The Northern Project
Polar bears are the largest land carnivores in the world. In the Davis Strait, high in the Arctic between Canada and Greenland, polar bears feed primarily on harp seals, using sea ice as a platform for their hunt. Sadly climate change is causing significant decreases in the amount of sea ice available in the Davis Strait, which is making it harder and harder for polar bears to find food. Photo credit: Andrew Derocher
Earth Rangers has teamed up with University of Alberta researcher Larissa Thelin as she works on a project using satellite radio tracking to track the movement of both polar bears and their harp seal prey across the Arctic landscape. Determining where these populations overlap will identify critical polar bear feeding areas in the Davis Strait, and comparing this to over 40 years of sea ice data will allow Larissa to predict how climate change will affect this landscape – and the polar bear’s ability to find food – in the years to come.
Belugas are an important part of the Arctic ecosystems they call home. They are a critical resource for Indigenous communities and are a top predator in the food chains where they are found, which means changes in their populations can have significant impacts on species down the chain. Sadly, climate change is threatening their habitats, with warmer waters affecting both beluga whales and their prey – but how?
Earth Rangers has teamed up with University of New Brunswick researcher Matthew Gilbert as he works on a project that will determine how Arctic char, a key food source for beluga whales, might be affected by warming waters. Without abundant food available beluga whales will have to adapt, but before we can determine what that might look like, we need a better understanding of how their ability to successfully forage food could be affected in the years to come.
The Arctic fox is a small fox native to the Arctic tundra biome. It is best known for its thick, warm fur that is also used as camouflage, changing with the seasons, and its incredible ability to pounce headfirst to catch small prey moving under several feet of snow with pinpoint accuracy. The Arctic fox is a skilled hunter whose movements are largely dependent on where it’s able to find food, but climate change is affecting the northern landscape for both predator and prey.
Earth Rangers is working with Université du Québec à Rimouski researcher Jeanne Clermont on a project that will track the movements of Arctic foxes across Bylot Island, Nunavut, where they are the primary predator species of lemmings and various nesting birds. Fitting foxes with GPS collars and accelerometers will provide data not only about their movements across the landscape, but also about their behaviours.
Restoring the Lathrop Nature Preserve
Earth Rangers has teamed up with the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) on a project that will help restore the Lathrop Nature Preserve, a 100-year-old wetland in Ontario’s Niagara Region. The Preserve is home to a diverse plant and animal community, but over time many of its features have deteriorated, putting this important habitat in jeopardy. By restoring two of the property’s ponds and replanting the area with native vegetation, NCC is helping make sure the Lathrop Nature Preserve will support animals like these for years to come.
Few species are as adaptable to so wide a variety of habitats as foxes. These intelligent animals thrive throughout Canada, from rural countryside to urban backyards. Foxes play a crucial role in our ecosystems, and are more common in the city than people realize. Although they adapt well to a wide variety of environments, undisturbed habitat is important to the species for denning, hunting, and raising their families – but this habitat is disappearing.
Great Horned Owl
Great horned owls are found throughout North America. They make their homes in a variety of different ecosystems but like to live on the edge of open habitat, like wetlands, meadows, and croplands, where their amazing eyesight and keen sense of hearing helps them spot their prey as they hunt silently from above. Sadly their populations have been declining, and the open spaces they rely on are disappearing.
Grizzly Bears on the Beaver River Watershed
The beautiful and remote wilderness of the Beaver River watershed provides habitat and homes for moose, caribou, wolves, Chinook salmon, trumpeter swans, and grizzly bears. This once untouched landscape is marked with wetlands, lakes, valley bottoms and mountains, and is shared with the First Nation of Na-Cho Nyäk Dun as their people have lived off the land for thousands of years. The Beaver River watershed is now under threat due to a potential 65 km mining road which will puncture through important wildlife habitat, intersect 73 rivers and streams, and destroy or disturb many hectares of valley bottoms and berry patches—important habitat and food sources for grizzly bears.
Earth Rangers is working with the Government of Yukon and the First Nation of Na-Cho Nyäk Dun to support a team of grizzly bear biologists, working to access the difficult terrain by helicopter and use non-invasive methods, like hair traps, to determine grizzly bear population size, habitat use, and distribution. This new data will be used to learn how the road and mining sites will impact grizzly bears’ preferred habitats and where conservation and avoidance of key habitats could mitigate potential effects of the road.
River Otters in the Saskatchewan River Delta
The Saskatchewan River Delta is the largest inland river delta in North America. This series of interconnected wetlands and river channels is home to thousands of species of plants, bugs, and mammals, like the river otter. It’s an internationally recognized Important Bird Area that plays a critical role in the migratory pathway of birds and waterfowl, and the delta ecosystem sequesters billions of tonnes of carbon in its peatlands and boreal forest landscape. Unfortunately, this important ecosystem remains unprotected, leaving it vulnerable to threats like peat extraction and industrial development.
Earth Rangers is working with the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) on a project that is seeking permanent protection for a nearly 4,000 square kilometre area of land in the heart of the Saskatchewan River Delta. This will ensure the land remains a protected piece of quality habitat for the animals like the river otter that call it home. River otter populations across North America are in trouble as their habitats continue to disappear, due in large part to increasing urbanization and agriculture, so protecting and preserving the places they’re found is critical.
Restoring Habitat for the Western Bumblebee
The western bumblebee is a habitat generalist: a species able to thrive in a wide variety of environmental conditions and ecosystems, from subalpine and montane habitats to open forests and prairie grasslands. Despite its adaptability, however, this species has experienced a significant decline in recent years due to cumulative habitat loss and fragmentation as a result of increasingly intensive agriculture, pesticides, and other land use practices. It was once considered one of the most common and widespread bumblebees in western Canada, and we need your help to bring it back.
Earth Rangers is working with Nature Conservancy Canada (NCC) as they work to restore this important species throughout southern Saskatchewan. When you adopt a western bumblebee, you will help NCC to acquire lands once dedicated to agriculture and transform them back into pristine bumblebee habitat with floral resources, nesting spots, and protected overwintering sites. Funds will be used towards activities like planting native herbaceous flowering plants, building artificial bumblebee nest structures to encourage the establishment of colonies on the restored properties, and educating Saskatchewanians about how we can help this crucial species through their Conservation Volunteer and Indigenous Youth Education Programs.