Tag Archive | Wildlife

Bee-Killing Pesticides Found in “Bee-Friendly” Plants Sold in Ontario

This is some serious news!!! Bee attractive plants that gardeners use to promote Bee procreation, have been tested and found to contain neonicotinoids!  In Canada!

The seeds of these plants are treated the same way as farmers crops – they are soaked in the pesticide so that as it grows, the pesticide is contained within each cell of the plant. It is more effective than spraying and reduces labour hours, however at what price? These neonics are the same that have polluted the water supply throughout the states, and has been banned from use in animal fodder and animal and plant refugee conservation sites.

About 50% of the bee-friendly plants have enough of the pesticide to kill bee’s outright, and 40% have two varieties of the neonics! Samples were taken from London, Ontario, Montreal and Vancouver, all with similarly disturbing results. How are we as consumers able to encourage growth in the bee population if the plants we buy to do just that, are actually detrimental to their numbers?

Otter Valley Naturalists

A new study released by Friends of the Earth Canada shows that over 60 per cent of “bee-friendly” home garden plants sold at garden centers have been pre-treated with neonicotinoids (neonics) pesticides shown to harm and kill bees. Of the samples collected from London, 100 per cent contained neonics, the highest amount in the Canadian tests.

The plants tested were: Calibrachoa, Gerbera Daisy, Shasta Daisy and Zonal Geranium. All but the Zonal Geranium showed two neonic pesticides, increasing its sub-lethal effects.

The Canadian data is part of a larger study, Gardeners Beware 2014, released by Friends of the Earth in Canada and Friends of the Earth U.S. with Pesticide Research Institute (PRI). Garden plant samples were collected from top garden retailers from 18 cities across Canada and the United States. Canadian samples were collected in London (Ontario), Montreal (Quebec) and Vancouver (British Columbia).

Gardeners Beware 2014 reported that 51 per…

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7 Things You Need To Know About The Toxin That’s Poisoned Ohio’s Drinking Water

Toledo, Ohio and surrounding area are currently not able to drink their tap water because of a large algae bloom on Lake Erie. What this post from ThinkProgress adds to the story, is that climate change, and humans are direct aggressors on the formation, and severity, of these blooms.

This satellite image provided by NOAA shows the algae bloom on Lake Erie in 2011 which according to NOAA was the worst in decades

This satellite image provided by NOAA shows the algae bloom on Lake Erie in 2011 which according to NOAA was the worst in decades

Events such as this continue to give tangible proof of the importance in moving towards more eco-friendly practices. Read this article for more information.

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via 7 Things You Need To Know About The Toxin That’s Poisoned Ohio’s Drinking Water | ThinkProgress.

BY EMILY ATKIN POSTED ON AUGUST 3, 2014

This satellite image provided by NOAA shows the algae bloom on Lake Erie in 2011 which according to NOAA was the worst in decades. This satellite image provided by NOAA shows the algae bloom on Lake Erie in 2011 which according to NOAA was the worst in decades.

Approximately 400,000 people in and around Toledo, Ohio are being warned not to drink their tap water after high levels of a dangerous toxin were discovered in the water supply Saturday, according to the Toledo-Lucas County Department of Health.

The toxin is called microcystin, the high levels of which were caused by massive increases in algae on Lake Erie. The increases in algae, called “algae blooms”, are poisonous if consumed — causing abnormal liver function, diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, numbness, and dizziness. Boiling the water doesn’t help — in fact, itincreases the presence of the toxin.

As of now, it’s…

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How Noisy is Too Noisy?

The United Kingdom’s energy strategy for the future is heavily reliant on off-shore wind turbines. The unknown element here is how the underwater noise of these turbines, during construction, and in usage, will effect the environment. The University of Newcastle’s Sustainability blog posted about the preliminary challenges of these turbines.

wind turbines

The masts which hold the turbines must initially be hammered into the sea floor, destroying habitat space, and causing loud echos and rippling waves from it’s center. In coalition with other University research teams, Newcastle’s research team spent four days on the water collecting samples of species and water with various technologies in order to map the ecosystem before construction, during, and usage periods. This will help them understand the effects of underwater noise in their marine ecosystems, and design ways of limiting potential issues into the future. Read their blog post for more information on this endeavor, and other sustainability news.

SustainabilityResearch@Newcastle

In July 2013 the RV Princess Royal was home to a group of UK underwater sound specialists, called the Bio-Acoustic Research Consortium (BARC). This new project is led by Dr Per Berggren from Newcastle University’sSchool of Marine Science and Technology and it brings together a range of noise specialists, ecologists and industry professionals with a common aim: to better understand the impact of underwater noise on marine ecosystems.

The consortium has attracted grant funding from the Natural Environment Research Council’sMarine Renewables Knowledge Exchange Programme to explore the environmental challenges associated with offshore wind development, an industry that continues to grow rapidly. The Newcastle Institute for Research on Sustainability (NIReS), also supplied a small grant towards equipment costs which has funded the purchase of six hydrophones, called C-Pods, for detecting marine mammals. It is hoped the knowledge gained from the project can be fed directly back to industry…

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Bee Killings Causing the Death to More Than Just Bees

David Quilty, blogger of The Good Human, writes some devastating news last week. The insecticide neonicotinoids which are used to kill bees have been detected in nine major rivers across six different states. While the effects of neonicotinoids are quasi-understood when used as insecticides, what the effects on the fish population will be is still uncertain. The likelihood of negative effects however, seems plausible if not probable. What’s more is that now that the toxin has infected our water supply, it can be precipitated across other areas where there is not agricultural purpose. This does not effect one farm, but breaks through ecosystem borders. Currently, Bayer and Monsanto (among others) manufacture and sell them, and it is the most widely used insecticide in the world. Already detrimental effects are compounding from the usage of this chemical, but will the present profits made from it continue to outweigh the future of our planet? bees

Beans and Bunny Go Outside


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Kate from Beans and Bunny Go Outside is an Ontario-based biologist who is the mother of two daughters nicknamed Beans (6) and Bunny (8). Her blog is devoted to sharing her family’s adventures in nature and answering all of the many questions that her daughters come up with as they explore the natural world around them. As her homepage states, “Sometimes it takes a kid to make us stop, smell the flowers and identify the bugs living on them.”

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Beans and Bunny Go Outside is a fun, creative, and educational blog fit for anyone who wants to learn more about the environment or for mothers who want inspiration on how to get their children enjoying and interacting with nature. Beans and Bunny Go Outside is part of the Outdoor Blogger Network and is approved by the Top Mommy Blog list.
If you would like to visit Beans and Bunny Go Outside and learn more about the natural world from a biologist and her kids, click here!

Drones join fight to protect African wildlife

An African elephant

An African elephant

Unmanned aircraft are getting more affordable. Companies are pushing the boundaries of drone technology — and now, that includes protecting nature.

In Morrison, Colo., near Denver, a group is finding new use for its drones, 9,000 miles away.

In the U.S., the Federal Aviation Administration is still working on regulations and standards for drones, but overseas in Africa, unmanned aircraft are already being used over game parks, reports CBS News correspondent Jeff Pegues.

Even at night, thermal imaging drones can track wildlife. With an eye in the sky, drones are able to do things humans could never do.

From 300 meters above, a drone keeps an eye on elephants

From 300 meters above, a drone keeps an eye on elephants

In places like Namibia, drones — unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs — have been purchased to monitor game parks and to track poachers.

Crawford Allen, director of The World Wildlife Fund North America, said, “The poachers out there know that there is something in the sky that is looking for them. … We think (drone technology) is going to be an important tool that will help produce far more effectiveness in protecting these precious species.”

Read the full story here.

Inaugural World Wildlife Day Brings Dire Warnings

Critically endangered orangutan mother and baby

“Some of the world’s most charismatic animals are in immediate danger of extinction as a result of habitat loss and illicit trafficking,” warned UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, as the world marks the first World Wildlife Day.

From Geneva to Tokyo and from New York to Nairobi, people around the world are attending special events to mark the day in Bangladesh, Belgium, China, Germany, Mongolia, New Zealand, Peru, Switzerland, Thailand, Togo, the United Kingdom and the United States, among others.

At UN Headquarters in Geneva at the opening of the “Wild and Precious” exhibition, featuring photographs of dancing manta rays, elephants, apes and majestic trees, Ban said today, “Wildlife is part of our shared heritage. We need it for our shared future.”

“Wildlife remains integral to our future through its essential role in science, technology and recreation, as well as its place in our continued heritage,” said Ban, calling on all countries to protect biological diversity and halt environmental crimes.

“While the threats to wildlife are great, we can reduce them through our collective efforts,” he said.

UN General Assembly President John Ashe, who is also in Geneva, said, “The exhibition we open today illustrates how animals, insects, plants and trees are all unique pieces forming the beautiful mosaic of our natural environment. Not only do they sustain our livelihoods, they are an integral part of our cultural heritage through tales and legends, symbols and traditions.”

“In the complex symphony of nature, each and every species plays an essential part to maintain the delicate balance of our planet’s ecosystems,” said Ashe.

The UN General Assembly designated March 3 as World Wildlife Day to mark the adoption of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, CITES, an international agreement by the governments of 176 UN Member States.

Administered by the UN Environment Programme, UNEP, in Geneva, its aim is to ensure that global trade in some 35,000 species of plants and animals does not threaten their survival.

CITES Secretary-General John Scanlon said, “We are thrilled by the enthusiasm and overwhelming support for wildlife coming from so many places and people. It gives us great hope that we can secure a sustainable future for wild plants and animals, as well as for ourselves.”

Read the full story here.

London Summit Intensifies Battle Against Wildlife Crime

Illegal wildlife items like these tiger heads are stored at the U.S. National Wildlife Property Repository in Colorado before being destroyed or used in research.

Bringing together heads of state and government ministers from 50 countries, Thursday’s high-level summit on illegal wildlife trade may represent a turning point in the fight against wildlife crime.

The London summit—hosted by the British government and led by Prime Minister David Cameron, Foreign Secretary William Hague, and Environment Secretary Owen Paterson—focuses on securing specific actions around elephants, rhinos, and tigers.

Topics being discussed include improving law enforcement and the role of the criminal justice system, reducing demand for illegal wildlife products, and supporting the development of sustainable alternative livelihoods.

Prince Charles and his son, William, the Duke of Cambridge, are attending, as are the presidents of Botswana, Chad, Gabon, and Tanzania. There is also a delegation from China.

A two-day International Wildlife Trafficking Symposium at the Zoological Society of London wraps up today. Organized by United for Wildlife (a partnership among Conservation International, Fauna & Flora International, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, The Nature Conservancy, the Wildlife Conservation Society, WWF-UK, the Zoological Society of London, and the Royal Foundation), the attendees are identifying solutions to feed into the summit.

Read the full story here.

United Nations Proclaims March 3 as World Wildlife Day

Elephant herd drinks water in the Kruger National Park, South Africa.

The United Nations General Assembly is honoring wild animals and plants, particularly endangered and protected species, by designating March 3 as World Wildlife Day.

In a resolution adopted December 20, the 193-member General Assembly selected March 3 because that is the anniversary of the adoption of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, CITES, an international treaty that aims to ensure global trade does not threaten the survival of listed species.

 

The General Assembly reaffirmed the intrinsic value of wildlife and its contributions, including “ecological, genetic, social, economic, scientific, educational, cultural, recreational and aesthetic,” contributions, to “sustainable development and human well-being.

The new resolution designating World Wildlife Day follows the General Assembly resolution of December 20, 2012, in which member governments expressed deep concern about environmental crimes, including trafficking in endangered and protected species of wild animals and plants, and emphasized the need to combat such crimes by strengthening international cooperation, capacity-building, criminal justice responses and law enforcement efforts.

CITES Secretary-General John Scanlon helped to bring the resolution creating the special day to the General Assembly, and the CITES Secretariat, in collaboration with UN agencies, will implement World Wildlife Day.

“World Wildlife Day is an ideal opportunity to celebrate the many beautiful and varied forms of wild fauna and flora and raise awareness of the multitude of benefits that conservation provides to people,” said Scanlon. “At the same time, the Day reminds us of the urgent need to step up the fight against wildlife crime, which has wide-ranging economic, environmental and social impacts.”

“We invite all member States, relevant organizations of the United Nations system as well as all other interested organizations and individuals – from airports to museums to schools – to get involved in this global celebration of wildlife,” he said.

Read the full story here.

Across the Plains

The view on the way in to Saskatoon

The view on the way in to Saskatoon

My week in Saskatoon was nothing short of wonderful. My cousin (my Dad’s cousin to exact) is an amazing lady. One of the friendliest, most energetic, and kindest people I’ve ever met, she is also one of the most petit. Standing at only 4’7″, she is a tiny fireball of amazing energy and personality. She and her lovely 20-year-old daughter hosted me in typical Prairie fashion, with plenty of warmth and welcome, even arranging a family dinner one night so that my other relatives (I have a few) in Saskatoon could come by for a visit. I was able to reconnect with an old roommate and dear friend from my University days, which was equally wonderful. I’m so pleased I got the chance to reconnect with all of these great people who I rarely get to see. And staying at my cousin’s place there is never a dull moment, due to the presence of three very cute, very small, very friendly dogs that would race up to greet me whenever I entered the house. The littlest one, a Yorkshire Terrier named Bean, even slept on my bed at night on her little yellow towel, so I was never lonely.

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My adorable housemates

Too cute for words!

Little Bean kept me company at night.

I spent my days in Saskatoon working at Earth Bound Bakery, and I really don’t know where I would have been without that place. The day I left town, I loaded up on sandwiches with thick, freshly-made hemp-seed bread, homemade soups and chocolate croissants made from organic, unbleached wheat flour and organic butter (you can really rationalize that something is good for you if it has enough good ingredients!).

My (almost) guilt-free breakfast treat–an organic latte with a chocolate croissant made from organic, unbleached flour and organic butter.

My (almost) guilt-free breakfast treat at Earth Bound Bakery–an organic latte
with a chocolate croissant made from organic, unbleached wheat flour
and organic butter. Yum!

I set out for Lethbridge at what I thought was a reasonable hour, but I had somehow shortened the driving time in my mind. Google tells us it’s 6 hours 41 minutes, which of course means in perfect conditions with zero traffic and no stops. I clocked in at about 8.5 hours with gas and food breaks (my sandwiches eventually ran out), and at times I felt like the drive would never end. The weather was cold and there were a few flurries at times, but the highways were mercifully clear. I made my way through Swift Current and Medicine Hat (which were both much larger than I expected), and finally, at about 9:30pm, I arrived in Lethbridge. I called my Air B&B hosts to let them know I was nearby, and followed the GPS through a labryinth of similarly-named streets to find the house where I was staying. Vastly different from my Regina accommodations, this was a family home, where I was to stay in the spare room in the basement and share a bathroom with the owners and their two teenage daughters. As daunting as this may sound, it was actually great. The family blew me away with their kindness, hospitality, and down-to-earth attitude. They invited me for home-cooked meals each night, (which always featured beef and were uniquely delicious), and printed out numerous maps to help me find my way downtown, to the show, and in and out of their maze-like suburban neighbourhood. They had a big white cat named Paul who took a liking to me, and the last night I was there I thanked them with a bottle of red wine, which we sat around enjoying over great conversation until the wee hours.

Aside from the oddly complex neighbourhood street system that I was positioned in, Lethbridge was quite easy to navigate. As always I sought out a good organic cafe, and one of their daughters directed me to the next best thing. ‘The Penny,’ a coffee and lunch shop with delicious homemade sandwiches and soups, that nearly gave Earth Bound Bakery a run for it’s money, except for the organic designation. I made it my daily morning stop, which was possible only because Lethbridge was so small and easily navigable. That weekend a snowstorm hit, and I found myself driving (sliding) in about a foot of snow on most streets. At one point, on the way to the exhibition grounds, I tried to round a corner on a quiet, snow-covered street, and my steering and breaks failed me completely. I slid right into the curb and heard a loud ‘CRUNCH.’ Oooohhh, that can’t be good. When I checked the tire, I saw that the rim was pretty badly damaged. I didn’t think I could make it to Edmonton in that state, but I had to get out of Lethbridge. It was a Sunday, and I had to work at the show all day, and Monday was a bank holiday. Yikes! There was nothing I could do for the time being, so I decided to worry about it later.

'The Penny' coffee-house in Lethbridge, home to great homemade eats.

‘The Penny’ coffee-house in Lethbridge, home to great homemade eats.

The Christmas Market itself was smallish, as to be expected, but we still did a respectable amount of sales, and what was really wonderful was that Spirit Bear began to sell well. Part of this, I believe, was due to my improved sales pitch, but it also seemed as though an inordinate number of people knew what a spirit bear was in this town. In Regina, I could count on two hands the people that had actually heard of the spirit bear, yet here every second person seemed to know about it. Many referenced a documentary, and a few mentioned Simon Jackson of the Spirit Bear Youth Coalition having visited Lethbridge to speak about the bear, so word was getting around. On Friday I was shocked to find that Spirit Bear outsold all of the other titles at my booth, which was something I really didn’t expect. But it seemed that people here really connected with the idea behind the book, and appreciated the free learning resources and low eco-footprint. It gave a me a great feeling to see so many people getting excited about the book in its printed form, and not just as a concept anymore.

Monday morning was spent searching for a mechanic’s in Lethbridge that was actually open. I called the car rental company but I soon became trapped in a maze of circular dial pad pressing, and I realised it was all a ruse–I wasn’t going to get ahold of a person that day. Finally I found a Canadian Tire that was open and had a garage. Thanks goodness!!! The mechanics were a team of teenagers, the oldest one being 18, but he looked no more than 15. The head mechanic happened to be there on his day off, and he had a few more years under his belt. He took one look at my tires and told me the front ones were essentially bald, and unsafe for winter driving. He said he wasn’t at all surprised that my brakes had locked up and my steering had failed. He said I should never have been sent out with tires in this condition. This surprised me greatly, as I had specifically requested winter tires from the rental company, as I was driving on dangerous highways, not the least of which was the one to Fort MacMurray.

My damaged rim had to be sacrificed in order to make it to Edmonton.

My damaged rim had to be sacrificed in order to make it to Edmonton.

I explained to them that I needed to get to Edmonton that day, and the boys kindly bumped me to the front of the queqe and hoisted my little car up onto the lift. Before I knew it, they had replaced my rim and rotated my bald tires to the back, so that I’d at least have some traction for my drive North. They advised me to trade the car in as soon as possible, though, and agreed to back me up if the rental company tried to hold me liable me for the accident. Prairie kindness strikes again!!!

I wound up waving goodbye to Lethbridge much later than planned, loaded up with goodies from The Penny, and made my way up North in my newly souped-up vehicle. Luckily the roads were clear, so I didn’t have to test the baldness of those tires yet again, and I arrived safely in the late evening at the home of family friends. This family had been very dear to me as a child, we had often visited each other when my brother and I were young, and we loved playing with their two boys, who were just a few years younger than us. The boys had long since moved away, but their youngest daughter was still at home, and I had only met her once before as an adult. Busy lives, years and distance had caused us to drift apart, though I had seen their parents from time to time when they came through Vancouver.

I was greeted warmly when I arrived, and welcomed in as though I were family. Their daughter even moved into the basement while I was there so that I could sleep in her room. I was touched. My first evening was spent sipping wine, catching up and reminiscing.

My first order of business the next day was to switch out the car. I was nervous that the rental company might try to hold me responsible for the damage, but I had the mechanic’s phone number in case things got dicey. I needn’t have worried. The staff fell over themselves apologizing to me for this terrible inconvenience, and swiftly packed my things into a shiny new upgrade for no extra charge. Now I had a sweet Sonata with brand-new all-seasons (they don’t offer winter tires), and a trunk big enough to actually fit all of my books plus my suitcase. I was ready to roll!

Saying goodbye to the Mitsubishi that got me from Regina to Edmonton in one piece despite the bald tires.

Saying goodbye to the Mitsubishi that got me from Regina to Edmonton
in one piece, despite the bald tires.

My new sweet ride with extra trunk space – all ready to get dirtied up on the road to Calgary!

My sweet new ride with the extra trunk space–all ready to get
dirtied up on the road to Calgary!

That evening I caught up with a friend who lived in town, who I had actually met on a Whistler trip through a mutual friend years before. We went for a drink with his co-workers in the Strathcona area, which I found quite delightful, as it was peppered with brick buildings and charming little shops, bars and restaurants. A welcome break from the series of strip malls that seemed to populate the roadsides of Edmonton, Strathcona is an historic district located in the south-central part of the city, and was once the downtown area of the separate city of Strathcona. It’s now Edmonton’s main entertainment district, filled with theatres and live-performance venues. There are also a number of character buildings in the area including the Canadian Pacific Railway Station and the Strathcona Hotel. Always a sucker for the old part of town, I made a point of walking up and down the strip, popping my head into all of the little shops along the way. It’s so nice to see a city like Edmonton taking pride in their heritage and preserving their historical areas for the people to enjoy, as it truly enriches the experience of the city on the whole.

The Old Strathcona district in Edmonton, Alberta.

The Old Strathcona district in Edmonton, Alberta.

My last night in town, my host and her daughter took me to dinner at one of their sons’ restaurants; the younger of the two boys I had played with as a child had begun a highly successful chain of pizza restaurants using classic Italian cooking techniques and ingredients. The food was delicious–thin-crust pizza made from fresh dough, with tomato sauce made with tomatoes imported from Italy. And we finished  off our meal with a tiny glass of real lemoncello, just like I’d experienced in the old world. Deliziosa!

I was presenting at a school in Calgary early the next day, so I had to wake early for my drive. I was sad to say goodbye even though I’d be returning in ten days time, as reconnecting with these old friends had been amazing, and they felt more like family to me now. No matter what I sell on this trip, the relationships I’ve had the opportunity to re-establish have been more than worth the journey.

One of those boys that I had played with as a child (but had not seen since before my teen years) now lived in Calgary, so his mother insisted that we meet up when I arrived in town. It’s been nearly twenty years since I saw him last, so this ought to be interesting!

Next Blog: Connections in Cow-Town