By Greg Plain
AAMJIWNAANG FIRST NATION – The community mobilized on April 8 to look for ways to keep our mzhiiken (turtle) population in good shape throughout the Aamjiwnaang Territory.
Tania Morais from the Environment Canada was on hand to give an update.
“These are the turtle species that we have found to be at risk in your immediate area around Southwestern Ontario, and how Environment Canada is looking to protect the species at risk turtles as well as other species at risk in Aamjiwnaang Territory,” said Morais.
It is very important for people to know the species that are at risk in an area as well as the habitat where they can be found in and around Aamjiwnaang.
There are six types of mzhiiken around the Southern Ontario region that need the critical habitat protected. They are the following named turtles: Blanding’s Turtle – Eastern Musk Turtle (Stinkpot) – Northern Map Turtle – Spiny Softshell Turtle – Spotted turtle and the Snapping Turtle.
The species that are currently at risk are this way due to other species being brought to an area (Invasive Species), poaching and pet trade, pollution, disease and habitat loss. All of these can be found in the Southern Ontario.
Across Canada there are 521 species considered at risk of which over 200 are found of these species in Ontario alone. In communities with these mziiken that are at risk it would be essential to find the critical habitat for each of the turtles mark it and make sure it is kept safe and uninterrupted for the species.
There are various funds that are available through the Government of Canada including the Habitat Stewardship Program, Aboriginal Fund for Species at Risk, or Interdepartmental Recovery Fund that can be accessed to help communities protect the Species at Risk.
Aamjiwnaang has a very active Environment Committee that will ensure the mziiken population in the area is watched carefully and thrive on the Nation for years to come.
Aamjiwnaangs Environmental Website is at http://www.aamjiwnaangenvironment.ca/