Doing Less with Less – MNR’s Fish and Wildlife Monitoring Programs, Ontario

A Special Report to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario – Submitted by Gord Miller, Environmental Commissioner of Ontario, April 24, 2007

MNR is responsible for the protection and management of animal and plant species in Ontario, including advising planners and builders of infrastructure about the habitat values of lands proposed for development. The ministry conducts population inventories of less than 10 per cent of Ontario’s mammalian species, and there is evidence of limited capacity to monitor even high priority species such as moose, black bear and white-tailed deer. MNR relies heavily on third parties for monitoring and assessment of bird populations and habitat. The ministry also has a very limited capacity to inventory and monitor sport fish species and habitats.

Selection of Vertebrate Wildlife Indicators For Monitoring Sustainable Forest Management in Ontario

Margaret A. McLaren, Ian D. Thompson, James A. Baker
The Forestry Chronicle, 1998, 74(2): 241-248, 10.5558/tfc74241-2
Abstract

Part of a recently advocated method of sustainable forest development employs indicator species as fine filters to assess changes within ecosystems and landscapes. Researchers used a series of criteria based on biology, sampling methods, and legal or particular status to select vertebrate indicator species for the province of Ontario. The criteria for selection were applied in a hierarchical manner, with species ecology given primary importance, followed by sampling considerations, and status criteria. The latter represented certain societal weightings and political or featured management concerns. Species fitting the selection criteria were placed in a four-dimensional matrix (with axes: broad habitat type, age class, trophic level, and spatial scale), and species were then chosen from among the matrix cells. The exercise reduced the total vertebrate species in two forest biomes (Boreal and Great-Lakes St. Lawrence) to a relative few, from which the final choices were made primarily based on expert opinion. In Ontario, the species selected as indicators of biological diversity in the future will be used to test the underlying general hypothesis that forest management has no effect on species richness and species abundance, or the distribution of species in time and space.

This is an important and timely study with regard to preserving biodiversity in Ontario Forests with active logging as part of the management mix.

P.H.

Invasive Species Centre: 2012 Strategic Plan

Source: ISC web site

Introduction and establishment of non-native or invasive species (1) continues to be a global issue. Invasive species are considered to be the greatest threat to biodiversity after habitat loss (2). Economic losses associated with invasive species are also significant – annual biological invasion costs are estimated to be $1.4 trillion globally (3) (5% of the global economy), compared to $190 billion for natural disasters.

Ontario is particularly vulnerable to the threats of invasive species for a number of reasons, including: proximity to international and domestic vessel traffic that transit the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway System (70% of all goods imported to Canada arrive in Ontario through the Great Lakes St Lawrence Seaway System); high volume of international and domestic passenger traffic through Pearson International Airport; and high rate of urban and economic development which can stress ecosystems leaving them more vulnerable to establishment of invasive species.

There is a history of invasive species outbreaks in Ontario, including: zebra mussel; sea lamprey; emerald ash borer; garlic mustard; and gypsy moth. In 2002-03, the rapid spread of emerald ash borer and Asian long-horned beetle in Ontario highlighted the negative impacts of invasive species on Crown and private lands as well as within municipalities and urban forests. These outbreaks have exposed the province’s vulnerability due to lack of a coordinated response system.

Both the federal and provincial governments have responsibilities to protect Canada’s natural resources from invasive species. Through several Acts (Plant Protection Act: SC 1990; Great Lakes Fishery Convention Act: RSC 1955, and more recently, the Fisheries Act 2012) the federal government of Canada has a regulatory responsibility.

Sources:
1 For the purpose of this document, the definition in the 2004 Government of Canada Invasive Alien Species Strategy for Canada is adopted: “Alien species are species of plants, animals, and micro-organisms introduced by human action outside their natural past or present distribution. Invasive alien species are those harmful alien species whose introduction or spread threatens the environment, the economy, or society, including human health. Invasive alien species can originate from other continents, neighboring countries, or from other ecosystems within Canada.”
2 Sala et al. 2000; Simberloff et al. 2005
3 Pimentel et al. 2001

Lake Simcoe VHS Management Zone (LSMZ)

The objective of the new Management Zone is to address the further spread of Viral Hemorrhagic Septicaemia (VHS), which was confirmed in Lake Simcoe last year. The deadly fish virus has already been responsible for significant fish die offs in Lake Ontario, and was responsible for a fish die off in Lake Simcoe last year. VHS can spread to other inland waters and the spread of invasive species to Lake Simcoe by movement of commercial baitfish (alive or dead) into or out of the Lake Simcoe Management Zone. Management of some 70 commercial bait operators have retail locations or Bait Harvest Areas (BHAs) in the Lake Simcoe Management Zone area is the goal of the Management Zone designation. Existing controls for VHS Management Zone for other sectors (e.g. egg collections and stocking, etc.) are applied to new area of Lake Simcoe Management Zone. This move is considered an Interim Approach for Lake Simcoe, that has supplied a significant portion of the Ontario winter ice-fishery with baitfish. On August 21, 2012 Fisheries Policy Section staff met with Simcoe harvesters in Orillia to discuss potential interim options with the goals of minimizing the risk of spread of VHS ensuring bait availability for winter 2013.

P.H.