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Invasive species destroy habitat for endangered species

Local species at risk include the Blanding’s Turtle and the Five-lined Skink (photo by Joe Crowley).

Local species at risk include the Blanding’s Turtle and the Five-lined Skink (photo by Joe Crowley).

By Ross Lees
There are many reasons why a species may be at risk or why an invasive species is threatening local habitat, but most of it involves human encroachment or human error.

Such invading species as purple loosestrife, Giant Hogweed, Dog Strangling vine, Asian Carp, the round goby, zebra mussels, the Emerald ash borer and the Asian long horned beetle were introduced to North America by unthinking humans, said speakers Kate Pitt and Alison Kirkpatrick. The two presented at the Winter Speaker Series for the Hastings Stewardship Council last week.

They explained that invading species are one of the greatest threats to the biodiversity of local waters and woodlands. They threaten native species by destroying habitats and upsetting ecosystems because, in most cases, they have no natural predators or controls.

Five-lined-skink-CrowleyAlison Kirkpatrick leads the aquatic invasive species outreach at the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters and manages the monitoring program. Kate Pitt is a species at risk biologist with the Ministry of Natural Resources helping to protect and restore more than 200 native species in trouble.

Kirkpatrick told the gathering most alien species arrive in North America through man-made pathways such as ballast water in ships or by well-intentioned people importing plants or seeds to areas where they have no natural controls and the growing conditions are ideal.

Those very pathways have resulted in the introduction of such invading species as purple loosestrife, Giant Hogweed, Dog Strangling vine, Asian Carp, the round goby, zebra mussels, the Emerald ash borer and the Asian long horned beetle.

“The Asian Carp was brought to North America by aquaculture and is now considered to be one of the biggest threats to the Great Lakes,” said Kirkpatrick. “The Giant Hogweed can cause third-degree burns and the dog strangling vine is believed to be impacting Monarch butterflies,” she told the local landowners.

The round goby competes with our native fish and has been implicated in outbreaks of botulism type E in Great Lakes fish and fish-eating birds, resulting in large die-offs of fish and birds.

The landowners were asked to report any invading species they might discover on their property through or

They were also advised not to dump live bait into inland waters because that bait might contain a species like the Round goby and not to move wood from one area to another because it could contain invasive species like the Emerald ash borer and the Asian long horned beetle. They were also advised to clean boats off carefully when transferring them from one waterway to another.

Pitt told the gathering Southern Ontario is a hot spot for species at risk.

“It’s where most of the people live and where development takes place,” she said.

Species at risk locally include the Piping Plover, the Blanding’s Turtle, Snapping Turtles, Barn Swallows, the Henslow’s Sparrow, the Eastern Whip-poor-will, the Eastern Medowlark, the Common Nighthawk, the Barn Swallow, the Milksnake, the Gray Ratsnake, the Butler’s Gartersnake, and the Five-lined Skink, to name a few. Add to that list the Passenger Pigeon, once the most abundant bird on earth, according to Pitt.

Part of Pitt’s job is to educate people about how to protect species at risk and their habitat. She said habitat is defined on a Species-by-species basis, noting that many species have found a way to co-exist with human activity.

Pesticide use has contributed to the decline of some species, while disappearing habitat and urban sprawl affected others like the Barn Swallow.

“The Barn Swallow population has decreased 65 per cent from 1966 to 2009,” she stated.

Both women advised landowners how they can protect endangered species or how to try to eradicate invasive species, adding that sightings of either should be reported so they can be tracked.

People should not buy species at risk from pet stores if they were caught in the wild. The pet store owner should be able to prove where they got the animals, said Pitt.

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  1. IM Messenger says:

    I M not about to partake in arrest-promoting activities.

    They win, you lose when you go before the judge. Besides you are taking your voice out of the arena in which you want to be in, every voice counts. Surely you do not want to sit in jail with nothing to protest about, but the wall and your dinner plate.

    Passion is required to make a difference, no doubt about it. But brains and compassionate activism will get you further and accomplish more.

    Why do you think the Gov’ts in Canada and world wide are changing and creating new laws? . . . new Gov’t committees . . . because the strength of the people is in those old laws. We must be vigilante to what is happening in that forum (politics). The best activist legal minds are doing their work. They can’t do it all. What is your part?

    And the Crimea/Urkane situation is all about the wealth of resources there and the Euro vs. the Dollar. Russia will not put its oil/resources on the market in dollars. This does not sit with the corps. and countries who are using dollars. So pressure and go to war then offer an outrageous loan to fix up the aftermath of the country and control that country through monumental debt. Impossible situation to get out of. The smoke and mirrors of Gov’t speakers will tell you something else. And we believe and fall for the equality of fairness for the little people, which has really nothing to do with the MONEY. Money cares little about democracy. Humans care about humanity.

  2. Jack says:

    Summing up , doctors, clergyman, police officers, our elected municipal representative, farmers, restaurant owners, the mayor . We all need to get arrested if we have to, Believe me then they will start listening. Non violent crisis packed tension will get it started.

  3. Jack says:

    Nice guys finish last!!! Resistance fighters would have been a better choice of words other the terrorist. But don,t get me wrong big wind needs to be terrorized.
    We don,t need to upset or troubled, we need to be angry and defiant.
    Picket their meetings, picket council, start shouting matches, refuse to shut up and sit down, put body,s in their way. Refuse to give up your seat at the lunch counter as black Americans did.
    Our constitution gives us the right to peaceable assembly and, to speak against our goverment,s decisions and to protest.
    Violence is wrong and will not end up well for all participants involved, but deliberate and direct action is not.
    Martin Luther King wrote
    ” The purpose of our direct action program is to create a situation that is so crisis-packed that it will inevitably open the door to negotiation…. Indeed this is the very purpose of direct action…. It seeks so to dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored…. My citing the creation of tension as part of the work of the nonviolent resister may sound rather shocking. But I must confess that I am not afraid of the word ” tension “. I have earnestly opposed violent tension, but there is a type of constructive , nonviolent tension which is necessary for growth ”
    We must get it across that they need to seriously listen to us.
    Sense of fairness, reasoning , relying on the justice system is and has failed us.
    Civil disobedience with the goal of creating nonviolent tension so crisis packed is the only way we are going to get action.
    Big money, partisan politics are in the drivers seat presently and we need a seat on that bus.
    Municipal and provincial elections are just around the corner, make sure that they know that unles they are anti wind they will not get your vote. Especially at the municipal level.
    Shut big wind and their meetings down, our local politicians , lawyers

  4. IM Messenger says:

    Wolf quote:
    “So what’s the solution . . .? How do we take back democracy? ”

    The solution . . .
    First know what is your purpose. Along what lines are your skills and passions writing, speaking, legalities, communication, research, financial, planning, etc. Then make connections with others who are on the same wave-length. Think non-violent activism. The power is in numbers, people who stick together. Other solutions can be found at: or on the blog

    Mark#1 quote: “crazy and now suggesting terrorism” . . . a very important point . . . bottom line no-violence or anything that leads to charges or being detained in jail. This type of activity will backfire. Monday, Mar. 24/14 the news announced that anyone with a police record or problems with police going back 5yrs+ will not be allowed across the USA border. This is no joke. And for students (god-forbid) they will have a tainted life for future success. It’s not like the old days of protest. Even children under 14? who participate in activism, the parents will be held responsible through children’s aid.

    The gov’t is cranking up the police force to clamp down on protestors and agitators; they will put them in jail in group loads (large and small) and taken to court in groups and punished severely regardless if it is first offence. Yes, a task force with task force training. And with face recognition these days on cameras in Walmart, at the hockey game, home depot parking lots, banks, future shop, etc. you will be found. The surveillance and privacy issues increase daily as we speak.

    Get yourself out of debt, keep yourself out of debt. You’ll have more freedom. Till the gov’t puts the dog chip in your right arm . . . going to a cashless society. And the smart meters start wireless transmitting your daily activities through chips in your new appliances and TVs, cars, smart phones tracking the whens and whereabouts. On and on it goes.

    Work at the ground, grass roots level within local politics on up and with others. Find your niche and go from there.

  5. Stealth Mode says:

    Alpha Team ready Sir !

  6. Mark #1 says:

    Just wanting to point out , again, that Jack is crazy and now suggesting terrorism in his fight to ward off the turbines.

  7. Wolf Braun says:

    This is the link to the West Link Anti-Turbine group with the setback story….

  8. Wolf Braun says:

    A friend sent me the following. I had not heard this….

    “I am sure you have heard that out of the Five new turbines built recently in West Lincoln. Four are built 100 meters closer than regulations allow . Can you believe that ! All the Company had to do was step it out ( you know 3 feet to the step ) just to be sure . The old rule measure twice erect once seemed not to have applied here. Now the company is trying to get a variance . It will be interesting since West Lincoln has been against these from the beginning and were told sorry it would be…too expensive to break the contract !”

    Has anyone else heard about this? I

  9. Gary says:

    And the employee’s union pension plan OPT stands to profit if this proceeds. One more example of “follow the $$$”.

  10. In reply to BH:
    Whether or not MOE and MNR employees agree or disagree with policy is immaterial. My point is that in response to a perfectly straightforward article on the very real dangers of invasive species, some people hijacked the comments section to launch hysterical diatribes and hurl personal insults at MOE and MNR employees. I found this disgusting.

  11. BH says:

    In reply to Janet.

    MNR and MOE employees do not necessarily agree with the Ontario government’s policies regarding the placement of wind turbines on environmentally sensitive areas like Ostrander Point and Amherst Island.

    Those employees are not in the position to vocalize their opinions. After all, they work for the ministries that have set a policy and the people employed follow the policy in place.

    I am not disparaging those MOE and MNR employees, rather I feel sorry for those that oppose unwise placement of turbines. They understand that placing wind turbines on Ostrander Point and Amherst Island will harm nature unnecessarily, but know it is best not to object openly.

    If they could object, we would be hearing from them. Like IM Messenger, I also know MNR employees who are not speaking out. They are good people, who do not wish to agitate in their place of work.

  12. Wolf Braun says:

    So what’s the solution IM Messenger? How do we take back democracy?

  13. IM Messenger says:

    Wolf you mean the endangered species like the organic cow, sow, and chicken. Same reasons the Gov’t wants to get rid of the ESA = Endanger Species Act. So it won’t pain the process of application approval for their REA = Renewable Energy Act.

    The Gov’t has already fired Heads of Research and employees and closed down their Labs. Seems the Gov’t doesn’t want the reality of what’s happening not only with endangered species but with oceans, lakes, forests, people, and the impact on the rest of the world. They taken and also burned 20 yrs. of important paperwork and documents some from Labrador research project linked to the Museum of Natural History>? All gone, changing the Museum to something else hoping to change history. *shrugs* Who the heck is profiting from this? Look to who will fund the research for this history. You guessed it > Mega Corporations.

    No facts, No evidence, No problem.

    Endangered species is the tip. The future will be cloning the species they want to eventually bring back to inhabit earth err else take to another planet when earth is a complete garbage dump.

    Follow the money. Google “Silence of the Labs” doc.

    Yes, an island, however there is gas under these bedrocks and we’d better think about banning “fracking” cause the wealthy corps will be buying and Stronich has already bought property here and will be buying more. Property values dropped far enough yet? Have the turtles left the building?

    Janet has a good point to defend. The MNR ppl are only doing what they are told . . . toe the line of upper management and up the line it goes to the Premier; follow policy or leave and with all that education, be very hard to find an independent employer with lots of money to pay wages for all previous gov’t employees. I know for a fact, some employees do not like the Gov’t policy.

  14. Wolf Braun says:

    Accidentally hit the submit button. 🙂

    It’s my belief that all endangered species that should be saved are the ones that are directly affected by humans. Isn’t that one of the main reasons why our governments have set up departments like the Ministry of the Environment?

  15. Wolf Braun says:

    “Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it.” — Mahatma Gandhi

  16. The remarks accusing MNR naturalists of making decisions only to protect their paychecks or pensions are insulting, not only to them, but to the many volunteers who have worked very hard over the years to protect and improve the natural environment of Prince Edward County. I have had the privilege of knowing many naturalists – and trust me, they don’t do it for the money. They do it because of a genuine love of and concern for the environment. The fact that some of their decisions don’t happen to tally with some people’s opinions doesn’t give anyone the right to impugn them personally. This is totally out of line and, in my opinion, dangerously close to libel.

  17. Jack says:

    Turbine terrorist camp ? Might be a thought. I know a couple of roads we could shut down.We are an island. Any willing students out there?

  18. IM Messenger says:

    This is about Invasive Species Destroys Habit for Endangered Species. You’re saying:

    Are Industrial Wind Turbines the invasive species – possibly, probaby and more than likely than not. Look at all the characteristics of Invasiveness, Destroying of Habit (animal & human) and the effects on Endangered Species.

    Just because the MOE sanctions the invasion without imput from the people does not change the nature of the beast called “Invader”. Build it and they will come.

    Not much to debate on this one.

    Veto, we all can do our part in this mess ie: asian carp, hogweed, goby, buckthorn and not cutting our wild grass fields till after July to spare the meadowlark some hardship.

    Quote: “Add to that list the Passenger Pigeon, once the most abundant bird on earth, according to Pitt.”

    The Gov’t is NOW allowing a hunt for sport: the killing of mourning doves. Shrugs at the insanity of this killing due to the fact it will disrupt the food chain of raptors who prey on them naturally and hunters will do what with the dead ones? Who stands to profit from this one?

    This guy Pitt is doing his job … educating. A good piece of work.

  19. Chris Keen says:

    No need to shout, Barney! Why shouldn’t the hypocrisy of the MNR be pointed out? It should trouble all of us.

  20. vetologos says:

    What are you prepared to do? anything other than rant?

    hey, Rubble, turn down the volume (all caps in this venue, not necessary) you will be heard

  21. barney rubble says:


  22. Chris Keen says:

    Their jobs not only provide them with a good pay cheque, Steve but, if it’s ever built, the Gilead project will help provide these OPSEU members with their pensions when they retire. How’s that for neutrality?

  23. Doris Lane says:

    Steve has said it all
    On one hand MOE and MNR want to kill and destroy as long as it suits big business but please let you or I injure a species at risk and we will be malinged

  24. Lori Cairns says:

    @ Steve,

    + 1000!!!!!!!!!

  25. BH says:

    I feel sorry for many MNR and MOE professionals, who know better, but have to keep quiet in order to keep their jobs safe.
    Just another example of how the current government has ruined our democracy.

  26. Gretel says:

    OMG Where’s the “like” button for County Steve? One government hand doesn’t know what the other government hand is doing. Spastic like.

  27. County Steve says:

    What the!!!!???? Is this some kind of twisted joke?
    Seriously, are you kidding me? This is like cigarette companies asking you not to smoke!
    We, as individuals, need to be horribly concerned about endangered wildlife? Like, say, you accidentally encounter a Blanding’s Turtle while mowing your lawn, MNR is horribly concerned that you won’t steer around it?
    Human encroachment and human error!!!!! Oh, my God, I think I’m having a brain seizure! The MNR mandated the very destruction they’re talking about! Do they mean: “Don’t kill a single endangered species … kill LOTS of them”? That could be their new motto.
    I can’t believe my eyes! “Part of her job is to educate and protect!!!!!!!!” I would say that is a teeny-tiny, miniscule – almost invisible except with an electron microscope – PART of her job.
    Hey! MNR! You have given the green light to wiping out endangered species in the south end of the County, with bulldozers and pavement.
    How ungodly large are your balls that you ask us to be on the lookout for offenders to the Endangered Species Act? Just turn your eyes upward to your Bosses, you sad lackeys of provincial politics. Why are you not on our side, actually fighting – at our own cost – to protect the wildlife you pretend to care for?
    MNR is a lame joke. A laughable joke … but the laughter is cold and hard, and not joyous.
    MOE and MNR no longer have sway in Prince Edward County. I would like to say that they shirked their responsibilities, but that just means they ‘looked the other way’ – which is true. But I will say that the two Ministries are active participants in the reckless abuse of our County Environment, and the destruction of Natural Resources – wildlife, habitat, the works.
    It is incomprehensible to me that you can tout ‘protection’ to us, when you – not us – are the worst enemy the south shore has ever faced. Go home and tell your kids your job lets you kill wildlife of every kind and pave over their homes, but you make a good paycheque. See how that flies over the dinner table.
    Guess no-one knows the value of the word ‘shame’ anymore. Guess that doesn’t come with your job.

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