Species At Risk Assessment
The Species at Risk Act (SARA, 2002) and Ontario Endangered Species Act (ESA, 2007) prohibits harm to listed species.
We routinely carry out desktop screening risk assessments for clients to identify potential issues on properties being considered for major projects. Desktop assessments involve use of existing information and knowledge of a species, such as range and habitat requirements, to determine a likelihood of a species’ occurrence. Where there is a likelihood, and a desire for a project to move forward, we carry out field studies applicable to individual species.
Our staff have carried out numerous studies of species at risk over the years in both Ontario and Québec. Surveys for both terrestrial and aquatic species at risk have included those for Bobolink, Eastern Meadowlark, Little Brown Myotis (a.k.a. Little Brown B), Northern Myotis (a.k.a. Northern Long-eared Bat), Blanding’s turtles, Lake Sturgeon, Deepwater Sculpin, American Eel and more.
Lake Sturgeon Tagging Study
Kilgour & Associates, funded through the Environmental Damages Fund, completed a tagging study of Lake Sturgeon (Acipenser fulvescens) on the Spanish River. The study was designed to determine the use of potential spawning habitats by Lake Sturgeon, the amount of which had been previously estimated through a two-dimensional hydrodymanic model produced by our friends at Coldwater Consulting. A presentation of our work was presented at the Great Lakes Lake Sturgeon Coordination Meeting.
Gill nets were set near spawning habitats at the pulp mill in Espanola in late May 2014. Sturgeon were tagged using radio transmitters that have a life-expectancy of about 7 years. We were able to track sturgeon movements in and around the spawning habitats immediately after they were released. Receivers were set up on shore to track relatively precise movements of sturgeon in and around the spawning habitat, and to determine when they left the study area.
With the 7-year lifespan of the tags, there is the potential to be able to determine when these fish return to the spawning area in subsequent years. These various data will be useful in providing guidance on how hydro-electric operations in the Spanish River system can be optimized for this species.
Deepwater Sculpin Study
An inventory of Deepwater Sculpin (Myoxocephalus thompsonii), a species at risk in the Cottidae family, was conducted in five lakes in Québec (Grand lac Rond, Thirty-One Mile, Heney, Grand lac du Cerf, and Poisson Blanc). Deepwater sculpins were sampled using minnow traps at depths ranging from 21 to 135 metres. The species was captured in both Grand lac Rond and Thirty-One Mile Lake, confirming that the existing populations are still there. Two other sculpin species, the Slimy Sculpin (Cottus cognatus) and Spoonhead Sculpin (Cottus ricei), coexist with the Deepwater Sculpin in these lakes. There is no historical mention of the Deepwater Sculpin in Grand lac du Cerf and lac du Poisson Blanc and only the Spoonhead Sculpin was captured during the 2016 sampling. No sculpin species was captured in Lake Heney, the Deepwater Sculpin population in this lake having probably been extirpated. The results from this study will help the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) and other organizations concerned with the conservation of this species at risk to actively participate and make informed decisions.