Species At Risk Survey
As an outdoor educator for SD5, I took students from grades 2, 3 and 4 out to access species at risk at a wetland near Cranbrook to find animals that may be at risk from climate change, pollution and recreational footprints. Students wanted to go out sampling the wetland (do a baseline study) to find all the species there, keeping in mind non-native invasive species too. They also wanted to help species cope by building homes and dens for shelters so they would be able to come back at a later date and enjoy understanding the relationships and adaptations these wonderful animals have, and help save them from climate change.
Students went out to the wetland to take samples with dip nets and buckets. They walked gently around the wetland looking on land and near the shore for signs of life. They took a few pictures and did a species at risk survey. They counted and identified animals and plants that they found and reflected on other climate change, pollution and recreational factors that may influence their counts, and organized their sampling by documenting their data into a survey. Afterwards students built shelters and hibernation dens to help animals cope from climate adaptations so they will hopefully be able to study them in the future. All of their data was sent into provincial databases for future management plans on species at risk and climate change in Canada.
Reflection & Celebration
With the amount of time we had and the limited supply of equipment, we found one long-toed salamander and eggs, which although it is not a species at risk, is a good indicator of wetland health; a lot of baby crayfish which are non-native to the area; many water fowl babies, most of which are loons that dive deep under water to get fish; crayfish and salamanders; and many dog tracks in the mud. We also noticed recreational damage and people fishing on the other side. Rainbow trout, which are not species at risk but feed the birds and other animals here, can be found in the lake and are also known to eat turtles. Four western painted turtles, which are a species at risk, were seen in a part of the wetlands that is not very accessible to humans, which helps protect them. No frogs or eggs were found, but a lot of invasive milfoil weeds growing at and around the edge of the wetland, which salamanders hide under and feed on. All together we found the wetland to be healthy, but turtles and long-toed salamanders could be at risk of being further endangered since we only found a few. No male species we found just the female and her eggs.