Saturday Sept 25th, 2021 – 1:30 to 4:30: Mushroom Walk at the Nordic Centre, Mark Arendz Provincial Ski Park, Brookvale, PEI. Mushroom enthusiast Ken Sanderson will provide a short introduction and lead exploration of hardwood and softwoods habitats at the Park. After returning to the Nordic Centre, an identification session will follow, though with 5000 different mushroom species in the region, Ken admits, he won’t know them all. To address COVID needs, pre-registration is essential. To register,Contact Nicole Murtagh 902-218-2935 email@example.com
Ken Sanderson is a GIS Developer for a conservation-based research institute. A long-time naturalist with a specific focus in fungi, he maintains the project “Mushrooms of PEI” on iNaturalist, https://inaturalist.ca/projects/mushrooms-of-pei .
Directions: from the main ski lodge at Mark Arendz Provincial ski park at Brookvale, head west 1.1 km and then turn left (south) on a dirt driveway for short trip to the Nordic Centre. There is a sign by the entryway.
Difficulty: About 3 km round trip, some steep hills with sure footing.
Laura MacNeil — Tuesday Oct. 5th, 2021 Presentation
Reading our Island’s rocks: A step into life, land, and climate on Prince Edward Island 60 million years before dinosaurs
Prince Edward Island holds Canada’s largest record of the Permian Period, a time when reptiles, amphibians, and early coniferous trees dominated the landscape while simultaneously evolving to a changing climate. Remnants of 300 million-year-old life are continually being exposed every day along the province’s highly-erosive rocky shorelines, revealing many scientifically-important fossil discoveries that help piece together the life, landscapes and climate of the Permian World. Witness the plants and animals that existed on prehistoric P.E.I., and what discoveries you can make yourself while walking the shoreline.
Laura MacNeil (M.Sc. geology) is an Islander and geologist who recently founded Prehistoric Island Tours, a guided tour experience that allows the public to learn about Prince Edward Island’s geologic history while getting up close and personal with real P.E.I. fossils. Laura’s business is designed to educate Islanders and visitors on the significance of our Island’s geology and paleontology, and allow the public to help identify potentially important fossils while they’re walking the province’s many shorelines. She also discovered the first 290-million-year-old Dimetrodon trackways on P.E.I.
Beaconsfield Carriage House, Corner West & Kent, Charlottetown.
Laura Macneil discovered the footprints on this rock in Cavendish in May. (Isabella Zavarise/CBC)
The high incidence of people feeding foxes, the current situation of disease in a previous high density city fox population, and the desire to keep wildlife wild has motivated several organizations to collaborate to look for more rational ways of relating to the red fox. Nature PEI is launching an anti-fox feeding campaign in collaboration with the municipalities of Charlottetown and Summerside, a wildlife veterinarian at the Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative, and the Forests, Fish and Wildlife Division. Personnel from Parks Canada are lending their expertise to the project and the PEI Wildlife Conservation Fund is another supporter. Signs and brochures will soon be appearing and social media with our partners will be spreading our messages to Islanders, young and old.
In 2015, Kristine Martin completed her Masters research on red foxes at the University of Prince Edward Island. She noted that very few people believe feeding the red fox is wrong and 32% of people responding to a questionnaire put out food for the red fox, or would feed them if they could. Indeed, most people who were kindly supplying food to urban foxes did so because they thought the fox would be unable to find enough nourishment in the city. They did not realize that city foxes are perfectly capable of finding their own food such as mice, rats, earthworms, moths and June bugs at street lamps, and fruits like strawberry, apples and raspberries.
No-one wants to re-create the situation in Charlottetown where, with extra feeding, many foxes became crammed into a few city blocks, and disease soon struck and spread. Mange reduced the Charlottetown fox population after 2017 to the extent that people rarely sighted these animals. We can help foxes recover good health by promoting a low density population that finds its own food. Meanwhile, Summerside is similarly densely populated with red foxes, and mange is present.
Nature PEI is interested in hearing from other municipalities, organizations and people who share our concerns. Let’s promote the re-wilding of the red fox together.
From The Park Bench Newsletter – Summer 2021 – City of Charlottetown
It seems normal that people were intrigued and excited by a high urban red fox population in Charlottetown a mere five years ago. Each sighting was a highlight, and fox kits at a den were like little puppies, playing with each other and, oh, so cute! Rare silver foxes were reported. People were also kind and believed they should provide food for foxes that might otherwise go hungry. Perhaps they did not believe that the fox could find natural foods for itself and its pups; foods such as fruit and berries, worms, grasshoppers, moths attracted to street lamps, mice, voles, and even rats, all found within the city. Indeed, people put out food for the red fox, treats as grand as raw steak and cooked meats, and as unnatural as sugary donuts, bread and hotdogs. With this extra feeding, foxes were living in unnaturally high densities in the downtown, and throughout the wider urban area. Biologists predicted that disease would spread quickly through this closely packed fox population. The word “pandemic” comes to mind.
Unfortunately, disease did strike as predicted. In December 2017, the first fox infected with mange was confirmed in Charlottetown. Mange is a cruel disease and anyone who has seen a sick, mangy fox with a bare tail, scabby skin and eyes crusted shut, does not want to see another one. The mite Sarcoptes scabiei, burrows into the skin of the fox and causes it to scratch incessantly, to the point where it stops hunting. In winter, loss of fur speeds death. In summer, a female can spread mange to all its pups with fatal results. Sarcoptic mange reduced the fox population in Charlottetown to the point that they were rarely sighted by urban residents.
Mange is still present, but as the red fox population recovers, should we hope that they will return to the previous situation, jam-packed in a few city blocks? There are many reasons to hope not. Consider a low density fox population that is not fed by people. These foxes will be healthier when left to consume natural foods, and a low density population will be less susceptible to disease. They may have a better immune system. Fox pups that were previously fed from cars will learn to hunt natural foods and will be more likely to survive. They will be less likely to suffer a collision with a car, a common cause of pup mortality.
For humans and their pets, living in close proximity to the red fox is not always a positive experience. The fox carries several parasites that transmit to domestic dogs, especially dogs that may consume fox feces. Besides mange, the worst of these may be two species of lungworms that often occur together and can cause breathing problems in dogs, described as equivalent to severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in humans.
People encouraging a high density fox population through feeding is risky business. Risky for a fox as it may contract diseases (Many biologists believe “A fed fox is a dead fox”). Risky for dogs that are highly likely to catch a parasite from a fox. Feeding a fox may seem like an act of kindness but it can backfire if it supports several fox families in a small area, allowing disease to transmit more readily. Let’s allow wild foxes to find their own food, and appreciate them for their ecological services in rodent control. We must stop treating them like pets. To be kind to foxes, please don’t feed them!
Nature PEI’s upcoming meeting will feature a presentation on the many natural wonders of New Brunswick through the eyes of avid local naturalists Don and Glenda McLelland. They will take us on a photographic journey from the Sackville Waterfowl Park all the way to Minister’s Island for a trip across the ocean floor. Along the way we will visit the Johnson’s Mills Shorebird Reserve, the famous Tidal Bore, Hopewell Rocks, the Artist’s Garden and Fundy National Park. Don notes that the one fascinating feature that these areas have in common is the highest tides in the world – up to 36 feet at Hopewell Rocks. This is a great opportunity to take a virtual trip off Island and to find lots of ideas for planning your own future trip.
You do need to reserve your seat.
Event: New Brunswick Boundwith Don and Glenda McLelland
Date and Time: 7:30 pm, Tuesday, June 1, 2021.
Location: Beaconsfield, the Carriage House, corner of West and Kent Street, Charlottetown.
Please note that due to COVID-19 restrictions, all participants must pre-register by contacting Connie Gaudet (to make sure that I don’t misplace your email, please send a separate message with “Nature PEI May meeting registration” in the subject line). You should receive a confirmation of your registration within a day or two. Due to limited seating, preference will be given to members.
Participants must enter the Carriage House via the front door, provide their contact information and apply hand sanitizer which is supplied; respect the two-metre social distance rule; wear a face mask that covers the mouth and nose.