Reindeer or Caribou?

Reindeer or Caribou?
When it comes to wildlife, no other species symbolizes the Holidays more than the reindeer. Their incorporation into Christmas literature dates back to the early 1800s, though the roots of the association likely stretch back much further, to Norse mythology and the Scandinavians’ domestication of reindeer to pull sleds. Whatever the legend’s origins, the eight tiny ungulates depicted pulling Santa’s sleigh bear a remarkable resemblance to the caribou found here in BC. Though there are some generalized morphological differences between reindeer and caribou between reindeer and caribou , they are one and the same species: Rangifer tarandus. In North America, the term “reindeer” is usually applied to domesticated caribou, while in Europe, reindeer is used as the blanket term for any animal belonging to the species. Within Rangifer tarandus exists anumber of subspecies. All caribou in BC are classified as belonging to the woodland subspecies ( Rangifer tarandus caribou ). There are 52 herds of woodland caribou in the province, which can be further divided into three ecotypes: the Boreal, Northern Mountain and Southern Mountain Caribou.  An ecotype is a genetically-distinct group of animals within a species that have adapted to a specific set of environmental conditions. This means that,...
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Stressed? Head Outdoors to put some Happy in your Holidays

Stressed? Head Outdoors to put some Happy in your Holidays
Making time to get outdoors and connect with nature is a great way to reduce stress during what is often a hectic time of year. Even taking a short break to immerse yourself in a natural setting has been shown to  improve mood , and even boost performance on tasks requiring sustained mental focus. It can be as easy as bundling up for a walk through your neighborhood greenspace, but you may also want to check out the following conservation-themed events put on by our partners this holiday season: Christmas Bird Count: The annual Christmas Bird Count kicks off this Sunday. Find a count near you and participate in the longest-running citizen science survey in the world. Started by the Audobon Society on Christmas Day in 1900, this early winter bird census involves thousands of volunteers across the Western Hemisphere counting birds in designated areas over a 24 hour period. The counts are held on specific days between December 14th and January 5th. Anyone can participate (it’s free!) but you have to make arrangements in advance with the person designated as circle compiler. You can get the contact details for the circle compiler in your area here  from Bird Studies...
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The Value of Volunteers

The Value of Volunteers
In this new video about the Blackburn Lake restoration project , Carrina Maslovat of the Salt Spring Island Conservancy ( SSIC ) speaks about the incredible contribution that volunteers have made to recreating wetlands on the former golf course property. “This project, which has been organized by SSIC, would not have happened except for the huge number of volunteers that have helped us, especially with the planting,” says Maslovat. Over the past month, volunteers put approximately 1800 plants in the ground, representing 52 different native species ranging from cattails and sedges to upland shrubs and trees. “We’re planting a huge range of native shrubs here: some of them will be fantastic for nesting habitat and others have berries on them to provide food for crossbills and towhees,” explains Maslovat. Planted species also included hummingbird favourites such as red-flowering currant and hedge nettles. “This should be a wetland full of bird life,” Maslovat concludes. Native frogs and bats will also benefit from the recreated wetland habitat.   HCTF has supported this project through both our Enhancement & Restoration and PCAF granting programs, the latter of which emphasizes volunteer contributions to conservation activities.   Click here to watch another video about the...
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Marvelous Mustelids

Marvelous Mustelids
This month, we’re blogging about HCTF projects focused on members of family  Mustelidae , a diverse group of carnivores commonly referred to as the weasel family. In British Columbia, members range from the tiny Least Weasel - only slightly bigger than a mouse and found primarily in open grasslands- to the infamous Sea Otter, a marine mustelid that can live its entire life without leaving the water and that weighs up to 100lbs. Like their sizes and preferred habitats, the conservation status of mustelid species also varies greatly. For example, BC’s American Marten and River Otter populations are (as a whole) thought to be secure, but species such as the Fisher, American Badger, and Wolverine are listed as endangered or of special concern. Because of their relatively low reproductive rates and specialized habitat requirements, even currently secure species like the marten require preventative action to ensure they stay that way. HCTF grants are being used both to try to improve conditions for mustelid species in trouble and to keep the more common species common.  Read about how Shannon Crowley and his colleagues at the John Prince Research Forest  are using the latest in GPS technology to study the effects of...
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Reminder: Photo Contest Ends Friday, November 14th

Reminder: Photo Contest Ends Friday, November 14th
There are only a few days left until entries close for HCTF’s photo contest. We’ve received some wonderful images of British Columbia’s freshwater fish, wildlife and habitats, and we’d love to see even more! The first place photo will win a $300 VISA gift card: see our photo contest page for full contest details, and be sure to send in your photos by 4:30PM on November 14th!