Keep an eye for endangered species this spring

Lisa
Lisa Goudy
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Potter strikes a pose in the Saskatchewan Burrowing Owl Interpretive Centre in November 2013. Times-Herald photo by Lisa Goudy

With spring around the corner, Nature Saskatchewan is asking people to be on the lookout for endangered species.

“Lots of these species, particularly the birds, are all on their way back right now like the burrowing owls and plovers and shrikes,” said Ashley Fortney, habitat stewardship co-ordinator with Nature Saskatchewan. “If anybody sees any species at risk on their land or if they happen to see one … while they’re driving maybe down the road or something, then they can let us know.”

If anyone sees a species at risk (SAR), they can call Nature Saskatchewan’s toll-free number at 1-800-667-HOOT (4668).

If the animal is on the caller’s land, Nature Saskatchewan will encourage them to be a land steward in the Stewards of Saskatchewan programs. The Saskatchewan Conservation Data Centre keeps track of locations of endangered species.

“It’s not sharing personal information, but if the individual chooses to allow us to share that land location, then we share that with the conservation data centre and that really helps,” said Fortney.

“They’re a big entity and they can monitor these populations and this way we can see if these species, depending on which species it is, if their population is decreasing, if it’s increasing, if it’s stable.”

 If the caller sees an animal while driving somewhere, Nature Saskatchewan will get in touch with the owner of the land.

“Then we’d just see how they felt about it, to see if they were interested in becoming involved in the program or not,” said Fortney. “Even if landowners are conserving their land for a certain species in particular — like if they have barn swallows and they’re conserving the native that’s around their farmyard — it’s helpful to all other species.”

The Stewards of Saskatchewan programs include four focus areas: Operation Burrowing Owl, Plovers on Shore, Shrubs for Shrikes and Rare Plant Rescue. The stewards main program also serves for other at-risk species not covered in the focus areas, such as tiger salamanders and northern leopard frogs.

“We’ve lost about 85 per cent of native prairie and the remainder, much of it is managed privately. That’s why we want to encourage landowners to be stewards of the land and try to conserve habitat for other species,” said Fortney. “We also promote education, conservation and research just to try to entice that love of nature throughout Saskatchewan.”

Under the program, Nature Saskatchewan works with landowners to do things such as habitat enhancements and improving shelterbelts or native prairie plots. No personal information is shared without permission.

“It’s all completely voluntary. So that’s one of the things that people really like about this,” said Fortney. “It can end when the landowners chooses to end it but we found that people are all embracing these programs and they’re really excited to be a part of it.”

For more information, visit www.naturesask.ca or phone the office at 306-780-9273.

Follow Lisa Goudy on Twitter @lisagoudy.

Organizations: Saskatchewan Conservation Data Centre

Geographic location: Saskatchewan

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