of people’s relationships with wild animals on the Canadian prairies can help us understand that while these relationships have often been sorry ones, more sensitive and respectful models and attitudes have been present all along and can be drawn upon to inform our ongoing interaction with the natural world.”

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

EcoSask News, October 16, 2018

Mallard duck (female)

Upcoming Events
Smarter Science, Better Buildings, Oct. 15-Nov. 12 (Yorkton) 
Grade 7 students in Yorkton can visit the Smarter Science, Better Buildings exhibit at the Western Development Museum from Oct. 15-Nov. 12.

Let’s Make Regina 100% Renewable, Oct. 16 (Regina) 
Regina's Blue Dot Movement and some of Regina's City Councillors are hosting a panel discussion on making Regina 100% renewable by 2050 from 7-8:30 pm, Oct. 16.

Car Seat Recycling, Oct. 17 (Regina & Saskatoon) 
Take advantage of a one-month pilot project to recycle infant seats, convertible seats, and booster seats in Regina and Saskatoon starting Oct. 17.

Nature Immersion Walks, Oct. 18 & 19 (Saskatoon) 
Participate in a nature immersion walk from 1-3 pm, Oct. 18 or from 1-3 pm, Oct.19.

Sustainability on Campus, Oct. 19 (Saskatoon) 
Join the U of S Office of Sustainability from 12-1 pm or over a pint at 5 pm, every third Friday of the month.

Repair Cafés, Oct. 20 (Prince Albert & Saskatoon)
Bring your broken things to be mended at Repair Cafés in Prince Albert and Saskatoon:
     Prince Albert - 1-4 pm
     Saskatoon - 10 am-4 pm

Mallard duck

Seed Saving Workshop, Oct. 23 (Prince Albert) 
Join the Prince Albert Permaculture Guild at 7 pm, Oct. 23, as they package seeds for the Prince Albert Seed Library.

Nature and Me, Oct. 24 (Regina) 
Join Nature Conservancy of Canada at 7 pm, Oct. 24, for a discussion about our complicated relationship with nature and how it stands to impact our future. Obtain a 40% reduction when you register with the promo code NCCFRIENDS.

Standing Rock, Oct. 24 (Regina) 
Cinema Politica Regina is showing two films about Standing Rock at 6:30 pm, Oct. 24.

Sustainability Lunch & Learn, Oct. 24 (Regina) 
Learn about the City of Regina’s recycling and waste reduction/diversion plans at a lunch & learn at Innovation Place at 12 pm, Oct. 24.

Hallowe’en Nature Program, Oct. 27 (Regina)
Kids will enjoy meeting live animals and making spooky discoveries at the Wascana Spooktacular, 12-3 pm, Oct. 27.

Dark Skies at the Creek, Oct. 27 (Saskatoon) 
Celebrate International Bat Week at the Beaver Creek Conservation Area from 12-5 pm and from 6:30-11 pm, Oct. 27. Meet some nocturnal animals and view the night sky. Book your spot now for the evening event as registration is limited.

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

Birds of Saskatchewan 
Birds of Saskatchewan by Alan R. Smith, Stuart C. Houston, and J. Frank Roy is now available from Nature Saskatchewan. The 800-page, full-colour book provides a comprehensive compendium of Saskatchewan’s birds. Receive a discount by purchasing before December 15.

In the News 
Cowessess First Nation solar and wind power site is expected to generate up to 400 kilowatts of renewable energy

Differing opinions on the cause of Quill Lakes flooding are delaying a solution

Canada should prioritize land conservation in high-priority regions (as illustrated) and promote connectivity

New technologies make it easier to reduce energy demand at peak times

Dismantling buildings piece by piece to preserve the reusable parts keeps materials out of landfills and creates more jobs than demolition 

Reduction of hydrofluorocarbons could buy us time until carbon emissions are brought under control

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, 11 October 2018

See The World Through My Eyes

Bald eagle

Spiders with 8 eyes, eagles that can focus on two objects simultaneously – no two animals see the same thing. Here are just a few examples.

Bald Eagles
Talk about eyes in the back of your head! Eagles can focus on objects in front and beside them at the same time thanks to having two centres of focus. Their eyes are four times as sharp as human eyes. From a fixed position at 1,000 feet above the ground, they can spot prey in an area just under 8 km squared. An inner eyelid, called a nictitating membrane, slides across their eye every few seconds to wipe away dust or dirt.

Tawny Owl

Butterflies & Moths
Some butterflies and moths have colourful patches on their wings that resemble eyes. Scientists speculate that they are used to frighten or distract potential predators. Owl butterfly have a bad reputation for getting drunk on fermented fruit.


Fiddler crabs have almost-perfect all-round vision but, because their eyes don’t move, they use different parts of their eyes in different ways. Their sharpest vision is immediately in front of them and is used to identify and communicate with potential mates. Their overhead vision is limited to perceiving light and dark but is more than adequate for recognizing a seagull swooping down from the sky.


Damselflies & Dragonflies
Huge eyes take up most of the space on dragonflies’ and damselflies’ heads. By piecing together images from their 20-30,000 individual lenses, they can see what’s happening all around them, essential for locating and capturing prey while hovering in mid-air. They also have 3 simple eyes on their forehead that can detect light intensity.


Fish can’t close their eyes as they don’t have eyelids. Some have transparent nictitating membranes they can pull down to protect their eyes, while others have light-activated pigments in their eyes that turn darker when exposed to a bright light.

Bull frog

Frogs & Toads
Now this is amazing! Have you noticed that frogs and toads shut their eyes when eating? Their eyes actually move backwards, helping the tongue to push food down their throat.

Barred owl (?)

Owls’ eyes are shaped like tubes rather than spheres and are fixed in place, but they can turn their necks up to 135 degrees in either direction. A large retina and an abundance of rods ensure that owls can take advantage of whatever light is available at night. The rod cells are connected differently than human rod cells so they’re able to pick up edges, movement, and silhouettes in dim light.


Pronghorn have large eyes (36 mm in diameter) near the back of their head. They can spot movement up to 6.5 km away and can view objects within a 300-degree arc without moving their head or eyes.

Fishing spider

Most spiders have 8 eyes, but they’re not always arranged in the same way. For example, fishing spiders have 2 rows of 4 eyes, while wolf spiders have 3 rows of eyes (4-2-2). “Daylight hunting spiders use their two pairs of ‘side’ eyes to detect the motion of their prey. The spider then uses the two most central eyes to focus on their prey. The pair of eyes next to these are used for depth perception. When the target is close enough, these eyes let the spider know when to strike.”

Tuesday, 9 October 2018

EcoSask News, October 9, 2018

fall color

Upcoming Events
Spread of Feral Swine, Oct. 12 (Saskatoon) 
The WildEcol seminar series is held at 3:30 pm, every other Friday, on the U of S campus:
Oct. 12 – Tracking the spread of feral swine across Canada

Basic Wilderness First Aid, Oct. 13 &14 (Saskatoon) 
Back 40 Wilderness First Aid Training is offering an overnight camp and basic wilderness first aid course on Oct. 13 & 14 near Saskatoon.

Wasted, Oct. 15 (Regina) 
Watch Wasted: The Story of Food Waste at 7 pm, Oct. 15, in Regina.

Gender & Climate Change, Oct. 15 (Regina)
Dr. Amber Fletcher, University of Regina, will explore how women and men are affected by climate disaster and how paying attention to gender can help strengthen our resilience to future climate events at the 7:30 pm, Oct. 15, meeting of Nature Regina.

Compost in your own Backyard, Oct. 16 (Prince Albert) 
Learn how to compost in your own backyard at 7 pm, Oct. 16, at the John M. Cuelenaere Library, Prince Albert.

Prairie Bats & White-Nose Syndrome, Oct. 17 (Moose Jaw) 
U of S Professor Vikram Misra will speak on prairie bats and white-nose syndrome at the 6:30 pm, Oct. 17, meeting of the Moose Jaw Nature Society.

Starlight at Sunrise, Oct. 17 (Regina) 
Explore the universe with the Royal Astronomical Society from 7-8:30 pm at the Sunrise Branch, Regina Public Library.

Patagonia Conservation Land Trust, Oct. 18 (Saskatoon) 
Leslie Tuchek will discuss Douglas Tompkins' work in establishing a sustainable land trust in Argentina and Chile at the 7:30 pm, Oct. 18, meeting of the Saskatoon Nature Society.

Build Sask Green 2018 , Oct. 18 (Saskatoon) 
The Build Sask Green conference will be held in Saskatoon on Oct. 18 and will include sessions on zero carbon building standards and applications.

fallen leaves

Looking Ahead
Nature Playcare, Oct. 26-Nov. 30 (Saskatoon) 
Wildernook Fresh Air Learning is hosting Nature Playcare for 3-4 year olds from 1:30-3:30 pm, Friday afternoons from Oct. 26 to Nov. 30. Children should come dressed for the weather ready to immerse themselves in play-based learning in a natural environment.

Smarter Science, Better Buildings, Nov. 13-16 (Prince Albert)
Grade 7 classes and the public are invited to visit the Smarter Science, Better Buildings exhibit in Prince Albert City Hall’s foyer from Nov. 13-16.

Project Wild, Oct. 28 (Saskatoon)
Join SaskOutdoors for a Project Wild workshop on Oct. 28 in Saskatoon.

Saskatoon Nature Society Field Trips
Golden Eagles 
Oct. 18, 9 am – Goose Migration south of Delisle
Retirees and partners who are interested in birds and the natural world are invited to participate.

Other Saskatoon Nature Society Field Trips 
Oct. 28, 1-5 pm, Blackstrap Lake Birding & Fall Supper
Nov. 3, 9-10:30 am – Sanatorium Site Bird Walk
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 

In the News
Saskatchewan's native prairies are under threat and disappearing rapidly

SaskPower introduces new customer-generated power options

Dozens of wildlife crossings will restore connectivity in the Cascades

Meet 6 amazing women who are speaking out on climate science and policy

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, 2 October 2018

EcoSask News, October 2, 2018


Upcoming Events
Bees & Pathogens, Oct. 9 (webinar)
Kirsten Palmier, MSc candidate at the U of R, will discuss bees and pathogens in a noon-hour webinar on Oct. 9.

Campus Sustainability Week, Oct. 9-12 (Saskatoon)
The U of S Office of Sustainability has a whole range of activities (art, food, cycling, waste, and more) planned for Campus Sustainability Week, Oct. 9-12.

Waste & Recycling, Oct. 10 (Regina)
Learn what happens to waste and recycling from 7-8 pm, Regina Central Adult Public Library.

Library of Things Fall Meeting, Oct. 11 (Saskatoon)
Find out more about the Library of Things and ways to get involved at their fall meeting and potluck supper at 6 pm, Oct. 11.

Wascana Waterfowl, Oct. 13 (Regina)
Join Regina Nature for a field trip to Wascana Marsh and Lake from 9-11 am, Oct. 13.

Falcons, Oct. 14 (Saskatoon)
Wild Birds Unlimited is hosting a trip to observe falcons catching their food. Meet at 3:30 pm, Oct. 14.

Rob Dumont Energy Management Awards Dinner, Oct. 15 (Saskatoon)
The 2018 Rob Dumont Energy Management Awards Dinner will be held on Oct. 15. Tickets are available on Picatic.


Looking Ahead
Just Transitions: Building Saskatchewan’s Next Economy, Oct. 27 & 28 (Regina)
Attend Just Transitions in Regina Oct. 27 & 28 to discuss the possibilities and pathways for transitioning Saskatchewan's economy to renewable energies.

Teaching Energy Transitions, Oct. 28 (Regina)
The teacher-focused breakout group will discuss possible frameworks for teaching about a just transition using the Saskatchewan curriculum from 1-2 pm, Oct. 28, during the Just Transitions conference.

Building Enclosures for High Performance Buildings, Nov. 15 (Saskatoon)
Building Enclosures for High Performance Buildings is a one-day course offered by Passive House Canada on Nov. 15.

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

In the News
The City of Saskatoon's Green Strategy is long overdue, but action must match policy. It's fine to talk about conserving biodiversity and increasing interconnections, but it falls flat in face of City Council's refusal to lower speed limits through the Small Swale.

The City of Saskatoon has adopted Vision Zero. The challenge now is to make sure it works by designing streets to protect cyclists and pedestrians.

Could we use LED lights to avoid bird collisions with planes, buildings, etc?

“Ultimately, bringing our civilization back within planetary boundaries is going to require that we liberate ourselves from our dependence on economic growth—starting with rich nations. This might sound scarier than it really is. Ending growth doesn’t mean shutting down economic activity—it simply means that next year we can’t produce and consume more than we are doing this year. It might also mean shrinking certain sectors that are particularly damaging to our ecology and that are unnecessary for human flourishing, such as advertising, commuting, and single-use products.”

And, for the techies in the crowd, how and why to build a low-tech website.

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, 27 September 2018

Using the Law to Protect the Environment


Environmental groups are increasingly turning to the law to protect nature and wildlife. Their initiatives range from sharing information to setting standards, taking issues to court, and granting nature legal rights.

Sharing Information
The Environmental Law Centre in Edmonton provides advice and education on environmental issues. They help community groups understand and use legal tools and work with government policy-makers to create better decision-making processes. In 2017, they published A Road Map for Environmental Rights in Alberta: Rights for a Sustainable Future. The publication recommends an environmental bill of rights that will legally strengthen environmental accountability by promoting meaningful participation in environmental decision-making, providing citizens with enforcement tools, and ensuring oversight of reviews, laws, and administration.

A group of Saskatchewan lawyers, students, and members of the public have recently established SKAEL – the Saskatchewan Association for Environmental Law. Their goal is to raise awareness about environmental issues and laws, build legal and advocacy skills, and push for strong and effective environmental laws in Saskatchewan. The group invites people to get involved, collaborate with them on projects, forward legal inquiries, and spread the word. SKAEL has a website and is also on Facebook and Twitter.

Swainson's hawk

Setting Standards
The law can be used to establish administrative policies, standards, and regulations. These vary considerably in both breadth and impact. The Environmental Law Centre at the University of Victoria, on behalf of Bulkley Valley Naturalists, is asking the provincial government to change its road maintenance policy. “While the existing policy recommends contractors schedule maintenance outside of nesting seasons or take measures to ensure birds are not present and nesting before brushing, it does not go far enough. According to the ELC report, the policy must prohibit roadside brushing during nesting season to remain onside the federal Migratory Birds Convention Act. If that is unavoidable, contractors should have to seek expert advice and action to ensure birds are not present.”

On a far broader scale, the State of Massachusetts has adopted a Clean Energy Bill. It sets a goal of 35% renewables by 2030 and a storage target goal of 1,000 MWh. In addition, it establishes a Clean Peak Standard, requiring every retail electric supplier to provide a “minimum percentage of kilowatt-hours sales to end use customers from clean peak resources.”

Court Cases
A number of Canadian non-profits – Ecojustice, West Coast Environmental Law, Canadian Environmental Law Association, East Coast Environmental Law – undertake court cases to protect the environment. Ecojustice “goes to court and uses the power of the law to defend nature, combat climate change, and fight for a healthy environment for all.” West Coast Environmental Law believes “By putting the law in the hands of communities and creating legal risk for those who would harm our land, air and water, we are building the collective power to achieve a more just and sustainable future for all.”

An Ecojustice case in Ontario established that “It is now illegal to kill or injure birds with light reflected from building windows under provincial and federal laws. According to section nine of the Environmental Protection Act, Ontario’s Ministry of the Environment must regulate any building discharging a contaminant that is killing birds. Under SARA, building owners or managers can be convicted under section 32 for the conduct of killing or injuring birds in window strikes.”

A logging project along Yellowstone National Park’s border was halted when the environmental groups “successfully argued that the forest failed to consider the project’s impacts on Canada lynx, which has been listed as a threatened species in the United States since 2000.”

Columbia River wetlands

Granting Nature Legal Rights
Western legal systems and government have traditionally viewed land and water as property. The Chilean Free-Flowing Rivers Network says “the time has come to look at granting legal rights — a form of legal personhood — to the nation’s rivers. . . . corporations are granted the same rights as people while the living ecosystems upon which we depend for survival are not.” In 2017, the government of New Zealand granted the status of legal personhood to the Whanganui River. A committee, including community representatives, will act as legal administrator and the river can now be represented in court proceedings.

A 2018 article in Yale Environment 360 says, “Despite the promise held by establishing legal rights for rivers, difficult questions remain. What does it mean for a river to have the rights of a person? Does a river have the right to flow freely, and does this mean its waters can’t be dammed or diverted? Is compensation to affected communities permissible in lieu of court orders requiring removal of large obstructions like dams? What can we do to move beyond merely acknowledging humanity’s connection to rivers to actually saving them? And, finally, and perhaps most important, how should a legal regime determine who will advocate on behalf of a river, which lacks a voice of its own?”

The Earth Law Centre believes “nature should be able to defend its rights in court, just like people can.” Earth Law views humans as co-equal partners with other Earth members. All members should have “the right to be, the right to habitat and the right to fulfill its role in the ever-renewing processes of the Earth community. As co-equal members, humans ‘have no right to prevent other components of the Earth community from fulfilling their evolutionary role’.”

A lawyer in the United Kingdom launched Mission Lifeforce in 2017. The Mission wants to add ecocide to the list of international crimes. They define ecocide as “serious loss, damage or destruction of ecosystems, and includes climate or cultural damage as well as direct ecological damage.” If they were successful, CEOs and government ministers could be held criminally responsible for serious damage to the environment.

Tuesday, 25 September 2018

EcoSask News, September 25, 2018

Great blue heron

Upcoming Events
Climate Change, Sept. 27 (Prince Albert)
Dave Stevenson will give a presentation on climate change at 7 pm, Sept. 27, as part of National Forest Week activities in Prince Albert.

Wild Ecol Seminar Series, Sept. 28 (Saskatoon)
The WildEcol seminar series is held at 3:30 pm, every other Friday, on the U of S campus:
Sept. 28 – Large mammal distribution and conservation in Brazil

Epic, Sept. 29 (Prince Albert)
Enjoy the film Epic at 2:30 pm, Sept. 29, as part of National Forest Week activities in Prince Albert.

Household Hazardous Waste Day, Sept. 29 (Regina)
City of Regina is holding a Household Hazardous Waste Day from 9 am-3:45 pm, Sept. 29.

Regina Beach/Last Mountain Lake Migration, Sept. 29 (Regina)
Join Nature Regina for a field trip to Regina Beach and Last Mountain Lake from 9 am-1:30 pm, Sept. 29.

Waste & Recycling Town Hall, Oct. 2 (Regina)
Councillor Andrew Stevens will be holding a town hall to discuss waste and recycling programs at 7 pm, Oct. 2 in the Cathedral Community Centre.

Nature Play Workshop, Oct. 2 (Saskatoon)
SaskOutdoors is offering a nature play workshop for early years educators in Saskatoon from 1-3 pm, Oct. 2.

Pathway to PACE in Alberta, Oct. 3 (Saskatoon)
Brian Scott will discuss PACE Alberta at the Oct. 3 breakfast meeting of SK Energy Management Task Force.

NatureCity Festival Celebration & Planning Kick-off, Oct. 4 (Saskatoon)
Join Wild About Saskatoon from 7-9 pm, Oct. 4, as they begin planning the 2019 NatureCity Festival.

Saskatoon Nature Society Field Trips
Golden Eagles
Oct. 4, 9 am – Whooping Cranes
Oct. 11, 9 am – Fall Migration
Retirees and partners who are interested in birds and the natural world are invited to participate.
Other Saskatoon Nature Society Field Trips 
Oct. 6, 8 am-5 pm – Whooping Crane Field Trip
Oct. 8, 9:30-11:30 am – Woodlawn Cemetery Bird Walk
Oct. 13, 1:30-3:30 pm – Invasive Shrub Removal from Saskatoon Natural Grasslands
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 

In the News
The Waste Reduction Council of Saskatchewan is holding a pilot car seat recycling project in Regina and Saskatoon from mid-October to mid-November. Sign up to participate.

Congratulations, Wild About Saskatoon, on receiving a Tourism Saskatoon leadership award for your ongoing success with the NatureCity Festival. 3,000 people participated in events hosted by 50 organizations during the 2018 Festival.

The Insurance Bureau of Canada is calling on municipalities to reduce flood risk through conservation and restoration of natural infrastructure (ponds, wetlands).

Audio tours invite New Yorkers to explore the nighttime lives of the animals whose habitat they share.

A great city needs great facilities for pedestrians. What would a truly walkable city 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).

Tuesday, 18 September 2018

EcoSask News, September 18, 2018

floating autumn leaves

Upcoming Events
Renewable Power, the Intelligent Choice AGM, Sept. 18 (Prince Albert)
There will be a presentation about the upcoming Smarter Science, Better Buildings exhibit at the Sept. 18 annual general meeting of Renewable Power, the Intelligent Choice.

Sustainability on Campus, Sept. 21 (Saskatoon)
Join the U of S Office of Sustainability from 12-1 pm or over a pint at 5 pm, every third Friday of the month.

Fall Hike, Sept. 22 (Moose Jaw) 
Join the Moose Jaw Nature Society on a fall hike starting at 10 am, Sept. 22.

Science Experiments for Kids, Sept. 22 (Regina)
Kids ages 7-12 can participate in some fun science experiments from 1-2 pm, Sept. 22, at the Albert Branch, Regina Public Library.

Carbonless Concert, Sept. 22 (Saskatoon)
Enjoy solar-powered live music from 6:30-9 pm at the Sept. 22 Carbonless Concert.

Fall Composting for Beginners, Sept. 23 (Regina)
Learn about composting in winter from 2-3 pm, Sept. 23, at the Sunrise Branch, Regina Public Library.

Autumn Plant Walk, Sept. 23 (Regina)
Join Edible Landscapes Permaculture Design on Sept. 23 to learn about edible and medicinal plants in the Regina area.

World Rivers Day, Sept. 23 (Saskatoon) 
Celebrate World Rivers Day from 12-5 pm, Sept. 23, at Beaver Creek Conservation Area - from tiger salamanders to oceans.

Beaver Creek Riparian Tour, Sept. 23 (Saskatoon)
Find out how to protect streams and creeks from 3:30-4:30 pm, Sept. 23.

Man of the Trees, Sept. 25 (North Battleford)
Paul Hanley will read from Man of the Trees: Richard St. Barbe Baker, the First Global Environmentalist from 7-8 pm, Sept. 25, in North Battleford.

Is NAFTA Locking in a High-Carbon Future? Sept. 25 (Prince Albert)
Find out how the North American Free Trade Agreement regulates oil and gas exports and how it could impact transitioning to a low-carbon future at 7 pm, Sept. 25.

floating autumn leaves

Grassland Songbirds in Qu’Appelle Valley, Sept. 25 (webinar)
A noon-hour webinar on Sept. 25 will discuss songbird conservation efforts and the Qu’Appelle Valley as a focal area for conservation.

Discover the “Sci” in “Sci-Fi”, Sept. 25 (Saskatoon)
Learn the factual basis for fictional aliens and predatory horrors of the insect world at Café Scientifique Saskatoon, 7:30 pm, Sept. 25.

To the Ends of the Earth, Sept. 26 (Regina)
Cinema Politica Regina is screening To the Ends of the Earth about the extreme frontiers of oil and gas exploration at 6:30 pm, Sept. 26.

Richard St. Barbe Baker Presentation, Sept. 26 (Saskatoon)
Celebrate National Tree Day at the Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area with a reading by Paul Hanley from his latest book, Man of the Trees, at 6 pm, Sept. 26.

Nature Grandparenting Autumn Meetup, Sept. 26
Grandpairs are invited to attend the following autumn meetups: Sept. 26, 10 am & 1:30 pm – the Northeast Swale (Evergreen)

U of S Riverbank Clean-Up, Sept. 26 (Saskatoon)
Join the U of S Office of Sustainability, USSU, and Environment and Bioresources Students Association in a clean-up along the Meewasin River Valley from 12-4 pm, Sept. 26.

Man of the Trees, Sept. 27 (Biggar)
Paul Hanley will read from Man of the Trees: Richard St. Barbe Baker, the First Global Environmentalist from 7-8 pm, Sept. 27, in Biggar.

Invasive Species, Sept. 27 (Regina)
Tara Sample will discuss invasive species at the 7 pm, Sept. 27, meeting of the Regina Horticultural Society.

Going Zero Waste, Sept. 27 (Regina)
Learn about going zero waste from 7-8:30 pm, Sept. 27, at the George Bothwell Branch, Regina Public Library.

Nature & Waste Reduction Art, Sept. 27/30 (Saskatoon)
Join Medha Bhatt Ganguly for a talk on nature and waste reduction art at Mayfair Library from 2-3 pm, Sept. 27, or visit her art exhibit from 1-5 pm, Sept. 30, at Confederation Mall.

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

underwater autumn leaves

In the News
70% of Americans think environmental protection is more important than economic growth - the problem is getting governments and businesses to act on what people want.

China's ban on imported recyclables is forcing Canada to confront uncomfortable truths about where and how we manage our waste.

Edmonton has ordered 25 electric buses.

PEI farmers are being paid to delay their first cut of hay to protect birds.

These award-winning comedy wildlife photographs are sure to make you laugh! 

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, 13 September 2018

Wildlife Vet in the Making

Last year, Morgan Reschny made what she describes as a “terrifying career change.” She discontinued her studies in archaeology and history to follow her lifelong dream of becoming a veterinarian. To support this goal, she started volunteering and then working at Living Sky Wildlife Rehabilitation in Saskatoon. Here’s her account of her summer work experience.

Why did you choose to work/volunteer at Living Sky? 
I knew the more animal experience I had the better, and I had been following Living Sky on social media for years, daydreaming about having enough time to volunteer with them. I was drawn to working with wildlife because I have a deep respect for the natural world and I felt working with animals who were far from socialized and cooperative would be very good handling experience for me. Not even a month after deciding to pursue Vet. Med. I met Jan for my volunteer orientation and by the time April came around I was being interviewed for their summer student positions.

What were your first impressions of Living Sky?
Like most members of the public, I thought Living Sky was some sort of official establishment, like the Forestry Farm or the SPCA. When I realized that Living Sky doesn't get government funding and was simply the hobby of its founder, Jan Shadick, I was completely blown away at how much passion had been poured into that place. Here we have an entire house, with a huge yard full of aviaries and mammal pens, with an exam room stuffed with medical supplies and medicine, and it was entirely funded by Jan and whatever people happened to give us out of charity. It definitely felt weird seeing how hard Jan worked for free while I was getting paid from the student grants she received from the university.

We're hungry!

What were you asked to do? 
Oh boy, I won't be able to go into everything I did at Living Sky without writing several pages. My official job title was Assistant Wildlife Rehabilitator. While Jan ran around doing the more advanced tasks and answering calls, I, along with several other students, did everything from feeding babies, to washing wounds, to doing laundry and dishes.

Baby birds need to be fed every thirty to sixty minutes. In June this meant you were trapped in an endless cycle of feeding countless cheeping mouths as fast as possible. Baby mammals were fed every few hours, but they needed to be fed overnight too. There were a few times when I had to take a family of baby squirrels home to syringe feed through the night.

Probably the most challenging thing for me was doing intakes. This was when a new animal would come in and we'd have to assess it to determine its treatment. A lot of these animals were terrified and scared. Some of them were in pain and suffering, and a lot of them I had never experienced before so I wasn't confident in knowing what to look for. Over the summer I got much better, even with new birds. I felt more comfortable examining them and if I couldn't identify what exactly was wrong either Jan or one of the more experienced students were nearby to help me.

What has been your most memorable experience at Living Sky?
There are so many of those – it’s hard to pick. On my very first morning working at Living Sky Jan told us that she had a surprise for us later in the day. The only clue Jan gave us was that it was a mammal they had never had before, so we spent the morning guessing what cool new critter had come in. Those who had been at Living Sky for a long time immediately ruled out a bear, but lo and behold when Jan sat us down, made us promise to not even breathe too loudly, and unwrapped her bundle of blankets, there was a tiny little three-month-old black bear cub.

I think everyone in that room was surprised. I hadn't ever expected to be able to sit so close and watch such a small bear cub like that ever, let alone on my first day working at a rehab. facility. The cub only spent a few days with us before he was transported to a rehab. out in Meadow Lake that helps bears [Healing Haven Wildlife Rescue]. I don't think it would've been long before that fuzzy toddler outgrew our residential house and yard.

Twisty the Crow

What is the funniest thing you observed this summer? 
There were a lot of quirky characters that came in this summer; crows especially are very funny birds. However, there is one specific patient that comes to mind, a Canada goose that we called Gary. Gary was found hanging out by the University Bridge unable to fly and limping fairly badly, so we guessed he had gotten knocked by a car. Since he couldn't fly we let him roam around the backyard during the day, but he definitely let us know when it was time to put him to bed in his aviary.

As dusk came you would see him wander closer and closer to the back door of the house and by 8 pm, like clockwork, he would literally kick open the screen door and let himself inside. There were times I'd be feeding birds in one of our rooms and I'd suddenly hear a crash and a bang and see a Canada goose sprinting past the door frame. The sound of his webbed feet slapping the hardwood floor so fast is one that will always make me laugh. He'd hang out until one of us had a spare moment to tuck him in for the night.

Do you plan to continue volunteering with Living Sky? Why?
Absolutely. And I have been already despite it not even being a week since my last shift. Part of it is that I still want to continue learning more about wildlife for vet. school, but I have also become very emotionally invested in that place. You spend so much time and energy looking after these birds; you root for them and want them to get better. Even on my days off, when I wouldn't come in for two days, I'd be sitting at home worrying about them. Now that it's migration season there are still plenty of birds that need help and I feel both obligated and privileged to be able to give that to them. 

What would you like people to know about (injured) wildlife and Living Sky? 
If any of what I have said has seemed exciting or appealing to you, you can come and experience it for yourself. Living Sky runs entirely on charity and volunteers. The student grants only pay for me and a few others to be there for the summer. Every year we take on more animals, which means we need more resources. This includes interns and volunteers for next summer.

You don't need to be a nature hobbyist or know much about birds. I was a clueless archaeology kid when I started volunteering there last January. Now that I've come out on the other side with my work for this summer done, my perspective has expanded colossally. You really cannot learn about wildlife and the challenges they face until you have worked with them one on one.

Thanks to Living Sky and a whole lot of fish, Petra is heading south with her fellow pelicans.
Photo credit: Living Sky Wildlife Rehabilitation & Morgan Reschny

Tuesday, 11 September 2018

EcoSask News, September 11, 2018


Upcoming Events
Guided Nature Immersion Walks, Sept. 10 & 14 (Saskatoon)
Participate in a nature immersion walk with Dolores Burkhart on Sept. 10 at 1 pm and Sept. 14 at 10 am.

The State of the Lakes, Sept. 14 (Fort Qu’Appelle)
Dr. Peter Leavitt will present his 25 years of data regarding the Qu’Appelle River Valley Watershed at the Treaty 4 Gathering at 6:30 pm, Sept. 14, in Fort Qu’Appelle.

Wild Ecol Seminar, Sept. 14 (Saskatoon)
The WildEcol seminar series is held at 3:30 pm, every other Friday, on the U of S campus:
Sept. 14 – Ecological factors driving the population biology of King Eiders

No Justice, No Adaptation, Sept. 15 & 16 (Saskatoon)
Suha Jarrar will discuss the politics of climate change in Palestine at 6 pm, Sept. 15,  and at 10:30 am, Sept. 16, in Saskatoon.

Walking Saskatoon, Sept. 16 (Saskatoon)
Everyone is invited to attend Walking Saskatoon’s meeting from 1-3 pm, Sept. 16.

Word on the Street, Sept. 16 (Saskatoon)
Paul Hanley and Trevor Herriot will be reading from their latest books at Word on the Street, Sept. 16.

Saskatchewan Owls, Sept. 17 (Regina)
Kim Mann will talk about Saskatchewan owls at the Nature Regina meeting, 7:30 pm, Sept. 17.

Fruit for the Birds, Sept. 18 (Saskatoon)
Find out which birds love eating fruit and which plants appeal to them the most at 7 pm, Sept. 18, at Wild Birds Unlimited.

Tyzzer’s Disease, Sept. 20 (Saskatoon)
Gary Wobeser will discuss the fascinating history and people in the study of Tyzzer’s disease at the Saskatoon Nature Society meeting, 7:30 pm, Sept. 20.

Looking Ahead
Nature Photography (Regina, Saskatoon)
One way to enjoy and share the beauty of the natural world is through photography. Both the Saskatoon Camera Club and the Regina Photo Club offer a varied program, including field trips.

Star-Gazing (Regina, Saskatoon)
Both the Regina and Saskatoon centres of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada offer a monthly program. Check their websites for program information. Saskatoon also has a youth astronomy club.

Rollin’ It Up, Sept. 22 (Regina)
Help the Nature Conservancy of Canada remove old fencing and install bat houses on their Edenwold property on Sept. 22.

Canoe Certification Course, Sept. 29-30 (Regina)
SaskOutdoors is hosting a Paddle Canada canoe certification course in Regina Sept. 29-30.

Junior Nature Sketch Club, Sept. 29-Nov. 3 (Saskatoon)
Kids ages 5-12 are invited to join Junior Nature Sketch, an outdoor nature program that focuses on sketching and observing wildlife habitats.

Adult Nature Sketch Club, Sept. 29-Nov. 3 (Saskatoon)
Observe and sketch in wildlife habitats as part of the 5-week Adult Nature Sketch program.

Permaculture Design Course, October-April (Regina)
Edible Landscapes Permaculture Design & Consulting is offering a permaculture design certification course over 6 weekends from October to April in Regina. Registration deadline is Sept. 30.

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

In the News
An interview with Passive House pioneer Harold Orr.

Soil is filled with more biological diversity than any other habitat on Earth - here are some of the organisms that keep our soil healthy.

Wildlife corridors aren't a complete solution - generational knowledge isn't easily replaced.

Edward Burtynsky's new book records human changes to the planet.

When traffic-clogged highways are expanded, new drivers quickly materialize to fill them. Here’s how “induced demand” works.

George Monbiot refuses to believe that a better form of consumerism will save the planet.

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, 4 September 2018

EcoSask News, September 4, 2018


Upcoming Events
Renewable Rides, Sept. 5 (Saskatoon)
The Saskatoon CarShare Co-operative and the Saskatchewan Environmental Society are launching their 3rd and 4th 100% solar-powered electric vehicles at 9:30 am, Sept. 5, at the YWCA. The new vehicles will serve the City Park, Downtown, and Riversdale neighbourhoods.

Drive Electric Week, Sept. 8-16 (Regina, Saskatoon, Swift Current)
Drive Electric Week events are being held in Regina, Sept. 8; Swift Current, Sept. 12; and Saskatoon, Sept. 15.

Climate Change in Palestine, Sept. 12 (Regina) 
Suha Jarrar will discuss the politics of climate change in Palestine at 7 pm, Sept. 12, at the University of Regina.

Albatross, Sept. 12 (Saskatoon)
There will be a free screening of Albatross at 7 pm, Sept. 12.The screening is hosted by Ocean Bridge YXE and they’ll be talking about their ocean conservation work in Haida Gwaii and Saskatoon.

Building a Batty Neighbourhood, Sept. 13 (Saskatoon)
Build a bat house and hear Melanie Elliott talk about bats from 7-8:30 pm, Sept. 13.

Environmental Advisory Committee, Sept. 13 (Saskatoon)
The Saskatoon Environmental Advisory Committee is meeting from 11:30 am-1 pm, Sept. 13. The public is welcome to observe.

Nature Saskatchewan Fall Meet, Sept. 14-16 (Swift Current)
Nature Saskatchewan is holding their fall meet in Swift Current from Sept. 14-16. There will be a presentation by Graham Saul, Executive Director, Nature Canada, and Branimir Gjetvaj and Trevor Herriot will present their book, Islands of Grass.

Household Hazardous Waste Day, Sept. 15 (Prince Albert)
You can dispose of household hazardous waste in Prince Albert from 9 am-3 pm, Sept. 15.

Sacred Trees Day Retreat, Sept. 16 (Regina)
Explore your sacred connection with trees at an outdoor retreat on Sept. 16.

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

In the News 
Let's slow down - just a little - to protect world-class grasslands #Saskatoon

Retraining coal miners for the solar industry is a win-win

Environmentally friendly solar installations include bees and native plants

The water crises aren’t coming - they’re here [long read]

Improving air conditioners could do more than anything else to reduce greenhouse gases

The house sparrow’s closeness to humans might have changed its genes, giving it a larger beak and a tolerance for a starchy diet

A newly constructed footbridge on the Englishman River Nature Trails, St. Walburg, will allow walkers to cross this natural drainage area during spring runoff and rainy spells. The trails serve as an all-season outdoor classroom and are much enjoyed by the whole community. Congratulations to Lyle and Brenda Knight who maintain the trails. #EcoFriendlyActionGrant

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 August 2018

Protecting the Things We Love

Lotus flower

“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul alike.” John Muir

We protect – with fences, and laws, and force – the things we value. Yet, far too often, we fail to recognize the value of intangibles – sunlight, ancient forests, open trails, beauty. We either take them for granted or we place a higher value on development, profit, and what we see as progress. But not always. Here are a few examples of cities and countries that are attempting to recognize and protect intangibles.

Right to Light
Visit the downtown core of any large city and you find yourself surrounded by skyscrapers that blot out the sky and shade the streets below. “For cities, shadows present both a technical challenge — one that can be modeled in 3-D and measured in ‘theoretical annual sunlight hours’ lost — and an ethereal one. They change the feel of space and the value of property in ways that are hard to define. They’re a stark reminder that the new growth needed in healthy cities can come at the expense of people already living there. And in some ways, shadows even turn light into another medium of inequality — a resource that can be bought by the wealthy, eclipsed from the poor.”

Some cities are endeavouring to protect sunlight. San Francisco has a “sunlight ordinance” that legislates the review of plans for buildings over 40 feet that might shadow public parks. Toronto’s Tall Buildings Guidelines stipulate that tall buildings must be 25 metres apart. Toronto also takes into consideration “pedestrian comfort” by reviewing the shadows created by proposed buildings, paying particular attention to shadows over public areas such as Nathan Phillip’s Square.

Ancient Trees
There are trees in the United Kingdom that are hundreds, even thousands, of years old. Ancient woodlands are protected by the National Planning Policy Framework, but there is a loophole in the law permitting development to go ahead if "the economic benefit of a development outweighs the loss.” The Woodland Trust is campaigning to close this loophole, so far with no success.

Tourists flock to visit California’s redwoods. But their eagerness to take a selfie next to one of these ancient giants is compacting the soil and damaging the trees’ roots. The Redwood Park Conservancy is fundraising to build raised walkways so that tourists will no longer damage the ground cover and hurt the trees.

big trees

Right to Roam
England has protected its footpaths, granting public access to private land, since 1925. Andrew Weaver, leader of BC’s Green Party has introduced a Right to Roam Act to protect public access to lakes, rivers, and public forests through privately owned land. Weaver says, “The ability to access and experience nature is a public right, and we must protect it. . . . People protect what they know and love. If we become disconnected from our environment we risk disengaging with the fight for its future.”

It may seem quaint, but the City of London safeguards the view of St. Paul’s Cathedral from King Henry’s Mound in Richmond Park. Developers have been forced to alter their plans to protect the viewline.

The City of Vancouver has 27 protected view corridors to maintain views of the North Shore mountains, the ocean, and the city skyline. They do, however, make exceptions, which are not always supported by the general public.


Voting for Nature
In 2014, England’s Wildlife Trusts and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds proposed a nature and wellbeing act that would put nature at the heart of decision-making both locally and nationally and would commit to securing the recovery of nature in a generation. The Blue Dot movement is similar, advocating for legal recognition of every Canadian’s right to a healthy environment.

The proposed laws are examples of “positive environmentalism, setting the agenda, rather than merely responding to the policies we don’t like. We must do both, but while those who love wildlife have often been effective opponents, we have tended to be less effective proponents.”