Kudzu (Pueraria montana var. lobata) – Historical Profile

Written by: Brandon Holden, Alison Kilpatrick, Jonathan Sukhra, Lily Vuong

Canadian Kudzu population along the shores of Lake Erie
Canadian Kudzu population along the shores of Lake Erie near Leamington, Ontairo. Photo courtesy of Mike Cowbrough (Cowbrough, 2016).


 The history of Kudzu, Pueraria montana var. lobata, started off in eastern Asia in primarily subtropical and temperate regions. The kudzu plant was introduced to the United States from Japan in 1876 at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. The vine was widely marketed in the Southeast as an ornamental plant to be used to shade porches and later promoted as a forage crop (McGroarty, 2010). Concerns revolving around soil erosion through the 1930s and 1940s led the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to recommend the planting of Kudzu as a preventative measure along steep slopes throughout the south (Forseth & Innis, 2004). The Soil Erosion Service, a subsection of the USDA went on to provide approximately 85 million Kudzu seedlings to southern farmers, and paid them to plant the seedlings as a means to further prevent soil erosion throughout the Southern United States (Forseth & Innis, 2004; Grebner, Ezell, Prevost, & Gaddis, 2011). These activities were supplemented through a civilian corps movement that encouraged the planting of the vine in public lands and parks (Forseth & Innis, 2004). Due to governmental promotion, Kudzu had a solid hold throughout the Southeastern United States by the early 1950’s (Grebner et al., 2011). Even though Kudzu was removed from the list of permissible cover plants by 1953 (Grebner et al., 2011), declared a weed by 1970 (Hinman, 2011) and finally added to the noxious weeds list by 1997  (Grebner et al., 2011), the plant was able to spread throughout America and has made its way across the border into Canada. Kudzu is currently found on every continent with the exception of Antarctica (Gigon, Pron, & Buholzer, 2014 ).

In Canada, kudzu was discovered near Leamington, Ontario in 2009 and the population was estimated to be at least 8 years old at the time (Lindgren et al., 2013). It is not currently regulated as a pest under any legislation in Canada (Lindgren et al., 2013), nor does it have an official status as a noxious weed under the Weed Control Act (Waldron, 2012).

In  the United States, kudzu has been able to quickly grow over and shade other vegetation, causing damage to crops, orchards, and forest plantations. The greatest monetary impact of kudzu growth has been felt by the forestry industry where the productivity losses of entire young forest plantations have been estimated between $100 million and $500 million per year (Lindgren et al., 2013). There is also concern that kudzu can host soybean rust (Phakopsora pachyrhizi), and crop damage and yield losses have been a problem for farmers (Lindgren et al., 2013). In the United States, kudzu has damaged power lines which costs power companies an estimated $1.5 million per year (Lindgren et al., 2013). Kudzu has also reportedly grown over rail lines and caused derailments, costing railroad companies a significant amount in control costs (Lindgren et al., 2013). Costs of control in national and state parks are also reported to be considerable (Lindgren et al., 2013).

Using climate suitability models of current and future climate conditions, it has been predicted that changes in the global climate will allow for kudzu to spread northward (Lindgren et al., 2013). Waldron (2012) believes that it is likely that the kudzu population near Leamington, Ontario will spread further into southern Ontario unless measures are taken to control it.


 Kudzu is a specialized plant that will grow in certain conditions, thriving to r-strat_animal_yellowunmanageable states if presented ideal conditions, and if found in locations where survivorship is low, could take years for seeds to germinate (Lindgren, C. J. et al). Kudzu’s ability to rapidly grow and take over a deciduous forest canopy stand can surpass any healthy forest ecosystem’s tree growth. It is possible for the vine to have multiple canopy layers that can total the entire biomass of a deciduous forest canopy (Forseth & Innis, 2004).  Kudzu’s resilience to methods of eradication is strongly based on its large roots which store large amounts of starch, nitrogen, and water. The roots proficiency to grow into the substrate at 0.03 metres in depth a day, weighing over 180 kg and extending as deep as 3 metres is only one of many factors associated with the persistence of this plant (Forseth & Innis, 2004). This vine also has the ability to maneuver and redirect its leaf angles in relation to the direction of the sun; this is called paraheliotropism (Forseth & Innis, 2004). The leaves can be in positions to receive full sun, parallel to the sunrays to lower temperatures, and steep angles to prevent wilting (Lindgren et al., 2013). Kudzu’s adaptive qualities threaten local biodiversity through high competition for expanding room and below ground for roots. Studies have suggested that some of the common methods for controlling invasive vines, such as mowing, may be inadvertently causing the plants to grow back even more aggressively, which is something to consider when exploring management options (Kartzinel, Hamrick, Wang, Bowsher, Quigley, 2015). Kudzu is also a ‘structural parasite,’ meaning that, rather than supporting itself, it grows on top of other plants and buildings to reach light. Its ability to reproduce and spread quickly allows it to quickly cover shrubs, trees, and forests, where it blocks the sun’s rays from the plants below it, decreasing or eliminating their photosynthetic productivity (Miller & True, 1986).


 The invasion of kudzu has proven to be costly to many industries in North America. With Kudzu being relatively new to Canada, and currently limited to a single outbreak, there is still a high probability that an effective management strategy can be implemented to control and eventually eradicate the vine from Canadian Shores. Some of the management options include doing nothing, grazing, chemical control, biological control, prescribed burning, and mechanical removal. These options are considered and assessed based on costs, benefits, and additional factors. Each option is explored in the following paragraphs and compared in Table 1.

There is the option to do nothing, however, seeing as kudzu is predicted to expand its range, this is not recommended. Kudzu will continue to be a burden on many industries if management of the species is not addressed. It may, however, be viable to focus efforts in controlling kudzu by utilizing it rather than removing it. One of these control measures is grazing by livestock. If heavily grazed on for 3-4 growing seasons, the root systems starve and this may effectively eliminate a kudzu population (Starr et al. 1999). However, vines can grow over fences and up trees, rendering them inaccessible to livestock (Lindgren et al., 2013).

A method used to manage kudzu populations is an herbicide called Glyphosate. In Mississippi, Glyphosate was used to tame kudzu and was successful in controlling 60-85% of the vine after 4 years (Lindgren et al., 2013). In some other states, regular use of Glyphosate with a backpack sprayer saw results of 80-100% success in just one season of use. Although herbicides have been effective against kudzu, it requires multiple and frequent applications (Minogue, Enloe, Osiecka, Lauer, 2011). Studies have shown that kudzu that has been controlled with herbicides, and shows no signs of growth, can emerge from its roots after a year, possibly more, of dormancy (Minogue et al., 2011). Some herbicide treatments have left the soil bare, making it difficult to reestablish native species, and does not halt the return of kudzu as it has no problem growing in disturbed areas (Minogue et al., 2011). In some cases, herbaceous species have been able to colonize areas where kudzu has been reduced chemically, however kudzu can return and overtop these species in a single growing season if the area is not closely monitored (Minogue et al., 2011).

Another form of control is prescribed burning. This process kills the foliage of the plant but also requires repeated applications to be effective (Starr, Martz, Loope, 1999).

There are several biological means that are already in place and more that may be implemented to control the growth of kudzu. Bacterial blights, insect herbivory, and insect seed predation occur in high levels in field populations of kudzu. Seed predation is quite prevalent, with up to 81% of seeds incurring damage in populations studied in North Carolina.  A study found two weevils that attacked the stems of kudzu and eight beetles that complete larval development in the kudzu roots. When evaluations of potential control agents are made, the range of the control agents must be considered. Efforts were made by the United States Forestry Service to find a biological control agent for kudzu. A “blackleg” fungus, a viral mosaic disease and a rust fungus have all been shown to cause mild injury to kudzu (Starr et al. 1999). Studies in China revealed that most of these biological control agents do not solely target kudzu, which is a risk to native species (Lindgren et al., 2013). More research needs to be done to determine the viability of biological control options.

Successful long term control of kudzu requires that the extensive root system be destroyed (Starr et al. 1999). As such, the mechanical removal of the entire root has proven to be effective in eradicating the species but is labour-intensive and time consuming (Starr et al. 1999). Another physical control method is close mowing but this requires frequent and repeated action (Starr et al. 1999). Close mowing has the same issues that grazing has as a control method because vines can grow up surfaces, which still requires alternative labour-intensive mechanical removal.

Table 1: Comparison of different potential management methods to deal with the invasive vine Kudzu. While time intensive, mechanical removal provides the greatest chance of success while reducing further negative impact on the environment.

Chart comparing the different Kudzu management method outlined above.



Cowbrough, Mike. (2016) Photo: Canadian Kudzu population, Lake Erie.

Forseth, I. N. Jr., & Innis, A. F. (2004). Kudzu (pueraria montana): History, physiology, and ecology combine to make a major ecosystem threat. Critical Reviews in Plant Sciences. 23(5):401-413

Gigon, A., Pron, S., & Buholzer, S. (2014). Ecology and distribution of the Southeast Asian

invasive liana Kudzu, Pueraria lobata (Fabaceae), in Southern Switzerland. EPPP Bulletin, 44(3), 490-501. Doi: 10.1111/epp.12171

Grebner, D. L., Ezell, A. W., Prevost, J. D., & Gaddis, D. A. (2011). Kudzu control and impact on monetary returns to non-industrial private forest landowners in Mississippi. Journal Of Sustainable Forestry, 30(3), 204-223. doi:10.1080/10549811.2011.530559

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Kartzinel, T. R., Hamrick, J. L., Chongyun, W., Bowsher, A. W., & Quigley, B. P. (2015).          Heterogeneity of clonal patterns among patches of kudzu, pueraria montana var. lobata, an invasive plant. Annals Of Botany, 116(5), 739-750. doi:10.1093/aob/mcv117

Lindgren, C. J., Castro, K.L., Coiner, H. A., Nurse, R. E., & Darbyshire, S. J. (2013). The biology of invasive alien plants in Canada (12): Pueraria montana var. lobata (Willd.) Sanjappa & Predeep. Canadian Journal of Plant Science. 93:71-95, doi:10.4141/cjps2012-128

McGroarty, M. J. (2010). How to control kudzu, the vine that ate the South. Kudzu’’ Retrieved from: http://www.freeplants.com/kudzu.html

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Minogue, P. J., Enloe, S. F., Osiecka, A., & Lauer, D. K. (2011). Comparison of aminocyclopyrachlor to common herbicides for kudzu (pueraria montana) management. Invasive Plant Science and Management. 4:419-426

Starr, F., Martz, K., Loope, L. (1999). Kudzu (pueraria lobata): An alien plant report. United States Geological Survey Resources Division. Retrieved from http://www.hear.org/species/reports/puelob_fskm_awwa_report.pdf

Waldron, G. E., & Larson, B. M. H. (2012). Kudzu vine, pueraria montana, adventive in Southern Ontario. Canadian Field-Naturalist. 162(1):31-33

Grey Wolf – Historical Profile

 Historical Profile

The history of the Gray Wolf, Canis lupus, in North America mirror’s it’s history in Europe. The European perspective of wolves arrived with settlers in the 1600’s and 1700’s and initial interactions were not confrontational because both wolves and humans were fearful of each other(Fritts et al., 1997; Stohr, 2012). As time progressed, settlers established larger farmsteads with more livestock resulting in the displacement of both wolves and their prey (Mazur & Asah, 2013; Stohr, 2012). The result was conflict between the remaining wolf packs that switched their food source to livestock. Pressure from landowners and ranchers resulted in a government sanctioned war on wolves with bounties paid for wolf hides in the late 19th century. More than 5,000 wolves were killed in the first year of this eradication effort (Emerson, 2016b). By the 1930’s wolves were almost extirpated from all western states with only a few animals remaining and very few viable breeding packs.

Image of old church ruins in Yellowstone National Park
The ruins of an old church in Yellowstone National Park illustrate the long history of humans on this landscape (Photo: Feltham, 2010).

Nothing changed in this regard for a long time. Wolves remained absent from the U.S. northwest without any viable populations in Yellowstone National Park. However, in 1995, 15 wolves were released in the park in an attempt to restore the population (Fritts et al., 1997). The effort was a success and wolves are now well established in the park with a population so large that it has become a source population for areas outside the park. Consequently, wolves and ranchers are again at odds because of wolf predation on livestock (Emerson, 2016a; Mazur & Asah, 2013; Stohr, 2012). The situation in areas around Yellowstone National Park has returned to conditions prior to the eradication of the gray wolf. Wolves are common and livestock losses are a regular occurrence. One element has changed. Wolves are a protected species now which prohibits ranchers from taking action and killing wolves that encroach on their land and kill livestock (Hawley et al., 2013; Hawley et al., 2009; Rossler et al., 2012).

Ecological Connections

r-strat_animal_outlineThe success of the eradication effort relates directly to the life history of wolves and their social nature. Wolves are k-strategists with slow population growth and populations that tend to stay stable at carrying capacity (Mech & Fieberg, 2015). Although wiping out the dominant male and female will result in subordinate females going into heat, the success of hunters and trappers generally resulted in the death of most of the pack leaving only a few animals dispersed over a wide landscape (Mech & Fieberg, 2015; Mech, 2014; D. W. Smith et al., 2010). Reproductive success was insufficient to counteract the mortality rate induced by human eradication efforts and population decline could not be reversed (Riley, Nesslage, & Maurer, 2004).

Vector_HumanIssues associated with reintroduction and a healthy wolf population are consistent with wolf ecology. Wolves are an apex predator that has adapted through social means to prey on large herbivores (Alcock, 1993; Vaughan, 1986). Humans have displaced native herbivores such as bison and elk in the areas surrounding Yellowstone National Park and replaced them with large domesticated herbivores such as cattle and sheep. For wolves, the landscape is essentially the same as it was without humans. Livestock and wild game are really no different from the ecological perspective of wolves. Therefore, losses in the ranching industry related to wolf predation are not unexpected.

Finally, reintroduction of species into a landscape where they have been absent for a long time frequently results in population growth that is so aggressive that the population overshoots the carrying capacity and then cycles above and below the carrying capacity before stabilizing. Wolf populations in the vicinity of Yellowstone can be expected to exhibit the same cycles resulting in some periods of larger than average wolf population. The abundant domesticated food supply reinforces this trend because larger, denser predator populations can be supported when there is abundant food (Rich et al., 2013).

Critical Assessment of Management Options

Wolves have been reintroduced successfully in a landscape where they were absent for more than half a century (Fritts et al., 1997). The success of this reintroduction has resulted in renewed conflict between wolves and ranchers. Four primary options are considered here and assessed based on costs, benefits, and additional factors. The options are; do nothing, eliminate wolves from the landscape, cull wolves, and livestock protecting dogs. Each option is addressed in the following paragraphs.

Doing nothing is always an option. In some situations, taking action may result in more harm than good or taking action will may not result in any real change resulting in wasted resources of time and money. Not taking action on this issue is not a viable option. First, the cost of monitoring losses and compensating ranchers for the predated livestock is too high (Sommers et al., 2010). With no revenue associated with this pay out, the cost is a drain on the U.S. economy. Secondly, the confidence of ranchers has already been eroded because the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, and multiple environmental groups have gone back on their word. The wolf population has grown to a size well beyond the size indicated in initial agreements to allow the reintroduction of wolves to the area (Mech, 2014). Yet, no action has been taken to mitigate the impact of these wolves on the ranching industry. Finally, decisions regarding the status of endangered species are being made by unqualified and misinformed politicians who are trying to please their constituents (Mazur & Asah, 2013). The result is a dangerous precedent for public pressure taking priority over sound science in environmental decision making (Way & Bruskotter, 2012). Taking no action will only serve to exacerbate the situation.

Wolves were successfully extirpated from most of the U.S. in the past and they could be again. However, the effort put into reintroduction and opposition from environmental groups prevent this option from being a viable solution now. (Photo: New York Times, 2015)

Extirpating wolves is an option. Wolves have been successfully eliminated as a threat to livestock in the past and they can be eliminated again (Riley et al., 2004). The result would be satisfactory to ranchers and it would eliminate much of the cost associated with the need to compensate ranchers for their losses. Eliminating wolves would potentially generate revenue in the form of permits to hunt wolves in the states where they are deemed to be a problem. Unfortunately, the pressure from environmental groups both inside and outside the U.S. has already resulted in the wolf populations growing beyond the initial agreed upon population size(Mazur & Asah, 2013; Perry, 2012; Smith et al., 2014) Environmental groups have lobbied successfully to keep the wolves on the endangered species list and they have even been responsible for law suits against the federal government over practices used to manage the current conflict (Emerson, 2016a).  The opposition to this method of resolving the conflict will be too strong.

Culling wolves has also been used as a management strategy. However, recent research indicates that reducing the number of wolves may result in pack splintering and an increase in livestock predation. (Photo: New York Times, 2015)

Culling wolves is another option to be considered. Culling wolves in areas outside the park should effectively reduce populations and reduce predation on livestock. Both ranchers and moderate environmental groups could support this option. However, data suggests that this solution is unlikely to successfully reduce livestock predation (Wielgus & Peebles, 2014). If the alpha male and or female are eliminated from the pack and some pack members remain, the pack generally falls into a state of social chaos where the remaining pack members struggle to re-establish social order (Rutledge et al., 2010). Packs often splinter and become multiple smaller packs and some individuals end up on their own(Creel & Rotella, 2010; Rutledge et al., 2010). When this happens, multiple females may actually go into estrous (heat) resulting in an increase in the number of wolf cubs produced in the area. The splinter packs and lone wolves also continue to turn to livestock as a food source. Consequently, livestock predation may actually increase after a cull (Rutledge et al., 2010; Wielgus & Peebles, 2014). Therefore, consistent and ongoing culling of the wolf population will result in potential for more wolves and more livestock predation.

Livestock guardian dogs may be a viable option in some circumstances. These dogs form a pack that occupies the pasture and excludes the wolves from the territory. Different breeds are used to form a pack of dogs that is loyal, protective, and formidable. (Conservation Media, 2013)

An ecological approach to resolving the conflict may be the most viable option. Livestock protecting dogs have been used for centuries to protect livestock from large predators ranging from wolves to big cats (Gehring et al., 2010; Hansen et al., 2002). The success of this strategy centres on the concept that the dogs occupy the ecological space/niche where the livestock are raised which excludes occupation by large, wild predators such as wolves. Livestock protecting dogs play the role of a wolf pack(Gehring et al., 2010; Van Bommel & Johnson, 2014). Some livestock losses will still be a reality but the frequency of predation will be dramatically reduced and dogs may even have a positive influence over the prevalence of pathogens spread by other wildlife species (VerCauteren, Lavelle, Gehring, & Landry, 2012). The economic cost of this option is greater than extirpating wolves. However, the cost is far less than the cost of doing nothing and more economically and ecologically sound than culling wolves (Gehring et al., 2010; Hansen et al., 2002; Otstavel et al., 2009; Smith et al., 2000; Van Bommel & Johnson, 2014; VerCauteren et al., 2012). Research tracking the success of this option in North America is lacking; therefore, implementation of this solution should be accompanied by research to fully understand the economic, social, and ecological implications of using livestock protecting dogs to protect livestock. Table 2 provides a visual summary of the options presented above.


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Elk (Cervus canadensis) – Historical Profile

Written by: Ashley McNeill, Chris Reinhart, Cassie Luff, Danielle Young

Historical Profile

The Elk’s history in North America matches numerous other species. After the Europeans settled in North America, the increasing population had a higher demand for food, this caused over hunting and destruction of habitat for agricultural purposes, which ultimately lead to the species being extirpated from Ontario in the late 1800’s to the early 1900’s (Witmer, 1990). Elk remained absent from all of Ontario until the late 1990’s when the province, along with other partnering organizations, took on the task of introducing a herd they acquired from Elk Island National Park in Alberta. Four sites were chosen based on the potential to support these herds. While the Elk have survived, they are slowly increasing their populations. The most viable herd resides in the Bancroft-Haliburton area. This herd has a ratio of 8 mature bull Elk to 100 Mature cow Elk. In order to achieve maximum productivity, the ratio should be 20:100 mature bulls to cows (McCorquodale et. al., 2011). The low numbers of bull Elk in  Bancroft is alarming as this area receives the highest hunting pressure . This leads to the over harvesting of mature bulls and therefore not enough males to mate with the females. This trend must be addressed as well as continually monitored to make any changes to avoid what happened over 100 years ago with the native Elk population. The growing population caused the establishment of large farms and ranches to be created on the historic foraging grounds of the Elk. This ultimately inhibited the species to naturally recolonize the areas. However, the Elk still tried and this created the conflict between ranchers and Elk we have today .

The problem arises between Elk and farmers or ranchers because of the environmental needs of Elk. Since they need vast areas of grasslands to forage throughout the summer, and those ecosystems are lacking all over North America and especially Ontario, the Elk turn to pasture lands and agricultural fields to meet their biological needs. This causes destruction of agricultural fields as well as the Elk grazing the pasture lands instead of the livestock, which costs the farmer money. Another major problem with Elk is that they act as vectors in spreading diseases to livestock they come in contact with. The most common and harmful being brucellosis, which causes abortions, retained placentas, male reproductive tract lesions, arthritis and bursitis (Rhyan et. al., 2013)


Ecological Connections

In the winter, elk herds return to lower valley pastures where elk spend the season pawing through snow to browse on grass or settling for shrubs that stand clear of the snow cover (Thrift, Mosley, & Mosley, 2013). The nature of elk is to locate to open grasslands. This has become an issue for farmers as the elk are attracted to their pastures due to the abundance of food available. Since Elk are closely related biologically to cattle, diseases are more transferable between the animals. Diseases such as brucellosis has been spreading to livestock. Brucellosis is associated with abortions, retains placentas, male reproductive tract lesions, arthritis, and bursitis in livestock. (Rhyan, Nol, Quance, Gertonson, Belfrage, Harris, & Robbe-Austerman, 2013). (Knight, 2014)
Although elk are attracted to grasslands, the introduction of anthropogenic factors has made the elk become more attracted to pastures, these factors include; hay and mineral salt blocks. Now not only are the elk grazing on pastures for grass but also for other essential resources. As a result, this increases pathogen transmission to livestock through indirect contact (Pruvot, Seidel, Boyce, Musiani, Massolo, Kutz, & Orsel, 2014).

Critical Assessment of Management Options

In addition to the earlier stated options to restrict the access of Elk in pasture lands, the purchase of guard dogs would be a smart investment for ranchers. The presence of guard dogs would provide an aggressive/protective force within the pasture land. Some of the top recommended dog breeds that provide this protection include; Pyrenean Mountain Dog, Maremma Sheepdog, Kangal, and the Spanish Mastiff. These species of canines have a large muscular biomass which makes them a strong competitor to predator species of the livestock they protect. The presence of the large dogs would provide a sense of danger towards the Elk, would influence them to migrate to another area away from the ranch to avoid the possible danger. The guard dogs would be beneficial in providing protection from other predators such as coyotes and wolves which tend to also cause problems for ranchers. In order to successfully use guard dogs in the ranch environment, it is beneficial to purchase the dogs as pups in order to create a bond between it and the livestock or to purchase adult dogs who are already trained for the job. The next step is to establish a set of commands for the dog(s) to follow, including “come” and “no” commands. The number of dogs needed for the ranch pasture is determined by the “size of the pasture, number of herd groups, topography, flocking instinct of livestock, fencing and guardian dog behaviour” (Redden, Tomecek, & Walker, n.d.). The investment in guard dogs for pasture protection, ranges in price considering the dog breed, the number of dogs and the cost of training. The cost for the first year is “estimated at approximately $1000, and decreases the second year to $500” (Redden, Tomecek, & Walker, n.d.) which is for proper care of the dog(s).

Another option is to actively manage the populations of Elk in high density areas. Actively managing the Elk could be done in a variety of ways with the most effective being allowing a greater number of tags to become available to hunters. As of 2011 the Ontario government allowed for the hunting of Elk. 70 tags were issued to individuals and parties. In order to allow a small herd of Elk to live in the area, the ministry could increase the number of tags given. By allowing hunters to target both bulls and cows based on the number of tags given out,  they could actively maintain the population at its carrying capacity. By increasing the limit of tags, you allow more hunters the opportunity to hunt Elk in Ontario. Since Elk are a prized big game species and normally hunters would need to go out west in either Canada or the States to hunt them, thus leaving the opportunity out of reach for the average hunter.  However, now that the species is present in Ontario again, it allows many hunters to participate in a new type of hunting, on that they have never experienced before. With the high demands of new hunters, this would increase the revenue that hunting brings into Ontario. In 2014-2015, Ontario residents spent 371 million dollars in hunting related tasks, with the Fish and Wildlife Special Purpose Account contributing 68.9 million dollars into fish and wildlife management (Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, 2016). Through active managing the Elk population, it would benefit numerous groups of people including farmers and ranchers, environmentalist, government agencies such as the MNRF and OFAH, and communities where the hunting will occur around through bringing in guided hunts and therefore revenue into the towns.

Another option to dissuade and prevent Elk from leaping into pasture land would be to modify an existing wire fence by adding a mesh fence extension onto it, creating a six-foot fence. Although the Cervidea spp. is capable of jumping a six-foot fence, it is not likely that the animal will do so just for food. Provided the existing fence is in good condition, this method is very cost-effective, as an additional however-many feet is added to the fence by welding a steel rebar onto the existing rebar and attaching the mesh onto the existing fence. This method is proven to be 100% effective in keeping out elk from pasture land (Knight, 2014). Since this method is not only effective but also cost effective, this method will be the superior method for Elk management in pasture lands.

Table 2: Comparison of doing nothing, modified fencing, and using guardian dogs as a solution to resolve livestock losses from getting diseases from elk. Both modified fencing and guardian dogs reduce livestock deaths as well as save money for the farmer. Overall, both options will have valuable results.


Redden, Tomecek, & Walker. (n.d.). Livestock Guardian Dogs. Retrieved from http://sanangelo.tamu.edu/files/2013/08/Livestock-Guardian-Dogs1.pdf

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Thrift, T. M., Mosley, T. K., & Mosley, J. C. (2013). Impacts from winter-early spring elk grazing in foothills rough fescue grassland. Western North American Naturalist, (4), 497

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McIntosh, T.E., Rosatte, R.C., Hamr, J., & Murray, D.L. (2014). Patterns of Mortality and Factors    Influencing Survival of a Recently Restored Elk Population in Ontario, Canada. Restoration        Ecology, 22(6),806-814. doi:101.111/rec 12145

Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, O. (2016, March 16). Fish and Wildlife Special       Purpose Account Annual Report 2014-2015. Retrieved February 19, 2017, from Ontario.ca, https://www.ontario.ca/page/fish-and-wildlife-special-purpose-account-annual-report-2014-15

Pruvot, M., Seidel, D., Boyce, M., Musiani, M., Massolo, A., Kutz, S., & Orsel, K. (2014). What attracts elk onto cattle pasture? Implications for inter-species disease transmission. Preventive Veterinary Medicine, 117(Special Issue: SVEPM 2014 – supporting decision making on animal health through advanced and multidisciplinary methodologies, 2014 Society of Veterinary Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine conference), 326-339. doi:10.1016/j.prevetmed.2014.08.010

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Rhyan, J. C., Nol, P., Quance, C., Gertonson, A., Belfrage, J., Harris, L., & … Robbe-Austerman, S. (2013).   Transmission of Brucellosis from Elk to Cattle and Bison, Greater Yellowstone Area, USA, 2002-2012. Emerging Infectious Diseases, 19(12), 1992-1995. doi:10.3201/eid1912.130167

Wagner, K. K., R. H. Schmidt, and M. R. Conover. 1997. Compensation programs for wildlife damage in North America. Wildlife Society Bulletin 25:312–319.

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Yott, A., Rosatta, R., Schaefer J., Hamr, A., Fryxell, J. (2011) Movement and Spread of a Founding Population of Reintroduced Elk (Cervus elaphus) in Ontario, Canada. The Journal of the Society for Ecological Restoration International.




Written by: Reid Van Kuren, Andrew Base & Arden Ehrenberg

Historical Profile of Water Hyacinth, (Eichhornia crassipes) :

The origins and expansion of Water Hyacinth, (Eichhornia crassipes) are largely agreed upon by experts as having expanded from tropical South America (Kaufman, 2007). The evidence is not only fossil based or calculated by its preferred habitat, but was clearly recorded through trading documents and expedition journals from the late 1800’s  as natives from the amazon region began to explore and trade with their northern neighbours (Day, 2003). Water Hyacinth plants would be brought along on expeditions to be used for medical purposes. As settlers, explorers, and traders utilized and discarded these plants, the theory is that the plant waste would have been introduced to many aquatic and semi aquatic ecosystems across North America. (Castello, 2010). Some of these areas include the southern states of Texas, Louisiana, and Florida. Since Water Hyacinth’s ideal temperature range is 25-30 °C, these perfect climate conditions, combined with vast water bodies, likely allowed it to spread to water basins not directly visited by travellers. Water Hyacinth is considered extremely aesthetic and was often traded to settlements or offered as prizes (Day, 2003). These are the same criteria which allowed Water Hyacinth to expand to Africa, South Asia, and Australia in the 1880’s, and the Congo and river Nile in the 1950’s. Not only would these areas meet the Water Hyacinth species preferred growing conditions, but would have likely been used for the same purposes since it would have been impossible for Water Hyacinth to naturally disperse that far. (Castello, 2010).

Currently, Water Hyacinth is found around the entire world in both freshwater and salt water locations, often in slow or stagnant water basins. Since it can survive or thrive in the min/max range of 12-35°C, the only places Water Hyacinth is not found are polar and sub-polar regions. For example, Russia, Norway, and most of Canada are too cold for its growth and therefore do not need to worry about its invasive nature. Water Hyacinth has been found in Southern Ontario however, as it shares the same climates as Michigan or Maine.


Ecological Connections

Water Hyacinth has earned the title as a nuisance species for the same reason as all other pest species – it’s negative and destructive effect on human inhabited areas. While the ideal temperature for Water Hyacinth is 25-30 °C, it can grow rapidly and withstand temperatures as low as 12°C and high as 35°C, meaning it has a broad temperature tolerance.  Water Hyacinth is known as an r-strategist species; it grows rapidly, and as a species it is tough to kill. While not all invasive species are considered nuisance species, Water Hyacinth shares many human-favoured habitats, such as saltwater shorelines, or freshwater rivers, streams, and lakes. The plant has caused problems for boaters, fishermen, and hydro generation as it outcompetes local organisms, gets caught in nets, lines, engines, and water passages (Oyani, 2011).

Water Hyacinth will grow in warm and stagnate or slow moving water, but it can also survive colder and faster moving waters. It may not grow in this situation, but it will survive and it will travel until more favourable conditions are found. Water Hyacinth reproduces using two methods. The first, is its typical r-strategy of reproduction, meaning each plant will send out hundreds of seeds to cultivate in the surrounding ecosystem. Many will die or fail to take root, but some will survive and cultivate, forming new plants along the shore, or in rich soils (Oyani, 2011). The other is its ability to reproduce vegetatively. Rather than rely on seeds, Water Hyacinth will sprout lateral shoots, which form stems, and fan out into new plants creating a mat (Castello, 2010). This process is repeated until all the surface water is covered, or the plant is damaged/destroyed enough to prevent it. If Water Hyacinth is not managed, or there is not a natural hindrance to its growth, the surface mat will eventually block out the sun, preventing underwater species from receiving energy. Once this occurs, photosynthesis decreases, oxygen levels decrease, and underwater organisms will die. Water Hyacinth is also known to choke out shoreline plants.

Assessment of Management Options

There are typically four primary management strategies used to combat Water Hyacinth around the world: Herbicides, machinery, manual removal, and competing species introduction. It is important to note that in nearly all situations and countries around the world, management strategies have failed. Despite research, monetary investment, and various tactics used by multiple governments and industry experts; existing methods have often been insufficient to contain the aggressive propagation of the weed and viability of its seeds.(Gichuki, 2010).

Even though Water Hyacinth can find preferred growth conditions across the equatorial zones, not all cultures have the same opinions or issues with Water Hyacinth. In Brazil for example, there is a local beetle called the N. buchi, which feeds on Water Hyacinth and is able to curtail the spread and reduce its abundance to less destructive levels (Richardson, 2003). By keeping shorelines clear, and allowing patches to form in the mats, aquatic ecosystems can still perform their functions unimpeded. In New Zealand and controlled parts of the U.S., Water Hyacinth is cultivated for medicinal purposes, similar to the pioneers of the late 1800’s, but on a much grander scale (Richardson, 2003).

For areas without a natural management option, the effects of Water Hyacinth can be much more severe. In Kenya, local fisherman and boaters require passage and the ability to fish for their livelihoods and survival. The government there has spent millions building and using machines to “chew up” the mats of Water Hyacinth, but these efforts have failed as the plants regrow and expand too quickly, and the costs of the operations become too much to be worthwhile (Oyani, 2011). There has not been a proven management strategy yet in Kenya.

Regarding herbicide, pesticide, and other chemical use; this method is considered cheaper, but also risks degrading soil and water quality through contamination, and risks bioaccumulation. Different chemicals such as Glyphosate and 4-D acid have been used in Ontario, but due to the volume and resilience of Water Hyacinth, the use of chemicals cannot keep up with the spread of this water weed (Gichuki, 2010). While the results are effective and immediate, the adverse effects on other organisms is often too great a risk.

Perhaps one of the biggest failures in management practices is the lack of cooperation and unification among communities. Despite being a banned aquatic species across the United States, Africa, and other countries – Water Hyacinth is still grown recreationally in private ponds, or sold in nurseries (CLOC, 2015). The combination of the above failures, mixed with the unwillingness from the community suggests another management option: do nothing. For the time being, Water Hyacinth may be a species that is best dealt with by accepting its resilience, and only taking action in the most required or extreme cases where the most harm is occurring.

Table 2. Management methods and evaluations for  Water Hyacinth

Management Method Direct Costs Benefits Drawbacks Efficacy
No Action N/A N/A Continued spread and nuisance.
Herbicides & Chemicals $ Targeted eradication. Contamination, and reduced water and soil quality. +
Manual Removal $ Safest route. Confirmed removal of species. Not effective. Species will regrow too quickly, or return. +
Machine Removal $$$ Quick and efficient. Environmental damage, costly, ineffective. +/-
Alternative Species $$ Natural and effective control of species. Unintended consequences, i.e. damage to other species or ecosystems. ++/–

Historical Profile of Water Lettuce, (Pistia stratiotes)

Historically, water lettuce has become widely distributed throughout the world due to its wide range of use as an ancient medicine, and as such, it is believed that it had been brought along with migrating human populations as they moved from one region of the world to another (Sculthorpe, 1971). Being a plant that reproduces vigorously in tropical and sub-tropical climates, it quickly spread and established large colonies once introduced to areas where it could easily sustain itself. Likely originating from Africa and South America, the water lettuce soon began to establish itself in Central Asia, South East Asia, most Oceanian Countries, southern Europe and finally in Central America along with parts of North America (Langeland, 1998) (EddMaps, 2017). This is largely due to the increase in commercial shipping, as it is hypothesised that cargo ships had the potential to carry water lettuce seeds in their ballasts (OFAH/OMNR, 2012), resulting in the wide dispersion of this aquatic plant species. Eventually, people began to use this plant decoratively in theirs garden gardens, aquariums and ponds, further exacerbating the spread of this plant beyond the sub-tropical range that it had previously occupied.


Currently, the presence of P. stratoites is recorded in the northeastern region of the United States and in southern Ontario. This eventual migration northward has been recorded in “ponds connected to the Rideau Canal near Ottawa, and in the Welland Canal in the Niagara Region, Lake St. Clair and its tributaries, Bronte Creek in Oakville, and beaches east of Toronto” (OFAH/OMNR, 2012). In addition, its current distribution is also partially due to warming temperatures, and milder winters.

Since the P. stratiotes is not listed on the Invasive Species Act as a regulated or restricted plant, it is common for aquarium and pond stores to sell them. In fact, according to a study conducted near Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, 20% of aquarium and pet stores carried P. stratiotes (Rixon et al, 2005). This contributes greatly to its current spread, as owners of ponds and aquariums may improperly dispose of the plants, which may end up in the Great Lakes or their watersheds. Listed as having an extensive invasion history, according to the Great Lakes Aquatic Nonindigenous Species Information System (GLANIS) water lettuce has a “moderate probability of establishment if introduced to the Great Lakes” (Baker, 2015).

Ecological Connections

As it is known that water lettuce forms dense mats within water ways, it has strong potential to clog them, making recreational activities such as swimming fishing and boating difficult. In areas where water lettuce have formed these large mats, it also blocks out sunlight and in turn, reduces the amount of dissolved oxygen within the water. This makes it very difficult for other aquatic species to survive, especially since this plant is known to consume high quantities of nutrients from the water that it floats on. Not only do these large colonies make habitat less suitable for organisms which occupy the aquatic landscape, but they also block access to water for terrestrial animals (Baker, 2015). To add to this, P. stratiotes colonies can reduce water temperatures, reduce pH, and reduce oxygen mixing with surface wind. As a result, due to these limiting factors, P. stratiotes has the ability to kill native plants, fish and other wildlife in the area that it occupies (Attionu, 1976).

Critical Assessment of Management Options

There are several management strategies already put in place for dealing with non-native water lettuce in ecosystems around the world. Such strategies include the physical removal of the plants from their environment, utilizing other organisms who feed on this plant in order to eradicate it, chemically managing the species population through the use herbicides and cultivating the invasive species for commercial use. The success of these methods are all dependent on the particular location of the habitat, and other limiting factors such as accessibility and sensibility of the ecosystem. Figure 3 demonstrates a condensed version of the benefits and drawback of each strategy. The following is a descriptive list of the possible management strategies:

Chemical Control

The use of herbicide is certainly an effective way to eradicate floating plant matter, although since we are dealing with an aquatic ecosystem, the targeted species may not be the only one affected. Common herbicides such as Glyphosate and Diquat can cause massive weed die-off where the subsequent decomposition may end up removing much of the dissolved oxygen from the water (Baker, 2015).

Biological Control

There has been research conducted to determine if biological controls such as specialist herbivores, meaning organisms who require specific habitat requirement, can be used to eradicate or at least lessen population numbers of P. stratiotes. Species such as the water lettuce moth and the water lettuce weevil feet uniquely on this one plant, and have been used to control this plant in areas where it was not native (Cilliers, 1991). Within 12-18 months the South American water lettuce weevil was able to eradicate at least 40% of the water lettuce in Australia, where it was introduced (Harley et al., 1990). The issue with this approach is that introducing foreign species to a new environment has potentially disastrous consequences. It is very difficult to predict how a non-native species will interact with a new environment. This may not be the best approach for controlling water lettuce in southern Ontario.

Physical Control

To put it simply, this involves the physical removal of the floating plant from the ecosystem. This can be dealt with on a smaller scale by using a small boat, a rake and a bucket to collect the plants, or on a larger scale, through the use of mechanical harvesters. This generally makes for an effective management strategy, as it is a relatively non-invasive procedure concerning the health of the ecosystem. A concern with this method is that since removal boats will be passing through water lettuce patches, there is a risk that these vessels may serve as vector for seeds to “hitchhike” on, thus spreading to other locations.

The following video is a demonstration of how easy it is to conduct physical removals of water lettuce and water hyacinth in London, Ontario, at the Westminster pond. The Upper Thames River Conservation Authority monitors local water bodies for invasive species and

Physical Control with an Economical approach

If these plants can be harvested effectively, its nutritional and medicinal benefits could be put towards good use. Water lettuce contain high concentrations of protein, carbohydrates and fiber and is known to have anti-fungal and anti-microbial properties.  If there is no interest in the food or natural medicine market, they can be used to feed livestock as the plant is known to be fed to pigs. There has also been research into the use of this plant as bio-fuel in areas where water lettuce has overwhelmed certain river systems (Mishima et al. 2008).

Table 3. Management methods and evaluations for  Water Lettuce

Management Method Direct Costs Benefits Drawbacks Efficacy
No Action N/A N/A Continued spread and nuisance.  —
Chemical Control $$ Efficient eradication of species. Contamination, and reduced water and soil quality. May be costly if there is a need for remediation. +/–
Biological Control $ Efficient eradication of species at a low cost Unpredictability of the newly introduced species +/–
Physical Control $$$ Quick, efficient and effective. May spread the species to other locations. Costly. +/-
Physical Control with an Economic Approach $$ Quick, efficient and effective. Economic gain from species removal May spread the species to other locations. ++/-


Management Plan

This management plan provides detailed information regarding the most effective management option that involves the least risk to the environment and the general population. Based on the benefits outweighing the costs, it is determined that the physical removal of the plant is the most effective option for control, as long as a small, but closed, market can be built around the removal of the water lettuce. In this case, a closed market is a market in which profit is solely made for the progress of the management strategy.  This approach is the most viable method, since as much of the removed water lettuce can be sold as feed for livestock like cows and pigs, or even be used as a biofuel (Mishima, 2008) additive. Money generated from the sales of this plant can be used as a way to provide more funding towards management resources such as labour and equipment. This system does not create an increasing demand for the product, and would therefore does not necessarily create another market for the plant. If the plant was sold for potential medicinal properties after it’s harvested from targeted sites, there could possibility be an increase in demand for the product and would therefore contribute to the spread of water lettuce in southern Ontario. Previously, in Ontario (Azan, 2015) and in the southern United States (Langand, 1998), the physical approach has been implemented and seems to be the main tactic used my organization in North America.

In addition o this approach, the issue must also be addressed from a different angle. Not only does water lettuce need to be removed from bodies of water in southern Ontario, but the driving factor for its introduction to water ways must be diminished. Seeing that water lettuce is most commonly introduced to the natural environment via decorative ponds or aquariums, a public education plan must be set in place in order to engage communities in the prevention of its propagation and to encourage pond and aquarium business’ to stop selling water lettuce. Programs such as volunteer based river clean-up or invasive species bio-blitzes could be organized in partnership with organizations such as the OFAH of Ducks Unlimited. To add to these programs, pubic education nights and conferences can be hosted, along with efforts to build public pressure upon local governments to take action against the newly emerging invasive species. Strong social media can also reach many targeted interest groups across a broad platform.

Legal Factors

There are no laws conflicting with the physical removal of the invasive species, as it does not negatively impact the quality of the water that the invasive species resides in. Though in order to put more pressure on local and provincial governments to take action, the Clean Water Act (S.O. 2006, Chapter22) can be used as a stepping-stone towards involving communities in the management project. This act requires communities to monitor existing and possible threats to waterways, and to implement necessary actions to diminish the threat. It allows for public participation on all levels, in order for everyone to get the opportunity to play a role in the planning process of any mitigation or prevention plan against the invasion of water lettuce for example. Finally, and most importantly, the Clean Water Act of Ontario requires that all plans and projects must be “based on sound science” (Clean Water Act, 2006). In turn, the Provincial government of Ontario will have more reason to add water lettuce to the Invasive Species Act’s list of invasive species.

Potential Challenges and Solutions

Even if this management project may seem simple and small in scale compared to other efforts focusing on more prominent invasive species, such as giant hogweed and asian carp, this plan still faces many challenges. Most importantly, the issue of funding poses as the largest hurdle in this project. Without any form of income or outside support, no action can be taken against the spread of water lettuce in the waterways of southern Ontario. Secondly, industry that supplies water lettuce is to root cause of its current spread throughout natural water bodies in our region. Actions must be put in place in order to limit the sale of, or at least discourage these industries from selling water lettuce. Finally, in order to highlight the importance of the current issue facing water lettuce in southern Ontario, public knowledge and education programs must be put in place. This will prove to be one of the most important factors that will allow us to reduce the dispersal of the invasive aquatic plant. The following graph highlights the issues, their challenges and the potential solutions that are suggested in order to effectively coordinate a management strategy against the spread of water lettuce.

Table 3. Funding, public awareness of the issue and the water lettuce industry are the most prominent issues facing the management of water lettuce in Ontario.

Issues Challenges Solutions
Funding The challenge is finding the funding to pay for labour, equipment and other necessary resources required for managing the invasive species. -Selling collected water lettuce as biofuel or even as live stock feed.

-Running volunteer and community based programs in order to deal with the issue in a cost effective manner.

-Gain support from local government, in order to receive funding.

-Apply for grants.

The Water Lettuce Industry The decorative pond and aquarium industry is largely the reason whywater lettuce has spread so much in southern Ontario. The sale of this plant is not under any form of control. -Educate the general public about the issue.

– Social pressure from communities for stores to halt the sale of water lettuce may be effective on the small scale.

-Lobbying to add the plant on the Prohibited List of the Invasive Species Act would have the largest impact.

Lack of Public Knowledge Reaching out to a broad range of individuals may prove difficult. Engaging communities may be even more difficult to accomplish -Hold conferences

-Organize shoreline clean-ups and bioblitzes

-Develop a strong media presence.

-Develop partnerships with organizations such as Ducks unlimited or OFAH.




The physical removal of water lettuce paired with the establishment of a public education program is the ideal method for addressing the spread of water lettuce. This multi-faceted approach tackles the current issues that water ways in Southern Ontario face in regards to water lettuce, and also addresses the main source of the spread of the plant. Since this plan involves sound scientific research, community involvement and sound ecological practices, this management plan will ideally be successful upon its undertaking.



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English Ivy (Hedera helix), Lily of the Valley (Convallaria majalis), Goutweed (Aegopodium podagraria) and Periwinkle (Vinca minor)-Historical Profile

By: Christopher Aultman, Dylan Henry, Charlotte Leivo


The following paragraphs will go into detail about the early records, uses and likely reason that contributed to the popularity and naturalization of the following groundcover species: English Ivy (Hedera helix), Lily of the Valley (Convallaria majalis), Goutweed (Aegopodium podagraria) and Periwinkle (Vinca minor).

English Ivy, Hedera helix, has been widely used by early Europeans as an insulator on stone buildings throughout the year (Sternberg, Viles, Cathersides, & Edwards, 2010). This may have had a large impact on English Ivy being imported to North America, with early records placing the plant in Virginia by 1762 (Wells & Brown 2000). The plant later became widely used for aesthetic purposes instead of as an insulator with the change of heating systems and house design (Sternberg, Viles, Cathersides, & Edwards 2010). The horticulture industry utilized the appeal of this plant to sell and distribute the ivy across North America, with the American Ivy Society widely promoting it currently (Waggy, 2010). Despite the horticulture industry’s success with selling English Ivy, it is having a profoundly negative impact on the natural ecosystem. The ivy was used for erosion control in the 1900’s which may have contributed to the plant’s establishment in many areas across United States. Birds also contribute to the dispersal of the seeds (Waggy, 2010). These factors have likely contributed to the plant negatively impacting the forestry industry by disrupting the growth patterns of the forest, which indirectly impacts the local distribution of the animal species (Waggy, 2010).

Lily of the Valley, Convallaria majalis, has been widely depicted in ancient lore with associations to the Virgin Mary being called Our Lady’s Tears and the virgin goddess of Ostara in Germany when they were pagans. (World of flowering plants, 2014) The plant was further used in a wine concoction to treat various ailments leading to the liquid being known as “Golden Water”. (Haas, N.D) These deeply rooted legends and uses in the culture of early Europeans may have lead to the plant being widely cultivated in North America. The American Gardening book indicates that Lily of the Valley was exclusively imported from Germany in the 1800’s. (Bailey, 1894) As time progress the plant was recommended to be planted for numerous hardy conditions where no other exotic plants would survive. (Bailey, 1894) This plant then escaped cultivation, becoming naturalized in native ecosystem and having the same effect on the landscape as the other groundcovers.

Goutweed, Aegopodium podagraria, was brought over by colonial settlers to America with early records placing it in North America since the 1850’s. (Waggy, 2010) Historically, goutweed was used for food and for its medicinal properties in treating gout, in many European countries, this was likely the reason behind bring the plant to North America. (Waggy, 2010) Goutweed is now being grown as an ornamental groundcover because of its rapid growth rate and hardiness in many environments. Nurseries throughout North America have widely promoted the plant for this use. (Waggy, 2010) As people became more irritated with the plant outcompeting the other plants in the garden people have disposed of the plant in various forests to be rid of the plant. (Waggy, 2010) This is now creating problems for the overall health of ecosystems and is getting the attention of the forestry industry and other natural groups.

Like goutweed, periwinkle was likely brought over initially for its edibility by early European settlers. Early records indicate that periwinkle has been in Virginia since 1771(Wells & Brown, 2000)  but may have been in North America earlier than this. The range of periwinkle is due to the horticulture industry, in the American Gardening book periwinkle was recommended on numerous accounts to be used for erosion control along the riparian zone (Bailey, 1894). This could have impacted the naturalization of the plant in native ecosystems in North America. As time progressed the plant was widely distributed and sold in many greenhouses and nurseries in North America for its gorgeous blue flowers and tolerance for shade (Stone, 2009). It is likely that periwinkle escaped cultivation from homes that bordered forested ecosystems (Darcy & Burkart, 2002), bringing rise to problems in the environment.

Ecological Connections:

The reproductive strategies deployed by the following groundcovers; Goutweed, Lily of the Valley, English Ivy, and Periwinkle have contributed to the successful establishment of the natural environment. Once in an ecosystem the rapid expansion by vegetative growth allowed the groundcovers to quickly form dense mats on the forest floor. This resulted in outcompeting native plant species and restricting available sunlight  that killed germinating native flora, including tree species (Waggy, 2010. Stone, 2009. Darcy & Burkart, 2002). The ability of English Ivy to grow vertically on trees and the use of adventitious roots allows it to create what is known as “Ivy deserts” in a forest as it affects all strata of a forest (Waggy, 2010). The rhizomes of goutweed and lily of the valley allow them to grow in numerous soil and shade conditions. Where then creep inward to areas that their seeds cannot properly germinate. The strong fragrances of these two groundcovers have been known to attract numerous pollinators to their flowers (Waggy, 2010. Ohara, Araki, Yamada, Kawano, 2006).

Other factors that possibly lead to these plants becoming established in an Ecosystem would be disturbed ecosystems. These ecosystems could have become disturbed by different factors. Overabundance of deer within an ecosystem results in the deer over browsing the native flora, which would lead to an open space where these invasive plant species can enter the area (Rawinski, 2008). Once these plants establish they quickly grow out of control unopposed because the deer do not favour these exotic plants. Other factors could be recent fires that disrupted the ecosystem or improper human management of the forest stands.

The negative impacts that the groundcovers have on a forest has recently started to raise concerns with environmental-related organizations and naturalist alike as they are decreasing the biodiversity in these forest ecosystems. As the formation of dense mats on the forest floor are affecting the forest’s ability to replenish varying levels in the canopy layer, weakening the overall health of the forest (Waggy, 2010). The biggest concerns for this comes from Periwinkle and English Ivy based on studies that confirmed they had an incredibly negative effect on the germination and growth of seedlings (Waggy, 2010. Darcy and Burkart, 2002). The high fragrance of goutweed and lily of the valley has gotten naturalists concerned about the pollinator to native plant species interaction, which may lower the seed reproduction of wanted native plant species (Waggy, 2010. Ohara, Araki, Yamada, & Kawano, 2006). Periwinkle, English Ivy and Goutweed have been known to negatively impact riparian zones and floodplains as they widely establish themselves in these areas or were once used as erosion control in these locations (Waggy, 2010). Furthermore, as native plants species begin to disappear in regions native fauna will begin to decrease in areas where these ground covers are taking over the forests.

Critical Assessment of Current Management Strategies:

Introduced invasive plants threaten ecosystems due to their excessive growth and have both ecological and economic impacts. Invasive species threaten native wildlife and ecosystems and are causing ecological havoc in many of our most sensitive habitats, pushing many of our native plants and animals to the brink of extinction (Padullés & Vila & Barriocanal, 2015). Each method option is described in the next paragraphs.


The best way to ultimately control these groundcover species is prevention. This can be achieved by maintaining a healthy ecosystem where these plants cannot establish themselves in. Other methods of preventing these species from invading these natural spaces is to educate the public on ways to ensure the plant cannot spread into these ecosystems. Like not planting these plants on areas that border the ecosystem where they could spread vegetatively or creating deep barriers that the roots would not be able to grow past.However, if the plants have already established themselves in these regions there are the following methods of control: Do nothing, Biological Control, Chemical Control, Mechanical or Physical Control. The following paragraphs will go into detail for the effectiveness of each control for English Ivy, Goutweed, Lily of the Valley, and Periwinkle.

Do Nothing:

Doing nothing is always an approach that can be taken to address this issue. Many people have voiced their opinion on the severity of invasive species establishing themselves in an environment or if it’s just natural and these species are just becoming integrated in the environment. This suggests that if a long enough time passes these plant species will be adopted into the diet of native fauna as some evidence of White-tailed Deer and Volcano Rabbit browsing on Periwinkle (Stone, 2009) is already coming to light. English Ivy is another plant species that has been documented to be incorporated in White-tailed Deer diets (Waggy, 2010). Currently there is no known species that native species that consume lily of the valley or goutweed but it has been noted that many pollinator species are widely attracted to these species and aid in the pollination. However, if these plants are left alone to grow out of control it would completely disrupt many ecological functions in an environment as they spread quickly by rhizomes and will out-compete all layers of a forest by restricting light to tree seedlings or ground flora (Stone, 2003. Waggy, 2010). Several studies focusing on the effects of leaving certain study plots unchecked in Michigan, Illinois, Oregon, Sweden, Czech Republic and the Netherlands indicate that the plant populations exponentially in the environment if unopposed. Resulting in potential losses in the Forestry Industry as wood production in these areas begin to decline without the growth of new trees. Other similar industries that benefit from resources coming from these forest ecosystems may also be negatively impacted.

Biological Control:

Biological control is another control method that proves to be effective in multiple studies that took place in Europe and United States for Goutweed, English Ivy and Periwinkle. One common biological control method for these species are the use of livestock; cattle, goats and sheep to limit or eliminate these species from an environment. In Oregon, a study was performed to look at the effects of goat browsing on English Ivy in managed plots in a forest ecosystem. The study showed that high intensity, short duration browsing of the juvenile stages of English Ivy resulted in the decrease of plant cover to 23% in the 1st year of browsing, and to 4% plant cover in the following year (Ingham & Borman, 2010). A similar study has been performed in New Zealand but substituted with sheep instead of the goat that yielded similar results. Another study done in the Netherlands showed the effects of large cattle browsing in forest ecosystems of bramble and groundcovers. This study showed that the effects of cattle browse and trampling effects on the ecosystem resulted in English Ivy and Periwinkle to disappear in the plot by 2004 despite there being no significant difference in frequency between the ungrazed and grazed plot in 2002 (Van Uytvanck & Hoffman, 2009). A study that was conducted in the Czech Republic, examined the effects of cattle grazing on forb species at a grassland site, the site contained varying intensities of Goutweed. This study revealed that varying intensities of cattle grazing resulted in the vast decrease or disappearance of Goutweed present at the pasture plots (Pavlů, Hejcman, Pavlů, Gaisler, & Nežerková, 2006). Therefore indicating that livestock browsing of all three species can be executed in a forest ecosystem and be effective in managing these invasive groundcovers species, the exception being Lily of the Valley. The study based out of Oregon further indicated that goats could be used within urban parks. (Ingham & Borman, 2010) The management strategy utilizes the agricultural industry to control invasive species in an ecosystem indicating the combined benefits of providing food for livestock that may be used for producing dairy, food, and/or textile products. Making this method cost effective as there is a source of income coming in from the used animal species but could cause other problems as the may consume wanted native flora and could compact the soils depending on the animals used.

Chemical Control:

Chemical control methods may be one of the most commonly used management strategies for large populations of invasive plant species throughout Canada and the United States of America. A study was done in Oregon that indicated performing chemical control on English Ivy in the winter proved to be effective (Waggy, 2010). Further studies completed in New Zealand indicated that basal application after the mature plant was cut proved effective for a short duration (Griffiths, 2010). It has been noted that Goutweed and Periwinkle persist after the use of Glyphosates because of the vegetative growth response following the procedures and the deep rhizomes that likely were not affected by the spraying (Waggy, 2010. Stone, 2009). The same is true for Lily of the Valley because it contains deeply rooted rhizomes that escapes the chemicals (Kosinski, 2003). Therefore proving that the application of herbicides is only a short-term solution to a long-term problem.

physical and mechanical control:

The most common way that many conservation areas remove invasive ground cover like periwinkle and goutweed is by implementing physical and mechanical control methods to remove the plant body and roots (CVC, 2017). This method of removal is only effective if the entire root mass is removed due to rhizomes being able to rapidly recolonize in the soil. If the entire plant is not removed the plant will continues to grow new shoots (CVC, 2017). Excavation can be very affordable if completed  with volunteers and hand tools. However heavy machinery can be used which will increase cost but reduce the duration of the project. In some cases these methods are the only available control methods for invasive plant species that do not utilize chemicals, Lily of the Valley is one of these species. A study done in Poland, simulated the effects an animal would have if they were to consume Lily of the Valley on a yearly basis by continually mowing populations of the plant (Kosinski, 2003). This study was successful in showing that if Lily of the Valley was intensively mowed back and trampled upon, the plant will decrease in vegetative cover (Kosinski, 2003). However, some of these methods may not be effective in a forest ecosystem as it will provide an entry point for new invasive species or will make it so new species cannot regrow in the area this is dependant on the material used to smother the plant. Therefore, indicating that these methods are best used in conjunction of previously mention methods to effectively remove the species or strategies of replanting native plant species in the area immediately following these methods. This method is incredibly physically demanding and involves a lot of labour if done on a larger scale, thus being an ineffective of management due to the high resource need.

Table 1: Illustrates a comparison of doing nothing,biological control, fire management, physical and mechanical control, herbicides and prevention as a method to resolve the invasion of Vinca minor L., Convallaria majalis, Aegopodium podagraria & Hedera helix in North America.

Strategy Cost Benefits Factors Effectiveness
Do Nothing $ Cost Effective Would cost more to maintain landscape with the outspread of targeted species expanding.  Species would continue to thrive and choke out native plants.
Biological Control $$ Effective in natural removal and fertilizing of area. Consumes wanted native plant species. +
Physical and Mechanical Control $$-$$$$ Only targeted species are removed from the area. Can be cheap. Labour intensive. Soil compaction. Disturbed soils could provide suitable germination for other invasives +
Herbicides $$$ Effective initial short-term treatment Plants that are not targeted may also be affected by spray methods
Prevention $ Natural ecosystem restored. Effective in preventing plants initially but does not work if the invasive plants are already present. ++


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White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus) -Historical Profile

Written by: Sean Bryan, Jessie Harris, Narmeen Nweisser, Frank Zacharias.

Historical Profile
The white-tailed deer has been recorded to have originated near regions north of central Mexico (Morales, 2016) and has since made its way both south to northern parts of South America and into Canada and fading in population size as they reach the boreal zones of Canada. Ontario has not always been a suitable habitat due to glaciers covering the landscape leaving behind landforms such as moraines and eskers (Dawe, 2014)

The St Lawrence lowlands within Ontario and nearby Provinces is composed of rich ecosystems that are suitable for the survivorship of the white-tailed deer. This same area became home to Indigenous clans which historically may have followed the deer and other game animal’s north from parts of America or pushed there such as the Anishinabek (Warrick, 2012) who were designated land along the Grand River watershed in treaty agreements.  The Native Americans would make sure that almost nothing of the deer was wasted within the community. They would eat the meat and use bone marrow to make up a large part of their diet, but they would also use the hides for things like rugs, clothes, fishnets, and blankets. The antlers and bones would be crafted into arrowheads, clubs, fishhooks, and tools for the Indigenous people to use. This made the white-tailed deer sought after for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples and also has become a trophy species, the trophy being the antlers on a male deer.

However with the settlement of farmers in North America it caused the deer populations to decline with the removal of cover for crops and unregulated shooting. As logging was happening for more land to be used for crops, more and more of the opposite effects on the deer populations occurred. Logging caused more openings, made more brush, and younger forests to establish making it the perfect condition for deer. This caused an estimate climb in the population of about a million deer. As railroads were introduced it made it easier to access the wilderness. With the population of deer rising and access to more wilderness, the amount of hunting that was done increased again. In 1895 Michigan began making progress on deer management in the state with making a deer hunting season and a limit amount that could be harvested. For decades after the laws were made there was a constant up and down in the populations due to the seasons for hunting to change new regulations and available habitat. In 1986 only Colorado, Massachusetts, New York, Oklahoma, and Texas reported over-populated deer ranges. In contrast, in 2013, 18 of 47 states surveyed reported issues with overpopulated deer herds in urban areas.In many states the deer population is at or below biological carrying capacity (K) but exceeds social carrying capacity. Many current issues with White-tailed deer are related to an increasingly urban human population that is less tolerant of deer, and not necessarily with increases in deer populations.” (Krausman,Christensen,Mcdonald, & Leopold, 2014). Today, the white-tailed deer is the most widespread deer in the world, making it the most popular game in the United States chased by about 11 million hunters. There is now problems that arise due to the adaptability of the deer. Since the deer are very adaptable it makes it easy for them to become a problem within an urban city. Deer sterilization is one way of controlling deer populations within a city.


Ecological Connections:

Eradicating of the white-tailed deer can be done but would take a long time too. This is because the white-tailed deer population is high. The deer is a “K” strategy species like described above, they have a long life span but take a lot of care to get to an older age, which makes them a slow growth population (Fulbright, 2013). This makes for easy eradication because you can wipe out a population quickly by hunting the deer and putting them under stress. In Ontario for example, deer populations in the city of London have been a concern for the last decade, especially the habitats associated with the Sifton Bog. Concerns include the natural areas within the city of London and how they are impacted by deer. (Stephenson,2011)

Deer are herbivores that graze on long grasses in the summer time. While deer are in the long grass they can have a Deer Tick attach to them (Safer, 2017). By having the deer in the city they may bring in the ticks that they could have gotten in the long grass into the city. This is a problem because these ticks can be transmitted to your dogs and causing death, but also humans as well through Lyme disease. The challenges cities have been facing is trying to find the balance of the number of deer to the homeowners and their properties (Safer, 2017). Okay but you should be mentioning that Lyme Disease is the cause of issues which is transmitted by the ticks.

In Manitoba there is currently over 6,000 deer-vehicle collisions every year, making it a problem to humans (n.a., 2010). The deer’s habitat is along forest edges and if you put a road through a forest there is a good possibility that they will need to cross the road is high. Deer are also obligate migrators, meaning they must travel to find food. This can relate to deer collisions because if they need to cross a road to get to another source of food that increase the chances of collisions on the roads. Vehicle damage can also be costly to the car owners. There is also a problem with deer eating farmers crops and damaging resident’s landscape of their yard. (n.a.,2010). For these reasons the deer population needs to decrease around urban cities without causing a lot of damage to the ecosystem.  Another factor is the overgrazing of forests and fields near or in urban areas.  The lack of space and over abundance of white-tailed deer lead them to over graze causing a negative effect on ecosystems.


Critical Assessment of Management Options

For the population of white-tailed deer to be controlled around an urban city there are various methods of control without damaging the ecosystem and the species. Sterilization of the doe’s is an effective way to control urban deer populations. Opening the hunting season for a wider range throughout the year can help control populations. Using fence to keep the deer away from roads and urban places is also another option for controlling the deer.  Relocation of white-tailed deer is also an option but is rarely feasible because lots of variables fall into place, such as high costs, lack of habitat to relocate to, high stress on the individual deer and high mortality rate.  (Boulanger, 2012). The option to do nothing is always something ecologists need to keep in mind and always looking at the history to make sure they weigh out all options before making one.

A method that is used by some cities is to sterilize the female deer (doe). Sterilization is an effective method to help reduce deer populations around urban settings. Sterilizing the females will reduce the amount that a deer can reproduce causing a decline in cities. This method however is very labour intensive making it one of the most expensive ways of dealing with the problem. It takes many hours to set up traps for the deer as well as doing the surgery on the deer. The multiple people that would be working on this project would need to have a high level of training/expertise, making them a high paid employee. Doing the surgeries on the deer it will also cost a lot in tools transportation and traps (Schwantje, 2015). Surgical sterilization is the most dependable means to permanently sterilize female deer. Sterilization of a bigger population of female deer has the advantage of lessening deer numbers more quickly and producing fawns overall. (Grovenburg,2009). Although this method of controlling the population will work it is very costly. (Cornell)

Another way to reduce the population of deer around an urban area is to open the hunting season for a longer duration. Having the hunting season expanded can be a very effective way to reduce numbers. Hunting can also have a positive impact on the community by having a cultural practice and being able to do so for a longer period of time in the year. By hunting, the hunters get to use the meat for consumption for themselves, family and friends. These two factors can help a community greatly. This method has very minimal cost to the government for the decrease in the population because they do not need to hire employees to do the work (Schwantje, 2015). Customary strategies for overseeing overabundant white-tailed deer concentrate on lethal removal, for example, hunting or sharp shooting. Although it has been proposed that culling may be the most practical alternative. Lethal control might be unreasonable in a few communities because of legal, well-being or moral concerns. (Grovenburg, 2009). Also the hunting would be happening outside of the urban areas which may actually make the deer come to the city for more cover where they cannot be killed.

Table 1. Illustrates a comparison of the management methods to determine what method to use for the management of the white-tailed deer.

Management Method Costs Benefits Factors Efficacy
Hunting/Sharpshooting Make money on tags Reducing/maintaining populations in large areas Safety concern
Most effective currently
Deer Contraception/Sterilization Expensive Maintaining populations  Labour intensive  –
Do Nothing Nothing Wouldn’t be harmed from human, just predators, accident collisions Not managing pop. will make healthy forest unsustainable  –
Rehabilitation Expensive

Ambriz-Morales, P., De La Rosa-Reyna, X. F., Sifuentes-Rincon, A. M., Parra-Bracamonte, G.M., Villa-Melchor, A., Chassin-Noria, O., & Arellano-Vera, W. (2016). The complete mitochondrial genomes of nine white-tailed deer subspecies and their genomic differences. Journal Of Mammalogy, 97(1), 234-245. doi:10.1093/jmammal/gyv172

Dawe, K., Bayne, E., & Boutin, S. (2014). Influence of climate and human land use on the distribution of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) in the western boreal forest. Canadian Journal Of Zoology, 92(4), 353-363.

Donovan, J. (June 4, 2013). Science News. White-tailed deer and the science of yellow snow.

Entomological Society of America. (2014, July 1). Reducing deer populations may reduce risk of Lyme disease. ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 3, 2017 from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140701111549.htm

Feltham, J. V. (2017, January 20). Jfeltham_ecological_profile. Lecture presented at Species Management in Fleming Campus, Lindsay.

Fieberg, J., Kuehn, D. W., & Delgiudice, G. D. (2008). Understanding Variation In Autumn Migration Of Northern White-Tailed Deer By Long-Term Study. Journal Of Mammalogy, 89(6), 1529-1539.

Georgia, U. o. (September 28, 2015). Be on the lookout this fall: Deer-vehicle collisions increase during breeding season. Science News.

Grovenburg, T. W., Jenks, J. A., Klaver, R. W., Swanson, C. C., Jacques, C. N., & Todey, D.(2009). Seasonal movement and home ranges of white-tailed deer in north-central South Dakota. Canadian Journal Of Zoology, 87(10), 876-885.

Hewitt, David G. (2011). Biology & Management of White-tailed Deer. Taylor & Francis.

Hummel, S. ‘., Campa, H. I., Locher, A., & Winterstein, S. R. (2016). Spatial quantification of white-tailed deer habitat of a wetland-dominated landscape in Central Lower Michigan. Michigan Academician, (3), 393.

Klaver, R. W., Jenks, J. A., Deperno, C. S., & Griffin, S. L. (2008). Associating Seasonal Range Characteristics With Survival of Female White-Tailed Deer. Journal Of Wildlife Management, 72(2), 343-353. doi:10.2192/2005-581

Krausman, P. R., Christensen, S. A., McDonald, J. E., & Leupold, B. D. (2014). Dynamics and social issues of overpopulated deer ranges in the United States: a long term assessment. California Fish & Game, 100(3), 436-450. Retrieved from                                                               http://www.bcqwc.org/uploads/5/0/9/9/50992449/krausman_et_al_2014.pdf

Stephenson, D., Dance, K., Anderson, P., Brenton, T., Murphy, S., Smith, D., Boles, R.,Keable, L. (2011) Sifton Bog White-Tailed Deer Management Study City of  London.[PDF file] Retrieved from http://thamesriver.on.ca/wp-content/uploads/WestminsterPonds/Report-DRAFT-Sifton-DeerManagement-January11.pdf

Warrick, G. (2012). Buried Stories: Archaeology and Aboriginal Peoples of the Grand River, Ontario. Journal Of Canadian Studies, 46(2), 153-177.








Sandhill Crane (Antigone canadensis) – Historical Profile

By Sara Kuruvilla, Jennifer Del Tin, Mary-Elizabeth Pennington & Teslyn Heron

Historical Profile

There are 6 subspecies of Sandhill Cranes including greater, lesser, Cuban, Mississippi, and Canadian (Gerber & Kendall, 2016). The Cuban subspecies does not migrate and is currently considered federally endangered, along with the Mississippi Sandhill Cranes and Florida cranes (United States Fish and Wildlife Service, n.d.).

Based on early historical reports, the first account of Sandhill Cranes was in the 1800s by John Hunter, a Plains explorer in North America, who reported sight of the Sandhills on the Central Platte (modern day Nebraska, USA). Although this area was prior frequented by thousands of colonizers moving westward along the Oregon and Mormon Trails, the timing of their journey fell during late spring when the river was safer to cross over. As the Sandhills would have already departed before this time, it is of no surprise that there was no mention of the birds in journals of the early colonizers (Johnsgard, 2002). Within the same century, the population of Sandhills started to decline due to unregulated hunting and habitat loss. Fortunately, their numbers later increased significantly after the signing of the Migratory Bird Act in 1918 (U.S. Fish & Wildlife Services, 1984); thereby removing the migratory species of Sandhill Cranes from the endangered species list (Government of Canada, 2015).

Special Historical Fact: According to the International Crane Foundation, the Sandhill Crane may possibly be one of the oldest surviving bird species. This assumption is based on the discovery of a crane fossil (originating from the Pliocene period) found in Nebraska, that was found to have the same skeletal structure as the modern Sandhill Crane.

Ecological Connections

The Sandhill Crane is considered a ‘K’ strategist because they live long lives, have few offspring each year, and extended parental care for their young. ‘K’ strategists can be wiped out easier than ‘R’ strategists, and they take longer to recover. This is why after the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1916 was introduced, their population grew slowly until they were no longer considered to be a species at risk.

Historically, Sandhill Cranes prefer open wetland habitats when they are breeding, while non-breeding cranes prefer open prairie habitats (The Cornell Lab of Ornithology, 2016). Agricultural lands (such as the corn fields) that Sandhill Cranes are often found foraging in, simulate these open types of habitats. They prefer digging in the ground for their food and the waste corn that they thrive on in agricultural fields is accessed in this way (Harner, Wright, & Geluso, 2015).

Although restoration efforts have increased Sandhill Crane numbers, with the growing human population and therefore a higher agricultural demand, wetlands are still decreasing and are becoming more absent from areas that serve as habitats for the cranes (Lacy, Barzen, Moore, & Norris, 2015). This in turn, causes Sandhill Cranes to turn to agricultural lands as a staple habitat as well as food source. Along with this issue, according to Matt Seabrook- a grain farmer from Ontario, Canada- the presence of the Sandhills in agricultural fields pose an additional threat. Due to their large stature, they tend to flatten standing crops with their large feet, therefore providing migratory Geese with landing access to the fields and hence causing further destruction to the crops (Kerr, 2016).

Critical Assessment of Management Options

To establish a more positive relationship between the Sandhill cranes and the farmers who provide the needed habitat, several management options are being explored:

  1. Repellents: The International Crane Foundation is helping to develop a new technique to treat corn seeds with a deterrent before the seeds are planted. In response, foraging Sandhills avoid treated seed but remain in the field to feed non-destructively on other foods. The new repellent known as Avipel, is commercially sold by its manufacturer Arkion Life Sciences (International Crane Foundation, n.d; Lovell, 2012).
  2. Exclusion:  This involves the installation of barriers such as fencing and overhead grids, to prevent the Sandhills from entering an area. This technique may be effective to prevent property damage in smaller areas such as family gardens and windows (Sandhills attack their own reflection thinking it is a competitor). Unfortunately, for larger areas such as airports and farms, barriers would be ineffective and the costs would be too high (Lovell, 2012).
  3. Harassment: This method may be the most effective in deterring the Sandhills, but care must be taken to use a variety of devices (pyrotechnics, Airdancers, air horns, drones) and not follow a set schedule, lest the birds become accustomed to the disturbance. The keys to a successful harassment operation are timing, persistence, randomness and diversity (Lovell, 2012).
  4. Hunting: Although hunting may be the most useful form of management- apart from the owner requiring a valid gun license- a federal permit with state authorization would be required in order to hunt the birds for the purpose of protecting property. Along with this, hunting may be useful in removing an individual Sandhill, but crop damage over large areas is generally carried out by large flocks of Sandhills Cranes (Lovell, 2012).
  5. New Hunting Regulations: In order to implement more effective and sustainable hunting regulations, more information needs to be known about the total population sizes of Sandhill Cranes, their annual mortality, and their annual recruitment (Krapu, 2011). The Sandhill Crane has many subpopulations depending on the region (Mid-West, Pacific Flyway, Rocky Mountain, Eastern, etc.), and some of these subpopulations overlap. This is problematic because some of these subpopulations are smaller in size and it is not permitted to hunt them (Krapu, 2011). Surveys will be beneficial to obtaining this crucial information for the management of Sandhill Cranes and reduce the negative impact that they have on agricultural lands (Krapu, 2011). This could prove to be costly based on the amount of resources that would be needed to survey the population, such as GPS trackers and qualified personnel.
  6. Guard Dogs: The usage of pets such as guard dogs could be considered as a greener and less expensive form of harassment, although the risk is high as Sandhill Cranes have been known to successfully drive away predators of similar sizes to dogs.
  7. Co-existence: In some states and provinces farmers will receive compensation for crop damage by Sandhill Cranes, Ontario however is still in the process of approving this because population numbers are unknown (Harris, 1996 & Saskatchewan Crop Insurance, n.d.). As well, there are currently no hunting regulations in place to allow the harvest of Sandhill Cranes in Ontario (Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters, 2014). There are actions that farmers can take in order to create a better coexistence between Sandhill Cranes. These actions could include scaring tactics, relocation of agricultural lands, or diversionary agricultural lands (Nilsson, Bunnefeld, Persson, & Månsson, 2016). Scaring tactics have proven effective in keeping Sandhill Cranes off agricultural land and can include propane cannons, flags, or scarecrows (Nilsson et al., 2016). The issue with scaring tactics is that although they are effective at steering birds away from the property they were utilized on, they often just relocate the birds to someone else’s farm (Nilsson et al., 2016). Agricultural damage is more common in lands within close proximity to wetlands or other protected areas (Nilsson et al., 2016). It may not be feasible to ask farmers to relocate their livelihood away from these areas, but if possible it would lessen the impact of Sandhill Cranes on agriculture. Another successful tactic is the creation of diversionary agriculture lands, which is essentially an open field in which birds can graze with no economic impact (Nilsson et al., 2016). Relocating birds to these areas by using scare tactics will decrease the number of birds grazing in valuable agricultural lands.
  8. Falconry: Alternatively, trained raptors could also be used as a management option. Although there are no known reports of using raptors to deter Sandhill Cranes specifically, the raptors are being used to deter other pests. In Canada, the US, and even Dubai, pest control companies use raptors to deter pigeons, raccoons, seagulls etc. In Washington, US, an Aplomado falcon was used to patrol a blueberry field at a farm (The Seattle Times Staff, 2014; Choksi, 2015).
    According to the Government of Ontario (2016), the types of birds that can be used for falconry within Ontario are divided into Ontario native birds and non-indigenous birds. The requirements for hunting with them are:
  • Ontario native birds:

i. A small game hunting license

ii. An identification band on each bird

iii. Maintain a log book, as outlined in as outlined in Ontario Regulation 668/98 27.(1)

iv.  An Apprentice Falconry License (or) a General Falconry License (or) a Commercial Falconry  License. Conditions apply for each license type.

  • Non-indigenous bird

i.  A small game hunting license 

ii. An identification band on each bird

iii. To maintain a log book, as outlined in as outlined in Ontario Regulation 668/98 27.(1)

Management Matrix

Table 2: A visual comparison between each of the factors discussed in the Critical Assessment of Management Options. Although the co-existence between the Sandhill Cranes and the farmers is the most preferred option, it would be a great challenge to gain and assign land to be solely used by the Sandhills. Falconry may be the most effective option, but method is still yet to be tested with Sandhill Cranes (Created using MS Paint and MS Word, tractor image from Clipart Kid, 2016) .


Management Strategy Costs Advantage Disadvantage Factors to Consider Overall Effectiveness







For large scale


For small scale


 screen-shot-2017-02-18-at-11-40-10-pm   screen-shot-2017-02-18-at-11-42-07-pm Size of area to be covered +

$$$  screen-shot-2017-02-18-at-11-38-55-pm  screen-shot-2017-02-18-at-11-42-59-pm Inconvenient in the long run
Hunting $$  screen-shot-2017-02-18-at-11-40-10-pm     screen-shot-2017-02-18-at-11-42-07-pm Cannot use for whole flock
Implement new hunting regulations to suit the population size $$$  screen-shot-2017-02-18-at-11-40-10-pm  screen-shot-2017-02-18-at-11-42-07-pm screen-shot-2017-02-18-at-11-39-01-pm

Costs and equipment to monitor population size

Guard Dogs $  screen-shot-2017-02-18-at-11-40-10-pm  screen-shot-2017-02-18-at-11-42-07-pm Dogs could get attacked
Falconry $$  screen-shot-2017-02-18-at-11-38-55-pm  screen-shot-2017-02-18-at-11-41-28-pm
Yet to be tested

Co-existence between farmers and Sandhill Cranes $$$ capture33  screen-shot-2017-02-18-at-11-42-07-pm Land set aside for just the Sandhills




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