The river otter is scarce throughout Canada, with the marked exception of the BC coast. This adorable member of the weasel family is amphibious, with a streamlined body and tail, short legs, webbed feet, and dense waterproof fur equipping it to hunt in water. Unlike other fish-eating mammals like seals and whales, otters do not have thick blubber but only a thin layer of fat under their skin.This requires them to get out of frigid waters to rest, find shelter, and travel between different lakes and streams to find foods. Earth Rangers if supporting Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) Canada as they work to develop best management practices for the conservation of otter habitats as well as conserving and connecting wetland ecosystems.
Red knots are colourful sandpipers that sport brilliant terracotta-orange underpants and intricate gold, buff, rufous, and black upperparts. They have some of the longest migrations of any bird, travelling from nesting areas in Baffin Island, Nunavut, North Hudson Bay and the central Arctic to wintering spots in southern South America. Sadly their populations have declined in recent decades and are now listed as endangered in Canada. On their long journey north, the red knots stop in Bahía de San Antonio to refuel, rest, and moult. Unfortunately this important habitat faces increases disturbance and fewer red knots are stopping there, meaning fewer are able to complete the journey home. Earth Rangers is working in partnership with the International Conservation Fund of Canada (ICFC), Argentinian researcher Patricia Gonzalez, her Fundación Inalafquen, and the Provincial Environment Rangers to enforce protection for the red knot at Bahía de San Antonio and reduce the impacts of human disturbance during the annual migration season.
Wolverines are fierce and tenacious, living in northern boreal forests up to the Arctic Circle. They are solitary creatures that wander huge distances in home ranges than can exceed 500 square kilometres in order to forage for fruits and vegetables and hunt prey large and small. Wolverines are highly sensitive to human disturbance; sometimes even abandoning their dens if they detect humans nearby. As land is developed and wolverine territory is increasingly used for human recreation, the large contiguous tracts of land available for wolverines to live, hunt, and breed are getting harder to find. Wolverines also need high snow levels for their dens to raise their young and cache food – as climate change intensifies and heavy snow packs shrink wolverine populations are running out of room. Earth Rangers teamed up with University of Calgary researcher Mirjam Barrueto to learn more about the wolverine habitat in the Columbia and Canadian Rocky Mountains. Mirjam’s data will help inform backcountry tourism partners and their provincial land use managers how to best optimize wildlife protocols and balance land use.
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 BC’s Coquitlam River, the sockeye salmon that once passed through in the thousands have not been seen for some 105 years. In partnership with the Kwikwetlem First Nation, a hatchery program has seen thousands of smolts released into the river, and returning adults will be captured to have their eggs will be fertilized, reared, and released to bolster the population and help us to better understand the species’ lifecycle.
A survivor since the age of the dinosaurs, the white sturgeon can grow to weigh over 600 pounds and live to be 100 years old. Despite this, these fish are vulnerable to overfishing and interference in their natural habitats. Earth Rangers and the BC Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resources Operations and Rural Development helped to protect the endangered Kootenay white sturgeon population through a hatchery program and the use of sonic telemetry to determine wild sturgeon behaviour and habitat use patterns.
In the past, caribou could be found across two-thirds of Alberta, but suffered a major population decline in the early 1970’s, from which they never recovered. Current population estimates of woodland caribou in the province are just 2,500 to 4,200 individuals. In order to ensure their population survives and grows, Earth Rangers and the Pembina Institute collaborated to help identify caribou habitat and propose conservation areas across Northern Alberta.
Western Screech Owl
Fewer than 500 western screech owls are left in Canada. Key threats to their population include forest habitat loss due to development, large-scale agriculture and hydroelectric projects. Earth Rangers teamed up with the Nature Conservancy of Canada to protect western screech owls by collecting important information about population size and studying their nesting habits. Thanks to the donations raised for this Bring Back the Wild project, the Nature Conservancy of Canada was able to conduct over 90 surveys. The information from these surveys will be used to support conservation efforts for western screech owls.
Oregon Spotted Frog
Oregon spotted frogs are the most endangered amphibians in Canada; within their limited range in southwestern British Columbia fewer than 300 breeding females remain. This drastic population decline is caused by such threats as habitat loss and the presence of invasive species, like bull frogs. To help protect the Oregon spotted frog Earth Rangers and the Vancouver Aquarium worked together to reintroduce this species into protected habitat and raise awareness about amphibians at risk. Over 5,000 Earth Rangers members started fundraising campaigns to help protect the Oregon spotted frog, helping to build a new breeding facility on the roof of the Vancouver Aquarium, supporting the breeding and release of Oregon spotted frogs into the wild, and restoring wetland habitat in eastern Fraser Valley in Aldergrove National Park.
The beautiful Great Bear Rainforest in British Columbia is targeted for development, which would destroy the homes for many species including the grizzly bear. That’s why Earth Rangers and the Nature Conservancy of Canada teamed up to protect this habitat. The funds Earth Rangers members raised through Bring Back the Wild went to buy private land to protect this habitat and keep air traffic and other disturbances away. By protecting land in Ellerslie Creek in the Great Bear Rainforest, we helped provide critical habitat for grizzly bears and tons of other species like black bears, mountain goats, cougars and gray wolves.
Earth Rangers and the Nature Conservancy of Canada purchased land in Alberta’s Crowsnest Pass to help protect wolverines and other local animals. Wolverines are wide-ranging carnivores that need space to roam. Increasingly major roads are cutting off their migratory routes; their populations are also susceptible to fur-trappers. Through purchasing land, Earth Rangers and the Nature Conservancy of Canada helped expand the protected habitat that provides safe spaces for such species as the wolverine, grizzly bear, grey wolf and elk. Thousands of Earth Rangers members started Bring Back the Wild campaigns to provide support for this conservation project while raising awareness about species at risk.
To ensure that pine martens continue to have a safe place to call home, Earth Rangers supported TNC Canada as they collaborated with local First Nations communities, the Manitoba Government and industry to develop a land-use plan within 22 million acres of boreal forest. The land-use planning process is developed and defined by First Nations communities, and involves scientific research, GIS mapping, Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge and extensive community engagement. All parties are working together to have the land-use plans formally adopted.
As little as 35 years ago there were no swift foxes left in the wild in Canada. Today, thanks to a lot of hard work, their populations are returning. Unfortunately, they are still listed as threatened in Canada as they face serious threats like grassland habitat loss, as well as trapping and hunting. Earth Rangers and the Calgary Zoo helped protect the swift fox by purchasing cameras that researchers use to study the habitats where these foxes raise their young. This information will be used to find better ways to protect swift foxes and the habitats where they grow up.
Western Bumble Bee
Bees are disappearing fast, and we need more scientific research to figure out how we can help them. Habitat loss, disease and pests, pesticides, invasive species and climate change are all making it difficult for these important pollinators to thrive. Earth Rangers and Dr. Cory Sheffield from the Royal Saskatchewan Museum helped protect the western bumble bee by funding research to better understand bees and learn more about the number and variety of bees in western Canada. This conservation project also created awareness about the vital role bees play.
Monarch butterflies are beautiful insects known for their incredible migratory journey that takes them almost 5,000 kilometers. Sadly, environmental conditions and loss of breeding habitat pose serious threats to the Monarch. Widespread use of herbicide in North America kills Milkweed, a plant that provides food for the Monarch caterpillars and nectar for the butterflies. To help protect the Monarch butterfly Earth Rangers and the Nature Conservancy of Canada preserved critical habitat in the Tall Grass Prairie in Manitoba. This area is filled with Milkweed and wildflowers, providing a large open habitat for Monarchs and other at-risk species.
The plains bison once roamed the western prairies in the millions, but by the late 1800s they had been hunted to near extinction. Today their populations continue to recover, that’s why Earth Rangers and the Nature Conservancy of Canada helped care for plains bison at Old Man on His Back Prairie and Heritage Conservation Area in Saskatchewan. Thousands of Earth Ranger kids started Bring Back the Wild Campaigns to purchase hay to feed the bison during the winter months when snow cover prevents them from grazing. Donations also funded site maintenance, such as fixing fences.
In the Southern Hudson Bay, the number of ice-covered days is decreasing by 6.8 days per decade. Polar bears rely on this sea ice as a platform for hunting seals, and are forced to migrate on shore when the sea ice melts completely each summer. Without access to the marine mammal prey that make up most of their diet, polar bears on shore are forced to fast and rely on stored fat for energy. Climate warming has also affected the availability of denning habitat for reproductive females. In partnership with York University researcher Tyler Ross, 25 polar bears were fitted with GPS radiocollars to collect data which will allow researchers to determine polar bear movements and behaviours. This crucial information will allow researchers to inform conservation activities in Ontario’s Northern Boreal Forest and along the Hudson Bay coast, providing models for land-use planning to mitigate impacts on polar bears and their critical habitat as a result of climate change.
Thick-billed Murres are a resident of the far northern oceans, found in the Arctic waters all across the globe. Known as the “penguins of the north,” these birds have distinctive black and white colouration and are one of the deepest underwater divers of all birds, regularly descending to depths of over 100 metres. Recent reports show their populations declining by rates of 20%-50% in some large colonies as the species becomes increasingly exposed to threats such as fishing net entanglement, ocean pollution, oil spills, and climate change. In partnership with McGill University researcher Emily Choy, Emily examined the relationships between thick-billed murres physiological strategies and foraging movements on Coats Island and Northern Hudson Bay. Emily will be using her research to assess habitat quality with the goal of ensuring that the key foraging areas of thick-billed murres are not being negatively impacted by human disturbances.
The integrity of the sea ice is crucially important to the ringed seals’ survival, but this integrity is being threatened by climate change. With the aid of animal telemetry, scientists at the University of Manitoba compiled 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.
Snowshoe hares are a primarily northern species that’s found in boreal forests and mountain ranges. Their white winter coats that transform to reddish brown in the summer provide excellent camouflage, making it difficult for predators to spot them. But impacts of climate change – including earlier snowmelt in the spring and later arrival of winter conditions in the fall – is making them more vulnerable to predators and impacting the species survival rates. Earth Rangers worked with University of Alberta researchers to examine how climate change is impacting snowshoe hares, and what changing weather patterns mean for the species’ survival rates across boreal Canada.
Cold water coral thrive in the deep waters of the Arctic and provide critical habitat for juvenile Greenland halibut and a variety of other fish and crustaceans, which are important food sources for a diverse group of marine mammals, including narwhal. Estimated to be 8,000-9,000 years old, Canada’s cold water corals are currently facing major threats like resource exploration and development, climate change, ocean acidification and bottom trawling. To learn more about the location of cold water corals in areas that have never been surveyed, Earth Rangers is working with Arctic Fishery Alliance to conduct surveys using a remote controlled underwater camera in the Davis Strait, Baffin Bay, and The Mouth of Eclipse Sound, where the Arctic Ocean meets the Atlantic. These surveys will provide a greater understanding of where cold water corals are found in order to inform better protection for them.
The early melting of arctic sea ice means more ships are travelling through the arctic than ever before. Scientists believe that noise pollution from these ships may be affecting the beluga’s ability to communicate with one another, find food, raise their young and detect predators. Earth Rangers, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, the University of Manitoba and Churchill Northern Studies Centre helped protect the beluga whale by purchasing special underwater recorders to measure the effects of boat noise on their natural behaviours. This project also supported conservation research and helped scientists study how environmental changes, like contaminants, affect beluga whale health.
Since the early 1980s the conditions for polar bears in their arctic habitat has declined, largely due to climate change. The sea ice is breaking up earlier than normal and decreasing in coverage, which forces polar bears inland sooner in the year. Earth Rangers, the Churchill Northern Studies Centre and researcher Dr. Nick Lunn worked together to protect the polar bear by supporting scientists conducting research in western Hudson Bay. This project also purchased satellite collars that allowed researchers to track polar bears and learn more about how early melting sea ice impacts their offshore movement and survival. 22,000 Earth Rangers members started Bring Back the Wild campaigns to help protect polar bears; their efforts raised awareness about species at risk while providing support for critical polar bear research.
The Meadoway is a vibrant, 16-kilometre expanse of urban greenspace and meadowlands that will become one of Canada’s largest linear urban parks. Stretching from the Don River Ravine in downtown Toronto to Rouge National Urban Park, the Meadoway will connect four ravines, 15 parks, 34 neighbourhoods, over 200 hectares and more than 1,000 diverse species of flora and fauna, including red foxes, ospreys, and eastern milksnakes. Meadow habitats have been in decline throughout Ontario due to the expansion of urban areas , the intensification of agriculture, and the suppression of natural disturbances. Earth Rangers is supporting the Toronto Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) as they work to restore and create new wildlife habitats in the Meadoway encouraging the return of native species.
Monarch butterflies 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 worked 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—improved and protect a collective 147 acres through planting native wildflowers, planting milkweed, removing invasive species, and engaging the community in citizen science initiatives.
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 teamed up with Bird Studies Canada to maintain this positive trajectory by increasing on-the-ground action and community engagement across the province.
The gray fox can be found in deciduous marshes from southern Canada to northern South America. Despite their large range, this species is threatened in Canada, with only one breeding range in the country confirmed. Pelee Island is the largest stronghold of the gray fox population in Canada and may be an important stepping stone and source population for natural spread of the species onto the mainland. That’s why Earth Rangers teamed up with the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) to restore 1,000 acres of gray fox habitat on Pelee Island, creating ideal hunting and denning habitat and implementing a plan to control invasive species.
Eastern Small-footed Bat
The rarity of eastern small-footed bats has led to a lack of knowledge about their habitat, making conservation planning challenging. In an effort to learn more about this species, Earth Rangers teamed up with Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (OMNRF) to find eastern small-footed bat roosting sites and identify areas for us to protect. This important study not only contributed to identifying and monitoring the endangered Ontario population of eastern small-footed bats; it also provided other bat researchers with an inventory of locations that will be the basis for future studies of this species in Ontario. This includes the important task of stopping the spread of white-nose syndrome in Canada, a deadly fungus that has not yet been identified in Ontario eastern small-footed bats but that is rampant in populations across the United States.
Midland Painted Turtle
One of the biggest threats facing turtles in Ontario is the destruction of wetland habitat across the southern part of the province. In order to ensure the Midland Painted Turtle and others, including the Snapping Turtle, continue to have a safe place to live in southern Ontario, Earth Rangers and the City of Toronto have collaborated on a major wetland restoration project, focused on an area called Habitat Pond, on Toronto Island. The Habitat Pond restoration project is approximately 0.5 hectares and will include planting over 500 native trees and shrubs and over 800 wetland plants, installing basking logs to provide turtles with a place to warm up, and the ongoing management of water levels.
Little Brown Bat
Once one of the most common and widespread of Canada’s 19 bat species, the little brown bat is now listed as endangered in Canada, and faces imminent extinction or extirpation. The major cause of documented mortality for little brown bats in central and eastern Canada is a deadly fungus called white-nose syndrome (WNS), which thrives in the damp, cool conditions of mines and caves. Spreading at a rate of 400 km per year, it is only a matter of time before the disease spreads to western Canada. Earth Rangers is partnering with researchers from the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry to identify critical habitats little brown bats use for mating rituals and hibernation. The project will help determine effective methods for large scale bat population surveys, which can then be implemented to prevent the spread of WNS.
The largest threats facing wolverines in northern Ontario are habitat loss and fragmentation. However, individual wolverines also face the threat of incidental trapping, which occurs when a wolverine is caught in a trap intended for other species. It is estimated that there are only 600 wolverines left in Ontario, and because wolverines reproduce at such a slow rate, the loss of every individual can have a big impact on the overall population. Earth Rangers and Wildlife Conservancy Society are collaborating with licensed registered trappers to develop new techniques to prevent the incidental trapping of wolverines. Funds raised will allow various trapping tools and techniques to be tested in the field and once best practices are established, education and outreach initiatives will be conducted among the broader trapper community.
For eastern wolves living in Ontario, habitat loss and degradation from equipment noise and pollution are major threats to survival. Their population numbers are so low that there are believed to be fewer than 1,000 eastern wolves left in Canada. Earth Rangers and Dr. Brent Patterson from the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources teamed up to help eastern wolves by purchasing seven GPS satellite collars to study the wolves’ movement patterns, distribution and habitat use. This information will be used to learn more about eastern wolves in Ontario and find better ways to protect them.
Blanding’s turtles are losing the wild spaces they need to make their homes and what habitat remains is being divided by land and road development. To make matters worse, Blanding`s turtles are also in danger from poachers who are removing them from their homes in the wild and illegally selling them as pets. Earth Rangers and the Toronto Zoo teamed up to help protect the Blanding’s turtle. This Bring Back the Wild project supported a head-starting program at the Toronto Zoo, which raises young turtles indoors and releases them into the wild as soon as they are able to survive on their own.
Earth Rangers, the Nature Conservancy of Canada and researcher Josh Sayers helped protect the American badger in Southern Ontario by removing invasive plant species and rehabilitating grassland habitat. Through field restoration and the creation of sand ridges the project helped improve the American badgers’ ability to find food and build dens. This project also funded the placement of radio transmitters on several American badgers to better understand their movements, habitat preferences and behaviours. Over 8,000 campaigns were started by Earth Rangers members passionate about protecting the American badger, and together they supported conservation work while increasing awareness about the need for environmental protection.
Dozens of species of long distance migratory songbirds in Canada have experienced chronic, long-term population declines. To help protect songbirds, Earth Rangers, the Nature Conservancy of Canada and Bridget Stutchbury and her research team worked together to protect the wood thrush by conserving habitat and supporting migratory studies. 10,000 Earth Rangers members signed up to protect the wood thrush, and the funds they raised went to help the Nature Conservancy of Canada purchase approximately 25 acres of mature deciduous forest, providing critical habitat for many species including the wood thrush. Donations to this project also purchased 60 geolocators, which were used by Bridget Stutchbury and her team to study and track wood thrush migration paths to help us learn more about how to protect their breeding and wintering grounds.
Spotted turtles are losing their habitat; wetlands are disappearing as they are drained for development and degraded by the introduction of invasive species. These small reptiles with distinctive yellow spots are also put at risk by the pet trade as poachers take them out of the wild to sell in pet stores. To help protect the spotted turtle Earth Rangers and the Nature Conservancy of Canada launched a Bring Back the Wild project to raise support for removing invasive species from wetlands as well as getting habitat designated as Provincially Significant to keep it from being developed. The location of this work has to remain secret, to protect the spotted turtles from poachers. Earth Rangers members started campaigns to help support this conservation work, and thanks to their fundraising efforts the spotted turtle has more protected habitat in Ontario.
Jefferson salamander habitat is threatened by reckless off-roading and urban development. That’s why Earth Rangers and the Nature Conservancy of Canada built barriers and warning signs in Happy Valley Forest to prevent habitat destruction from off-roading and protect the forest. Thousands of Earth Rangers members started campaigns to protect the Jefferson salamander. Their support raised funds to help take care of this critical habitat, providing undisturbed wooded areas and tree debris for the Jefferson salamander to build its home.
Because Salamanders live both on land and in water and have thin skin that is susceptible to the absorption of toxins, salamanders are a sensitive species that can act as an early warning of negative impacts on the environment. 10 of the 21 Canadian salamander species can be found in Québec’s ecologically-rich Covey Hill, where Earth Rangers teamed up with the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) to help conserve a 148-acre property including an ecologically important 15,000-year-old peat bog.
In the 1960s, the peregrine falcon population was almost decimated across Canada due to the toxic pesticide DDT. Thanks to a country wide ban on DDT and a successful recovery plan, over 1,500 peregrine falcons have been reintroduced, and breeding populations have been restored. Traditionally found near rocky cliffs and large bodies of water like the Great Lakes, some peregrines have recently adapted well to life in urban areas, making nests on the ledges of tall buildings. Although the peregrine falcon is no longer at risk of immediate extinction, habitat loss and human disturbance still pose a threat. To ensure this species’ full recovery, Earth Rangers is collaborating with FLAP Canada to promote bird-friendly building design in Toronto, and with the Nature Conservancy of Canada to monitor breeding and nesting sites in natural areas like the Alfred-Kelly Nature Reserve in southern Québec to reduce human disturbance during nesting season.
Bobolink populations have dropped significantly throughout North America since 1968. This is largely due to the grasslands where they nest becoming land for houses or large scale farming operations. Earth Rangers and The Couchiching Conservancy took action to protect bobolinks by restoring important grassland breeding habitats, conducting surveys on populations and nests, and purchasing geolocators to study bobolink migration. This project also supported Regroupement QuebecOiseaux’s efforts to educate farmers on ways to protect bobolinks if they nest on their land.
The destruction of old barns, use of pesticides and climate change are all threats affecting barn swallows. With fewer places to call home, barn swallows are slowly disappearing from our forests and woodlands. Earth Rangers and the Nature Conservancy of Canada helped protect the barn swallow by rebuilding barns and protecting land at Covey Hill and Île de Grâce, Quebec. This project also supported research conducted by Bird Studies Canada on barn swallow usage of artificial nest boxes.
Newfoundland Pine Marten
Newfoundland pine martens were historically trapped for their fur; a practice that was banned in 1934. Today Newfoundland pine martens are still being accidently caught in traps and snares, set to catch other animals. Threats from the fur trade combined with habitat loss have caused Newfoundland pine marten populations to decline to 300-600. To help protect this curious and excitable mammal, Earth Rangers and the Nature Conservancy of Canada funded expeditions into the Grassy Place in Newfoundland and Labrador. This project assessed the area to develop a plan to protect the pine marten while also working to restrict trappers from accessing the Grassy Place.
Peregrine falcons live all across the world, including coastal areas where they can hunt for their favourite meal, shorebirds. As beaches, like those found in the Upper Bay of Fundy, are increasingly disturbed by human activities, birds like the peregrine falcon face serious threats to their population. To help protect the peregrine falcon Earth Rangers and the Nature Conservancy of Canada hired Beach Rangers to parole the beach and educate visitors coming to the shorelines at New Brunswick’s Chignecto Bay. Thousands of Earth Rangers members started campaigns to protect the peregrine falcon, and their efforts helped ensure shore birds were better protected at Chignecto Bay.
Bees & Other Pollinators
Pollinators in Canada face many challenges, including habitat loss. Expanding urbanization is also eating up the habitat of many of these creatures as exotic garden plants, lawns, and roadways replace the native vegetation necessary for pollinators’ survival. Luckily, we can help ease this pressure for both wild and managed pollinators with some strategic gardening. Earth Rangers teamed up with Pollinator Partnership Canada to develop local native plant species lists for attracting different types of pollinators, and create pollinator habitat planting guides to provide information on how to create pollinator habitat in diverse ecoregions across Canada.