10 reasons to celebrate conservation in 2022
Posted onDecember 8, 2022by|
The hands-on interventions that WPC excels at are critical and needed now more than ever before. We are proud to be leading this work here in Canada.
As part of the WPC community, you will know that one of the things that makes us unique is that we fight for those animals most in need of saving, which are often smaller overlooked creatures – the blue racer, Butler’s gartersnake, western painted turtle and eastern loggerhead shrike, all highlighted in this list.
For those of you that already support WPC, thank you. It is making a difference. This year has been one of the most impactful years for all of the species we are saving. If you are new to WPC, please consider how best you can support Canada’s wildlife, in whatever capacity you can.
A record number of 5,200 conservation-bred Taylor’s checkerspot caterpillars, all produced and cared for by WPC ‘s team in BC, were released at Helliwell Provincial Park on Hornby Island in 2022. WPC has an additional 1,600 ready for release in the spring of 2023. We know the releases are working! Adult Taylor’s checkerspot butterflies have been observed at the release site, evidence they are thriving in the wild. WPC plays a key role in two of the three conservation breeding and release programs in all of Canada for endangered butterflies – for the checkerspot in BC and mottled duskywing in Ontario.
WPC’s creation of an innovative bumble bee breeding lab, staffed with dedicated experts resulted in major breakthroughs! Varying the conditions in the lab, such as lighting, temperature and humidity, resulted in fifteen bumble bee colonies producing a record number of 250 new queens, an increase of almost 200% from 2021.
WPC released 54 young conservation-bred eastern loggerhead shrike in Ontario this year and an additional 45 young fledged from wild pairs. The conservation breeding and release program continues to be critical for stabilizing the wild population with 14% of all wild birds observed in 2022 having come from previous year’s releases. Our field teams also saw the count of wild adults surpassing 50 individuals for the first time in five years. This songbird would no longer even exist in Canada if not for WPC’s recovery work. Parc Omega in Quebec joined the breeding partners to increase our capacity to return shrikes to the wild and local landowners participated in restoring 300ha of shrike habitat in Ontario, all signs that provide hope that we will save Canada’s shrikes from disappearing.
WPC released over 23,000 Oregon spotted frog tadpoles and froglets to the Fraser Valley this year, exceeding 2021’s banner year record of 20,000 tadpoles. The previous record was 1800 tadpoles in 2020. With the major breakthrough in 2021 in our breeding techniques, and our record breaking successes, we are confident we have mastered the methods to produce large numbers of tadpoles for release each year. This frog is on the road to recovery, as we also found wild egg masses at the release site for the second year in a row. With this continued level of success, we will change the recovery timeline for this species from decades to years making this one of Canada’s greatest endangered species conservation stories.
Our province wide monitoring program was expanded to cover 113 sites in southern and central Ontario. The WPC team carried out 161 surveys and recorded 4137 bumble bees from 16 species. This is the largest bumble bee monitoring program of its kind in the province, collecting critical information on distribution and population trends across Ontario.
We completed the final year of a multi-partner three-year study of the blue racer on Pelee Island, the last remaining population of this elegant snake in Canada. It is critically important to determine how the species and its habitat are faring since the last survey 20 years ago, as well as to determine the most immediate conservation needs for this snake. Analysis of the survey results, as well as a genetic analysis to determine whether future reintroduction efforts are necessary are nearly complete. Initial results are encouraging as the population does not appear to have declined as drastically as previously feared.
2022 was the second year in a row that we’ve had reports of our released western painted turtles nesting in the wild at the reintroduction site in the Fraser Valley in BC, with 7 nests from reintroduced females this year! This is further confirmation that the reintroduced population is starting to breed on its own. WPC released an additional 183 young turtles this year to help these western painted turtles recover even faster.
WPC carried out the very first overwintering trials of massasauga rattlesnakes at the Ojibway Prairie in southern Ontario this past year. WPC is rapidly becoming a global leader in developing snake reintroduction techniques. We are delighted to report that all 12 of the massasaugas overwintered in artificial hibernation sites in Ojibway survived in good health! Determining that these sites work for massasaugas is a key step in the reintroduction process We are that much closer to bringing the massasauga back to the Ojibway prairie.
WPC was part of efforts to carry out the first- ever Ontario butterfly reintroduction, with mottled duskywing butterflies released in Pinery Provincial Park. This spring and summer, adult mottled duskywings were found at the park confirming that the releases in 2021 survived and bred on their own in the wild! This summer, an additional 383 duskywings were released. It is rare for a conservation program, of any species, to have such success in just its sophomore year.
We began work with a new species, Butler’s gartersnake, in 2022 and completed the first year of a three-year study to assess the conservation needs, threat mitigation, and effectiveness of reintroducing the species to sites in southern Ontario where they have declined significantly in recent years.