Wetlands are vital for waterfowl reproduction. Unfortunately, the encroachment by industry and humans is disconcerting. Wetlands across the western portion of North America are fast disappearing, as well—a decline in waterfowl reproduction. Schools and organizations can play a major lift for waterfowl by simply getting hold of Ducks Unlimited and participating in building nesting boxes and platforms for nesting. There is nothing hard or complicated about this.
As mentioned in a previous column, old and hollow dead trees, near wetlands, should not be cut down. These dead trees are not only a food plate for woodpeckers, but are also nesting places for Wood Ducks. Organizations can also help by building Wood Duck boxes. These boxes were secured to poles that had been driven down in open parts of the wetlands, and the duck box was securely screwed to the pole. It is important to secure a device, about 4 to 5 feet above the water level, which would prevent a predator from climbing up and getting into the nest. The same goes for the platform nest. And if you are going to be part of the project, things don’t stop there. Make sure adequate nesting material is placed on or in the nest (this should also be cleaned out just before winter). Designs can be obtained from Ducks Unlimited.
When building a platform nest, make sure it is over some rather deep water. This will prevent predators, such as foxes, raccoons, wolves and others, from wading out to raid the nests. Make sure the floating nest is well anchored to prevent it from drifting near the shoreline.
Back in that “unmentionable province” I originally hailed from, I belonged to The Orillia Fish and Game Conservation Club, the most-active club in Ontario for years. As a member, you had to commit to a number of specific work hours each year. We had a 100-acre forest, plus another section of land that held a large wetlands. We successfully managed the wetland for waterfowl. Schools came from 100 miles away to tour the wildlife sanctuary. To attract waterfowl, we got large logs and anchored them over the deeper water. These became resting areas for geese as well as ducks. Then we made floating platforms and actually put soil and rooted grass on them. This attracted the waterfowl. Here in the Yukon, there is a drastic need to protect the wetlands we still have … but time is running out. We must take a strong interest in our wetlands now, because without them, our wildlife life will also disappear. Time is fast running out.
We fenced in our wetlands and prohibited hunting. This is where the City of Whitehorse, as well as the territory, should get involved. We need a hardworking, dedicated group of residents to take on a wetland, as suggested above. Then we would need bylaws and territorial laws to protect the wetland from industrial intrusion, hunting or off-road vehicles that could damage the wetlands. Whitehorse is noted and promoted as the Wilderness City. Rather than just “talk the talk,” there is a need for us to start “walking the walk”!
I leave you with something to think about: “There is no exercise better for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up.” – John Holmes
The same can be said for our cherished wildlife.