Saskatchewan is blessed with an abundance and variety of wildlife, but since settlement began, we’ve lost more than 75 percent of our natural landscape to urban and agricultural development. At one time, the rate of loss was 35 acres per hour, or more than 840 acres per day, province-wide. The effect on wildlife was devastating and many species were declining as their habitat was rapidly being destroyed.
It’s a serious problem that is still prevalent today, but fortunately there is something we can do to preserve what we still have for future generations.
Through our “Wildlife Tomorrow” program, the Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation is working with landowners to save wildlife habitat in our province.
Purpose The purpose of the program is to preserve habitat in its natural state for all species of wildlife, and to recognize the landowners that support this conservation effort by setting aside a few acres of their land for wildlife use. Without the landowner preserving habitat on his own land, many species of wildlife will be lost. Through private stewardship programs, such as Wildlife Tomorrow, many thousands of acres of habitat are preserved and hundreds of landowners are recognized. Recognition and a pat-on-the-back goes a long way to ensuring a tomorrow for our cherished wildlife resources.
Signage Successful applicants will receive an 18″ x 24″ Wildlife Tomorrow gate sign, depicting the Sharptail Grouse, Saskatchewan’s provincial bird.
- Land must contain suitable habitat for wildlife.
- No burning, clearing, or draining is allowed.
- Minimal grazing is permitted.
- Farmsteads and schoolyards must be uninhabited (abandoned) although they can be used for machinery and grain storage, etc.
- This is a gentleman’s agreement and can be cancelled at anytime.
Wildlife Tomorrow Many different parcels exist within the “Wildlife Tomorrow” program. The criteria for selecting a site for the “Wildlife Tomorrow” program is primarily its value as habitat for wildlife.
Slough – any water body that is one acre or larger with sufficient depth to retain water throughout a normal year. Nesting cover is not required but does enhance the value of the water body significantly.
Bush – a parcel of land one acre or larger which contains sufficient cover to harbor wildlife. Bush can be composed of many varieties or combinations of species.
Native Prairie – this could well be one of the most overlooked parcels of wildlife habitat in Saskatchewan. Native prairie harbors many varieties of wildlife, from sharp-tailed grouse to pronghorn antelope. In most cases native prairie also contains small patches of buck brush, shallow coulees, and some of the highest protein feed available in winter months.
Marginal Land – this type of terrain is found throughout much of Saskatchewan, and refers to land that is not well suited to agriculture. Coulees, rocky areas, marsh’s saline and alkaline areas, all fall within this definition. In many cases this type of terrain is well suited for wildlife use. Even though little thought is given to breaking this type of soil, it is still threatened by the ever-increasing demand for cultivated ground.
Livestock Pastures – pastureland can and does provide many thousands of acres of wildlife habitat. Through moderate grazing, wildlife and domestic stock can co-exist with little conflict. Many pastures contain virgin prairie, trees, shrubs, or wetlands. Provided enough grass is available for the domestic stock to graze, little damage occurs in the bush or trees.
Abandoned Farmsteads – most areas of Saskatchewan south of the forest fringe contain abandoned farmsteads. Though the buildings may be in various states of disrepair, the trees, shrubs, and grass provide a home to a number of wildlife species. Today in areas that are intensively cultivated, these locations may be the only islands of habitat left for our wildlife. These abandoned farmsteads must be uninhabited, although they can be used for machinery and grain storage, etc. In some cases no buildings remain on the property, however if the landowner agrees not to burn, clear, or spray the farm site, it qualifies under the “Wildlife Tomorrow” program. The gate sign recognizes the landowner and may honor the pioneer family as well.
Undeveloped Road Allowances – a typical 66 foot undeveloped road allowance that hasn’t been cleared or put to another use could provide eight acres of wildlife habitat per mile. There are many of these in the province that can be preserved with approval from the Rural Municipality Council. The signs recognize the R.M.’s contribution and discourage unnecessary traffic by announcing that the area is protected.
Heritage Schoolyards – the Heritage Schoolyard is similar to the abandoned farmsteads in that they were established about 6 miles apart across southern Saskatchewan. Though the buildings may have long since been removed, the grass, trees, and shrubbery still remain. The local rural municipal office and school district board office may be able to assist with such site locations and present ownership.
The Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation would like to thank the following contributors to the Wildlife Tomorrow program: BP Canada Energy Company , EcoAction, and the Fish & Wildlife Development Fund.