Tasty solutions for invasive grey squirrels

GreySquirrelPasty Tasty solutions for invasive grey squirrels

Grey Squirrel Pasty – moist and sweet wild meat (via metro.co.uk)

Eastern Grey Squirrels are the latest invasive species to run amok on Vancouver Island.

Since a few of them broke out of a game farm in Metchosin in 1966, Eastern Grey Squirrels have multiplied in population and have been steadily travelling north.

Why do Eastern Grey Squirrels pose a problem?

  • Their teeth keep growing and therefore they chew..on everything – trees, bark, fascia boards and even wires.
  • Their powerful claws can rip apart flashing on roofs. “Squirrels do more damage in attics than mice and rats put together,” said one pest controller.
  • They strip the bark from young trees to get at the sap beneath, girding and killing the trees. Stripping also makes trees vulnerable to disease
  • They chew on acorns that fall from endangered Garry Oak trees, preventing their germination
  • They eat native lily bulbs such as camas (Camassia spp.) in Garry Oak ecosystems and other flower bulbs
  • They compete with native birds for nest cavities and bird feeders
  • They eat birds eggs and nestlings
  • They pose a threat to native red squirrels and the endangered Garry Oak (Quercus garryana) forests.

As the population density around Victoria has increased, more and more pest controllers have been called upon to trap the animals. In some cases the captured animals are re-released farther north on the island, thus exacerbating the situation.

The continued release of gray squirrels and the favourable habitat over large parts of Vancouver Island make a continued and rapid expansion of the gray squirrel population appear unavoidable.

The North American red squirrel have already had their habit diminished from urban development and the encroachment of another alien species, Scotch broom.

In 2009, groups in the U.K. got together and decided on ways to deal with the exploding population of Eastern Grey Squirrels which were introduced to Britain in the 1870s. One of the solutions has been to set up a program where local butchers prepare grey squirrels for consumers and restaurants. The taste has been compared to duck.

Why not do that here? Grey squirrels are listed as “Schedule C” animals under the Wildlife Act, which means they can be captured or killed anywhere in the province and at any time.

Sources: Impacts and Management of the Alien Eastern Grey Squirrel in Great Britain and Italy: Lessons for British Columbia
http://www.bcinvasives.ca/invasive-species/invasive-organisms/eastern-grey-squirrel
http://www.introsquirrel.ca/invasion.html

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Qualicum Beach Planning Report

Qualicum Beach residents have a new Village Neighbourhood Planning Project report to review, it is available online and will be presented at the next council meeting on Monday, May 28,2012 starting at 7pm in the Qualicum Beach Civic Centre. Here are some of the highlights:

Barriers and Incentives:

• Many current businesses are going through a difficult period for a number of reasons, many of which are outside of the Town’s control.
• Large-format commercial development in the Wembley Mall area is a potential threat to the local economy;
• Vibrant commercial activity in downtown Qualicum Beach is a part of the identity of Qualicum Beach. It is one of the Town’s most treasured amenities.
• The high school, while no longer at risk of closure according to the current school board, would benefit from more housing opportunities and local economic activity in accordance with the OCP.
• The market demand is weak for retail commercial or office beyond the capacity that already exists. In the mid to long term, demand is expected to return.

Recommendations:

  • long term planning projects such as the Waterfront Master Plan and Airport Area Plan will need to be developed as part of economic strategies that will provide a sustainable economic base in the long term.
  • short-term relaxation of DCCs as a part of the Village Neighbourhood Incentive Program if certain conditions are met.
  • encourage owners and developers to build at higher densities and make more intensive use of the limited land available in the Village Neighbourhood. In the opinion of staff, building commercial without residential on top is a lost opportunity.
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Strong Odour near French Creek

Have you noticed a strong odour near French Creek Harbour, close to the French Creek Pollution Control Centre? What is it? Good news, it is not the Pollution Control Centre.

The French Creek area is traditionally one of the most important herring spawning areas on the British Columbia coast.

Each year after the herring spawn, millions of eggs wash up on the beaches in the area, providing food for shorebirds and other wildlife. Later, as the eggs begin to rot, a strong odour of hydrogen sulphide is produced. Depending on the direction of the winds, the odour can be detected for kilometres. The beach that typically sees the most eggs is next to the French Creek Harbour, close to the French Creek Pollution Control Centre.

“The wind direction in this area is often onshore, which carries the odour towards the Island Highway,” explained Regional District of Nanaimo Chairperson Joe Stanhope. “I have lived on the beach for 70 years, so am extremely familiar with this yearly occurrence. People sometimes think the treatment plant is the source of the odour, but it is evident, particularly at this time of year, that the smell is the hydrogen sulphide from the decomposing eggs.”

The odour from the herring spawn generally starts to dissipate by the end of May, depending on the number of eggs that are deposited on the beach.

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Public Events on Rural Development

Many people expressed an interest to review the policies relating to subdivision development in rural areas in the Regional District of Nanaimo. All next week you can bring your thoughts on alternatives to conventional subdivision developments. What do you want to see for future land development? Bring your ideas.

The following public events are:

Wednesday, May 23rd – Arrowsmith Hall, 1014 Ford Road, Coombs
4:00pm to 7:00pm – Open House
7:00pm to 8:30pm – Workshop

Thursday, May 24th – Lighthouse Community Hall, 240 Lion’s Way, Qualicum Bay
4:00pm to 7:00pm – Open House
7:00pm to 8:30pm – Workshop

Saturday, May 26th – Cranberry Community Hall, 1555 Morden Road, South Wellington
12:30pm to 3:00pm – Open House
3:00pm to 4:30pm – Workshop

Tuesday, June 5th – Nanoose Community Hall (Library), 2489 Nanoose Road, Nanoose Bay
4:00pm to 7:00pm – Open House
7:00pm to 8:30pm – Workshop

You are also encouraged to visit www.ruraldevelopment.ca and fill out a short survey.

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Watershed Protection Program

Green building and water protection incentives are now available to residents for:

  • upgrading old wood stoves
  • installing domestic solar hot water systems
  • rainwater harvesting
  • grading site-cut timber for use in construction
  • conducting home energy assessments
  • installing a residential electric vehicle charging station

Those who achieve a high score on the Sustainable Development Checklist can be eligible for an additional incentive ranging in value from $500 to $1000.

Incentives are limited and available on a first come, first served basis.  Approval is required before you can claim rainwater harvesting.

For more information visit The Regional District of Nanaimo or email sustainability(at)rdn.bc.ca.

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Hamilton Marsh near Qualicum Beach

Are you looking for an interesting place to watch birds and nature?

Hamilton Marsh is the largest marsh wetland in the mid Vancouver Island area and is located just minutes from the Town of Qualicum Beach.

This is a peaty marsh, an oddity for this usually dry portion of eastern Vancouver Island. It is home to over 130 species of birds, numerous amphibians, and is one of the most important habitats on the island for native species of dragonflies.

To get there from Qualicum Beach, take Memorial Drive which turns into Highway 4 as you leave town.  Keep going straight (under the highway). At the bottom of the first hill turn right onto Hilliers Road South. There are two visitor parking lots on Hilliers Road South which are on the left hand side.

If you park in the second parking lot you will find an easy trail to the marsh where there is a wood pier for viewing.

Hamilton Marsh is 3 kilometres long and 1/2 kilometre wide. Hamilton Marsh and the forest that surrounds it are owned by Island Timberlands and may be used on an “at your own risk” basis.  Efforts to purchase this land by Ducks Unlimited Canada and the Regional District of Nanaimo have so far been rejected.

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