Wildlife Advisory Committee
The Sydenham Sportsmen’s Association Wildlife Advisory Committee has two principal objectives. One is to engage in projects that directly conserve, protect and enhance area wildlife populations. The other is to promote and protect the opportunities for people to enjoy that wildlife. The SSA holds that proper wildlife habitat is essential to the very existence of wildlife. Remedies are sought and promoted for wildlife habitat that has effectively been rendered useless for wildlife reproduction through human acts, land use and misuse. For example, bluebirds have been in great decline, not only because of alteration of habitat, but also because of competition for nest sites with the introduced European starling. Wildlife Committee member Lorne Smith has spearheaded a club effort that is responsible for the construction, erection, inspection and maintenance of more that 6,000 bluebird nesting boxes, installed from Manitoulin Island to Orangeville. These efforts are paying very obvious dividends, as more and more families of this nearly extinct songbird are now being produced, and grace our area fields. Club members have also participated in the erection of wood duck houses, three different kinds of mallard nests, kestrel houses, chickadee and wren houses. The club is even helping to reverse deteriorating bat populations through the erection of bat boxes… mosquitoes, watch out!
Club projects are done on SSA lands, and through agreements with landowners and government agencies. Projects vary. For example, many species of wildlife utilize apples, but may apple trees are being out-competed and shaded out by over-topping nearby trees. SSA members have restored apple productivity through release cuttings in spruce/pine plantations, and by pruning mature apple trees. Lost and degraded wildlife habitat is being restored and enhanced in many locations by SSA planting of trees and shrubs favorable to wildlife. Club members, with OFAH and MNR funding, have begun to establish a demonstration wildlife enhancement area on 8 acres of recently purchased land immediately adjacent to the clubhouse property. In time, this property will be a valuable educational model for those who wish to actually do something positive about wildlife restoration in our great outdoors.
SSA observers make inspections and observations in local deer yards. The data derived permits recommendations to be made to the MNR, and provides the basis for emergency feeding and trail tramping when winter severity stresses go critical.
SSA members participate in the planning, funding, live-trapping and release of wild turkeys. The aim is to have true wild turkey strains regain their place in the local wildlife system.Wildlife Committee members create walking trails for general access to wildlife areas. Members review and comment on local environmental issues.The Wildlife Committee participates in debates with government and other agencies to counter destructive land use policies. Also, the Committee has actively opposed government policies that would erode or remove the public right to participate in hunting and fishing.
Some of the specific wildlife-oriented projects include:
- Arran Lake mallard nest structures.
- Isaac Lake mallard nest structures.
- Plan and direct establishment of demonstration wildlife management area.
- Long Swamp deer yard enhancement.
- Derby Tract apple tree release cutting.
- Wetland Wood Duck box erection and maintenance.
- McNabb Lake wetland “beaver baffler”.
- Conservation Authority forest access trails.
- Fencing wildlife cover against cattle and ATVs.
As well as specific wildlife projects such as the above, the Sydenham Sportsmen participate in agreements for the conservation-oriented management of certain lands.
The Wildlife Committee looks to the future by involving junior members in as many conservation projects as possible. We try to instill in our young people a solid respect for the natural world and our place in it.
The foregoing is only a partial list of the interests and activities of the Sydenham Sportsmen’s Wildlife Committee. Suffice it to say that many thousand of volunteer man hours have been and will continue to be expended in our quest to protect and enhance our natural world.