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Bringing Back the Sharpie

Bringing Back the Sharpie
For an animal whose survival depends on being inconspicuous, the Sharp-tailed Grouse has developed quite a following. That’s because  once a year, the males of this cryptically coloured species gather together for a dramatic display of dueling and dancing. If you've never seen these birds in action, it’s worth a look: though an increasingly rare sight in the wild, a quick Google search will turn up multiple clips of Sharp-tails stomping, vibrating, clucking and chirping at each other, all part of a dance of dominance designed to capture the attention of Sharp-tailed hens.  Sharp-tailed Grouse Lek in Snow (HD) from Dawson Dunning on Vimeo . Starting at dawn, the males gather to establish territories on the dancing grounds, known as leks. Birds return to these sites year after year to perform their animated mating ritual , which  provides an excellent opportunity for researchers to do bird counts to determine if their populations are changing - or if they've disappeared. When it was first described by Lewis and Clark in the early 1800s, the Columbian Sharp-tailed Grouse was considered to be the most prolific game bird in the Northwest. Historically, the Columbian subspecies of Sharp-tail was found across nine of the...
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News Coverage of Delta Farmlands Project

News Coverage of Delta Farmlands Project
Global News BC ran the following story on HCTF Project #2-349, the Provision of Waterfowl & Raptor Habitat within Managed Grasslands on Lower Fraser River Farmland. The Foundation has contributed over $150,000 to this project, which encourages farmers to plant their fields with winter cover crops and create grassland set-asides. These programs are designed to simultaneously benefit farmers and wildlife by improving soil conditions while creating habitat.  Winter cover crops provide a valuable food source for migratory birds, and grassland-set asides support small mammal populations and create raptor hunting grounds. Earlier this year, HCTF did an evaluation of this project, which you can read about  here . You can find out more about the Winter Crop Cover and Grassland Set-asides programs by visiting the Delta Farmland & Wildlife Trust website .    
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Good, Clean Dirt

Good, Clean Dirt
UVic student Nathalie Vogel submitted the following narrative about PCAF Project 976, the Restoration of Robin Lane. HCTF contributed over $5000 to this project, which involved more than twenty volunteers removing invasives and restoring native plants to a former Garry Oak site in Saanich, BC. Thank you, Nathalie, for sharing your story.   What do you get when you combine sunshine, fresh lemongrass tea, Salal, Oregon grape, some restoration veterans and the smell of earth in your nostrils? A thoroughly enjoyable afternoon spent at Robin Lane, sharing in ecological restoration, and bodily rejuvenation. Fellow classmate and restoration rookie Jenna and I had the pleasure of sharing an afternoon with two ladies who know this business like the dirt under their nails. Sylvia Samborski and Louise Goulet have been working with plants for decades – both through their careers as naturalists and biologist/teachers and now through their hobbies of gardening, restoration and the continued desire to learn.  The fortune was truly ours that afternoon as the women passed along words of wisdom and knowledge about plants and life – the line sometimes blurring between the two. Robin Lane, our Eden of escape on that brisk January afternoon, is a piece of...
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Students Help Transform MacKay Creek

Students Help Transform MacKay Creek
Over the past two months, MacKay Creek estuary has undergone an amazing transformation. The estuary's revival is the keystone project in HCTF's Burrard Inlet Restoration Program , a pilot created using funds from a creative sentencing award and designed to maximize habitat benefits through innovative partnerships. One of the project partners is Bodwell High School , located just steps away from the MacKay Creek restoration site on Vancouver's North Shore. The restoration of the MacKay Creek estuary began in September with the removal of a large concrete weir which had previously prevented migrating chum salmon, coho salmon and cutthroat trout from entering the creek. Next, the elevation of the estuary's tidal benches was re-graded, creating a substrate that could support saltmarsh vegetation such as eelgrass and sedges. Large pieces of wood were strategically placed in the water and the tidal benches, both to provide refuge for fish and wildlife and to help discourage Canada geese from  overgrazing the new vegetation. Once the heavy equipment work was complete, it was the students' turn to start planting native species along the banks of the estuary. Bodwell's Green Team, mentored by teacher Bianca Ferrajohn, had previously been involved in removing invasive plants from...
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BC's Wild/ Domestic Sheep Separation Program

BC's Wild/ Domestic Sheep Separation Program
The November rut is a magnificent display of strength and agility, a refined ritual that has been practiced by bighorns for centuries. The sights and sounds of these iconic B.C. mammals vying for dominance evoke a sense of respect for the ruggedness of a species that Theodore Roosevelt referred to as "one of the noblest beasts". Yet the rut can be a treacherous time for bighorns, far beyond the risk of injury from their intra-species tussles. For these highly social animals, the real danger can lie with the company they keep. Wild sheep share a number of similarities with their domestic cousins: they will use the same forage and water sources, and can even interbreed. Where bighorn range and domestic sheep operations overlap, it's understandable that a randy ram might find a large flock of domestic ewes worth a closer look. Unfortunately, these forays can have deadly consequences. Even nose-to-nose contact between the two species can result in the transfer of a pathogen lethal to wild sheep. And because it takes time for animals to become symptomatic, an infected (but visibly healthy) bighorn that returns to its herd will spread the disease, potentially decimating an entire population. For nearly a...
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