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Learn about species at risk on the County’s south shore

Species at risk on Prince Edward County’s south shore  include the Blandings Turtle, which is considered rare in Ontario. – Ian Dickinson photo

Home to about 40 species at risk, Prince Edward County’s south shore offers potential for their recovery – with a little help from friends.
The local charity South Shore Joint Initiative launched the pocket guide to help people learn about these species, thanks to financial support from the TD Friends of the Environment Foundation.

The publication, “Your Guide to Species at Risk – Prince Edward County South Shore Key Biodiversity Area” helps readers learn such things as where Red-headed Woodpeckers like to hide food and why Piping Plovers vibrate sand with their feet.

“If you love the South Shore and are curious about the species at risk that live, rest, forage and breed there, this new guide is specifically designed for you,” said SSJI President John Hirsch.

“Our mission is to educate and advocate for the protection, preservation and restoration of the south shore lands and waters. If it wasn’t for TD’s support, we wouldn’t be able to introduce the species at risk that depend on the south shore for livelihood in such an engaging and unique way.”

The guide features images from more than 20 local photographers, fun facts and identification information about the 39 currently known south shore species at risk.

Designed to be suitable for all ages, the colourful, pocket-sized 44-page guide was printed on 100 per cent recycled paper with the financial assistance of the TD Friends of the Environment Foundation.

“This eco-friendly guide is sure to appeal to anyone who loves our South Shore, Canadian birds, reptiles, amphibians, plants, insects, fish and mammals.”

The guide also includes descriptions and at risk classification information about species that have been documented using the South Shore area.

The federal Species at Risk Act, also known as SARA is designed to protect endangered or threatened organisms and their habitats. It also manages species which are not yet threatened, but whose existence or habitat is in jeopardy.

About 40 species at risk – amphibians, birds, fish, insects, mammals, plants and reptiles have been documented in the South Shore.

Black Tern populations have been reduced or destroyed in many places; the cause is believed to be the loss of wetland habitat. – Ian Barker photo

These species, and many other wild creatures, live in and reproduce in the woodlands, wetlands, grasslands and surrounding water of the County’s south shore which has features a designated Important Bird Area (IBA).

For example, from a count in April 2000, it was estimated more than 150,000 Long-tailed ducks can be found in the County IBA – about 7.5 per cent of the global population.

Well-known local naturalist, Terry Sprague has often summed up the south shore’s importance noting more than 330 species of birds recorded in Prince Edward County – 92 per cent of those observed within the IBA meaning the site has the highest concentration and abundance of any site on the Canadian side of Lake Ontario.

The south shore is on the migration route of migratory insects with the most significant butterfly being the Juniper Hairstreak, a very rare species in Ontario. In 1995 Prince Edward Point was declared an International Monarch Butterfly Reserve because of the large numbers of provincially protected Monarchs migrating through the area.

Rare reptiles, amphibians bats and other mammals are also found within the IBA, including the Blandings Turtle, which is considered rare in Ontario.

And the Prince Edward Point National Wildlife Area is unequalled in North America for the numbers of Northern Saw-whet Owl migrating during fall.

And while Ontario is touted as being a species at risk leader with its Endangered Species Act (ESA), people who care continue to monitor activity of the Ministry of Natural Resources for any activity related to the ‘flexibility and balance’ section, where the ESA contains tools to allow the government to issue permits otherwise prohibited under the act that may “kill, harm and harass” wildlife.

Learn more about the work of the South Shore Joint Initiate, how you can help, join, or purchase the new guide. They are $10 each, or 2 for $15 by clicking here to visit the SSJI website.  

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