The wildlife team monitors the wood turtle population. © Parks Canada
Research and Monitoring
On the wildlife team’s agenda:
Keeping an eye on frogs
Since 2005, park frogs have been the subject of close monitoring. The purpose is to assess whether populations have been able to hold steady despite the generalized decrease of amphibians around the world. Fortunately enough, they still appear to be present in the areas they have customarily occupied. In addition, restoration work at Bouchard Lake and Lac du Pimbina, which was aimed primarily at aiding speckled trout, also appears to have had a positive impact on frogs.
A tree species close to extinction
Thirteen plant species in the Park are designated as being at risk. For example, the tree known as the butternut is dying out due to butternut canker, a fatal disease caused by an invasive alien species of fungus. More than 80% of the park’s butternuts were infected as of 2009. At this time, we are actively gathering data in order to better understand the problem at hand.
A different angle on park carnivores
Close to 30 cameras have been set up in the park to snap animals live. These cameras are camouflaged in the woods and are tripped by motion detectors. With the resulting photos, the team can assess the abundance of particular species and check to see whether populations are stable and healthy. Importantly, they must do their work without disturbing or capturing animals. A first series of photos is taken in May and June to evaluate the abundance of black bear, while a second series is taken from mid-September to late November regarding the American marten and the fisher.
Improving the wood turtle’s habitat
In a recent effort, the park team has sought to increase the population living inside the park. To this end, 16 juvenile turtles, aged 4 to 11 years, were relocated in the park. Monitoring of the turtles by radio telemetry showed that they quickly adapted to the park habitat. It is indeed possible to increase the turtle population in the park. However, there is one problem that has not gone away – namely, the scarcity of suitable habitats, which stems directly from manmade changes occurring in the previous century.
The park team is currently assessing the potential impacts of re-establishing the natural water level of Wapizagonke Lake and the small watercourses located on its edges. In all probability, lowering water to its original level would contribute to improving the wood turtle’s habitat in two main ways. First, new beaches could be used as egg-laying sites. Secondly, the number of alder groves lining the lake and nearby streams would increase. In short, this measure would help bring back the wood turtle’s original conditions.
Interested in knowing more about these initiatives?
You can also enrich your visit by talking with park naturalists! They have the answers to your questions.