Current Projects

Earth Rangers is teaming up with Bird Studies Canada to protect the Piping Plover,  Kwikwetlem First Nation & Watershed Watch Salmon Society to protect the Sockeye Salmon, Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) to protect the Monarch Butterfly, and the University of Manitoba to protect the Ringed Seal.

Piping Plover

Piping plovers are tiny shorebirds who make their homes on rocky beaches, nesting in sandy dunes and feeding on bugs and small marine crustaceans. Once as many as 100 breeding pairs could be found along Ontario’s Great Lakes, but by the late 1970s the plovers had all but disappeared as beaches were developed and important habitat faced increasing human disturbance.

Thanks to a small number of dedicated stewards and biologists making a concerted effort to maintain the plover’s habitat, numbers are slowly increasing. Earth Rangers has teamed up with Bird Studies Canada to maintain this positive trajectory by increasing on-the-ground action and community engagement across the province. This includes:

  • Establishing fencing and signage to protect piping plover habitat, nests, and young
  • Building exclosures (areas protected from intruding animals) to reduce predation
  • Providing outreach to beachgoers and dog walkers to increase awareness of the plovers
  • Improving habitat by removing invasive vegetation, refuse, and providing shelter for fledged young
  • Recruiting and training volunteers to act as stewards of important beach areas
  • Surveying beaches to identify and protect new nesting sites as they appear
  • Forming and strengthening relationships and collaborations with conservation groups, decision-makers, and other stakeholders to implement new policies and increase management efforts

This project will contribute to re-establishing Ontario’s plover population to historic levels.

Sockeye Salmon

The word sockeye comes from the Coast Salish name “sukkai,” translating roughly to “fish of fishes.” Sockeye salmon are the most iconic salmon species in British Columbia due to their bright red colour and emerald-green head during spawning.

Sadly, in British Columbia’s Coquitlam River, the sockeye salmon that once passed through in the thousands have not been seen for some 105 years. This is due to the building of BC’s first hydroelectric dam on Coquitlam Lake, which has made it difficult for the salmon to get back up the river to spawn. This century-long crisis has only been addressed over the past 13 years, during which the Kwikwetlem First Nation has been working on restoring the population. This sockeye salmon migration in particular is culturally important to the Kwikwetlem First Nation, whose name literally translates to “Red Fish Up The River”.

In 2017, nearly 5,000 hatchery-reared juvenile salmon (or smolts) were released in a ceremony below the dam, and some 50 adults from this release are expected to return to the Coquitlam River this summer and fall. With Earth Rangers’ support, these adults will be captured and transported to a hatchery, where their eggs will be fertilized, reared, and released back into the Coquitlam reservoir to bolster the population and help us to better understand the species’ lifecycle.

Monarch Butterfly

The migration of the North American monarch is a fascinating journey unlike any other butterfly in the world. Monarchs that occur east of the Rocky Mountains arrive at 12 sites in Mexico’s Transverse Neovolcanic Belt each fall, and form large aggregations of millions of butterflies. In spring, the aggregations begin to break up and the butterflies begin their 5,000km back to their northern habitat.

Sadly, monarch butterflies are currently listed as an endangered species, largely due to changing environmental conditions and loss of breeding and feeding habitat. Numbers have been in steep decline since the 1990s, with the eastern population dropping from almost a billion to only 200 million individuals in just two decades.

Earth Rangers is working with Nature Conservancy Canada (NCC) to help restore important breeding, feeding, and stopover habitats for monarchs across Canada. Two restoration projects—one in Mono Mills, Ontario and one on Bouchard Island, Québec—will improve and protect a collective 147 acres of monarch habitat through planting native wildflowers, planting milkweed, removing invasive species, and engaging the community in learning more about monarchs and participating in citizen science initiatives.

Ringed Seal

The ringed seal, which gets its name from the pattern of light circles on its back, is the smallest of all seal species. They make their home in Canada’s Arctic where they hunt, sleep, and even have their babies on the sea ice.

The integrity of the sea ice is crucially important to the ringed seals’ survival, but this integrity is being threatened by climate change, with Arctic summer temperatures at an all-time high. Reduction of their prime sea ice habitat is putting ringed seals at risk, and both the seal population and the predators who rely on them as a food source—such as polar bears, killer whales, and wolves—can face dire consequences.

With the aid of animal telemetry, scientists are now able to understand the movement ecology of Arctic marine mammals in challenging landscapes. Earth Rangers has teamed up with University of Manitoba scientists to compile tracking data from the past 30 years so we can:

 

  • Map the distribution of ringed seals and other marine mammals to identify important biodiversity hotspots,
  • Learn what environmental factors preferred ringed seal habitats have in common, and
  • Use climate model projections to predict where these preferred habitats will be in the future—and then creating a plan to protect them.