Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Endangered species

No, I'm not talking about the tourists, who might disappear, again, in our chilly July weather.
I worry about our frog ponds of Muskoka. I worry about the natural prey and predators as we develop Muskoka.

Yesterday, I found the carcass of my precious "Patch" (I think!), my little one-eyed snapper. I haven't seen him for awhile, but I've been busy with guests! It was nicely cleaned by sow bugs, and all sorts of critters. I don't know if a raccoon, or another critter got it.

There are several species who are beginning to invade Canada from parts afar.
Zebra mussels attached themselves to boats, and are shipped by recreational boaters or anglers wherever those who fish and boat place their vessels. People who take wood from place to place can provide transportation for insects that will endanger the fragile cycle of life. Predators must compete for food, upsetting the balance of feast and famine.

Spiky leaves, a Herbaceous Invasive Species is new and found in the Trent-Severn water ways, is pretty scary.
The sharp-edged water soldier plant hurts swimmers. It is sold at nurseries for aquatic gardens, but can escape and get into fresh water.

Giant Hogweed, from Brittain, is a phototoxic plant. From Wikipedia...
Its sap can cause phytophotodermatitis (severe skin inflammations) when the skin is exposed to sunlight or to UV-rays. Initially the skin colours red and starts itching. Then blisters form as in burns within 48 hours. They form black or purplish scars, which can last several years. Hospitalisation may become necessary.[1]
How frightening.

Invasive species threat about 25% of native species, which impact for both flora and fauna in terms of biodiversity. We know how much an ecosystem can be affected by another species, especially non-native, that take away habitat and food.

The fisher (see my photo, right), a scourge of Muskoka, threatens cats and chickens alike. Our cat treed one and it didn't come back. This isn't the case in most situations, but our cat is rather territorial and fierce. It swims easily through the water, runs on land, and rips ducklings from their mothers.

The OFAH has a website to present information. But the big thing it to keep these species out and away from invading new territory.

inspect, empty your bilges on land, rinse, spray, wash and dry all nooks and crannies, empty bait buckets on land
Wash your boats, clean your equipment, inspect and clean your craft regularly if you travel from lake or canal to other lakes.

Float Planes
inspect transom, wheel wells, steps for mussels and remove vegetation from rudders, avoid aquatic vegetation, and dry dock for a few days .

Personal Watercraft (PWC)
Avoid running the engine through vegetation, remove debris from the water-intakes, grates, inspect and wash thoroughly.

Scuba Gear
Dry your suit, rinse the inside with hot water (40 degrees C./ 104 F.) and submerge in salted water ( 1/2 cup of salt/gallon), do not remove artifacts (it is illegal anyway!) .

Waterfowl Hunters

Avoid anchors on decoys that will collect submersed plants, clean equipment, remove mussels, rinse hull with hot water, dry boat/equipment for at least 5 days, inspect equipment.


rob said...

Hello Jennifer. Your blog is on my radar now, esp because I love the Muskokas... Who knew that frogs could make the roads slick in the rain? Now do you mean with excretions from their bodies? or with their actual bodies? yuck...

Jenn Jilks said...

It's true, Robert! There are times when frogs cross the road - especially on smaller Muskoka roads in heavy rains, or mating season. Their little slippery bodiess...
Lately there have been a lot of turtles crossing to lay eggs. You can see where there are bogs on one side, with sandy shoulders, and they come out of the lake on the other side.

Carolyn said...

Interesting post Jenn, the other thing for boats is to empty their bilge before moving from water system to water system.
Islands are high risk areas for introduced species. The can and do change the whole dynamics of an island. i.e. we never had raccoons or beaver on the island however they were introduced in the 1930's to create a trapping industry but we don't have cold weather so the furs where not salable. As a result the beaver and coons have bred without control as we have no predatory animals on the island. The beaver are destroying the endemic wild crab apple trees and the raccoons ravage the shore bird colonies at breading time.
We do things without thinking about the long term consequences far too often.
Thanks for sharing this great post.

Jenn Jilks said...

Good point, Carolyn. I haven't had a motor boat in years. I shall add that! The introduction of a species seems to have nothing but a detrimental effect on the fragile ecosystem. What work in one clime, continent, or ecosystem does not necessarily work in another.

Cloudia said...

Yes, this is a serious issue everywhere now, not just here in Hawaii the indangered species capitol of the world...very sad...We do what we can..
Comfort Spiral

Lauren said...

It is very sad when species from other ecosystems are transported to new areas and snuff out the competition from other animals. These foreign species have little to no natural predators. Australia has a huge problem with cats.

Jenn Jilks said...

Really, Lauren? I did not know that. How about rabbits? I thought that was an issue, too.

With a garbage collector strike, to the south of us, in the city of Toronto, they are having issues with raccoons, and rodents. What they say is that all this food will mean that they will be more successful producing a huge population and down the road there will be trouble.

Yogi♪♪♪ said...

Very interesting. You have given me a complex though.

EG CameraGirl said...

I just came cross a stand of Giant Hogweed. They sure are HUGE...and invasive.