Wildlife Preservation Canada receives grant to protect species at risk in Ojibway Prairie

Lead Biologist Jonathan Choquette with Wildlife Preservation Canada at the Ojibway Nature Complex, February 9, 2023. (Photo by Maureen Revait)

A stewardship program to protect species at risk in the community, like the Massasauga Rattlesnake will continue thanks to a grant from the Ontario government.

Wildlife Preservation Canada was provided with a $423,580 grant through the Species at Risk Stewardship Program to undertake work to protect species within the Ojibway Prairie.

Lead Biologist Jonathan Choquette indicated the work will focus on the Massasauga rattlesnake but will also benefit other species at risk, like the Blanding’s Turtle and Dense Blazing Star plant.

“It’s boots on the groundwork, removing invasive species, creating microhabitat features that endangered reptiles use. It involves doing research to improve techniques so that we can actually reintroduce and restore populations that have become extricated,” said Choquette.

The Massasauga Rattlesnake at the Ojibway Nature Centre, February 9, 2023.

The Massasauga Rattlesnake at the Ojibway Nature Centre, February 9, 2023.

The Massasauga snake has not been recorded in the region by Wildlife Preservation Canada since 2019.

The grant will allow work to reintroduce the species to continue for another three years.

“[The Massasauga Rattlesnake] is part of our history, the people of Essex County have shared the land with these animals ever since there have been people here,” said Choquette. “It’s a symbol in our community, the LaSalle Vipers has it as a mascot, it’s a symbol of wilderness. It’s a symbol of the natural environment.”

The grant was announced at the Ojibway Nature Centre on Thursday afternoon by MPP Andrew Dowie and Minister of Environment, Conservation, and Parks David Piccini.

“Among the most striking aspects of the Ojibway Prairie Complex is its tremendous diversity of vegetation and animal life. That’s why protecting species at risk through community stewardship is essential, as we continue to ensure that the Ojibway Prairie Complex remains a cornerstone of our community for generations to come,” said Dowie.