Great Canadian Parks / Saskatchewan

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The Parks / Saskatchewan / Grasslands National Park






Birdlife is plentiful; common species include horned larks, Sprague's pipits, lark buntings, and black-billed magpies. Long-billed curlews, and the great grey and short- eared owls are quite rare and numbered among the endangered species are the peregrine falcon, the ferruginous hawk, the longerhead strike, and Baird's sparrow. The Burrowing owl, once well adapted to prairie life, prepares its nest by refurbishing the holes abandoned by gophers, badgers and prairie dogs, and prefers an open treeless habitat. The natural prey of larger hawks and prairie animals, it is at risk because of habitat loss, pesticide use, road kill and hunters. Waterfowl nest in the potholes and the open grasslands are still home to the sage grouse and sharp-tailed grouse. Painted turtles, short- horned lizards, prairie rattlesnakes, the yellow-bellied racer, the plains spadefoot toad and the Great Plains toad are all protected inhabitants of the park.

 

Commonly seen mammals include the pronghorn antelope, mule deer and white-tailed deer. The rich wildlife of the prairie, where bison herds took days to pass a given point and the elk, grizzly and cougar roamed everywhere, will never be seen again. The black- footed ferret and greater prairie chicken are thought to be no longer in the grassland regions. The Frenchman River Valley is the only place in Canada where you can still see the black-tailed prairie dog in its natural habitat. Presently there are some 14 colonies in the park. A critical species in the ecosystem, its existence means the survival of the coyote, fox and badger as well as the burrowing owl and other endangered species. The Swift Fox once made its home on the Canadian prairies but settlement took its inevitable toll - habitat loss, trapping, and poisoning directed at coyotes and wolves annihilated these harmless little canines until by the 1930Žs they were gone. Today, efforts to re- introduce a self-sustaining, wild population - a small but meaningful response - is meeting with some success.

 

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