Tag: Ontario

Snow, snow, thick thick snow!

Winter has arrived.

Here’s the forecast from NBC.

As I write this post, yesterday afternoon, it has been snowing for some hours at Hugo Road (ZIP 97532). In the anticipation that we might be snowed in at 8am we drove the short distance to our local Dollar General store to stock up on dog food and other bits and pieces.

So this story from the Daily Dodo seems really apt. I hope you enjoy it.


Stray Dog Found Curled Up In Snow Keeping Orphaned Kittens Warm

Photo Credit: Pet and Wildlife Rescue

Last weekend, while driving on a freezing cold night in Ontario, Canada, a Good Samaritan spotted something that made her stop.

There, curled up on a snowy roadside, was a shivering stray dog.

But she wasn’t alone.

Though the dog could have found a safer place to pass the night, she wasn’t just thinking of herself.

Photo Credit: Pet and Wildlife Rescue

A closer look revealed the kind pup had wrapped herself around five orphaned kittens, whom she was cuddling to keep warm in the biting temperatures.

The Good Samaritan, in turn, saved them all from the freezing night by taking them to the Pet and Wildlife Rescue shelter. But by then, an incredible bond between the dog and kittens had already been formed.

For rescue staff, learning the circumstances of this case made one thing clear: the pup had saved the kittens’ lives.

“It’s truly heartwarming!” a shelter spokesperson told The Dodo. “It had been a very cold night so these kittens would have had a very hard time surviving.”

Photo Credit: Pet and Wildlife Rescue

The kittens are now safe, but require treatment for flea and worm infestations. Meanwhile, the sweet stray dog who saved them insists on overseeing their progress with regular visits — much like a proud mother.

It’s still unclear where the dog or kittens came from originally, or if they knew each other prior to that night. Pet and Wildlife Rescue is hoping an owner will come forward to claim them, but if not they’ll be put up for adoption.

Thanks to that brave pup, however, a sad ending for the kittens was transformed into a happy one.

“Our staff sees many difficult situations on a daily basis and stories like this one make every heartache worth it,” the shelter said.


There may be someone who wants to follow this up by supporting the Pet and Wildlife Rescue in Ontario. So here is the website.

Note that this is the global website, the regional website for the Ontario Wildlife Rescue is here.

The slippery food slope.

The second in this three-part focus on food; both for us and our dogs!

A republication, within the terms of The Conversation site, of an article that was originally published on June 26th, 2018.


Why it’s time to curb widespread use of neonicotinoid pesticides

By  Associate Professor of Entomology and Extension Specialist, Pennsylvania State University

Planting season for corn and soybeans across the U.S. corn belt is drawing to a close. As they plant, farmers are participating in what is likely to be one of the largest deployments of insecticides in United States history.

Almost every field corn seed planted this year in the United States – approximately 90 million acres’ worth – will be coated with neonicotinoid insecticides, the most widely used class of insecticides in the world. The same is true for seeds in about half of U.S. soybeans – roughly 45 million acres and nearly all cotton – about 14 million acres. In total, by my estimate, these insecticides will be used across at least 150 million acres of cropland, an area about the size the Texas.

Neonicotinoids are very good at killing insects. In many cases they require only parts per billion, equivalent to a few drops of insecticide in a swimming pool of water.

In recent years, concerns have been raised about the influence of neonicotinoids on bee populations. As an applied insect ecologist and extension specialist who works with farmers on pest control, I believe the focus on bees has obscured larger concerns. In my view, U.S. farmers are using these pesticides far more heavily than necessary, with potential negative impacts on ecosystems that are poorly understood.

Pesticides on seeds 

Most neonicotinoids in the United States are used to coat field crop seeds. Their role is to protect against a relatively small suite of secondary insect pests – that is, not the main pests that tend to cause yield loss. National companies or seed suppliers apply these coatings, so that when farmers buy seed, they just have to plant it.

The percentage of corn and soybean acreage planted with neonicotinoid seed coatings has increased dramatically since 2004. By 2011, over 90 percent of field corn and 40 percent of soybeans planted were treated with a neonicotinoid. Between 2011 and 2014, the area treated crept toward 100 percent for corn and 50 percent for soybeans. And the mass of neonicotinoids deployed in each crop doubled, indicating that seed suppliers applied about twice as much insecticide per seed. Unfortunately, many farmers are unaware of what is coated on their seeds, while others like the peace of mind that comes from an apparently better protected seed.

Unlike most insecticides, neonicotinoids are water soluble. This means that when a seedling grows from a treated seed, its roots can absorb some of the insecticide that coated the seed. This can protect the seedling for a limited time from insects. But only a small fraction of the insecticide applied to seeds is actually taken up by seedlings. For example, corn seedlings only take up about 2 percent, and it only persists in the plant for two to three weeks. The critical question is where the rest goes.

Clothianidin is a neonicotinoid used almost exclusively as a coating on seed corn. Maps from USGS.

Pervading the environment

Because neonicotinoids are water soluble, the leftover insecticide not taken up by plants can easily wash into nearby waterways. Neonicotinoids from seed coatings are now routinely found polluting streams and rivers around the country.

Here it is likely that they are poisoning and killing off some of the aquatic insects that are vital food sources for fishes, birds and other wildlife. In the Netherlands, neonicotinoids in surface waters have been associated with widespread declines in insectivorous bird populations – a sign that concentrations of these insecticides are having strong effects on food webs.

Neonicotinoids also can strongly influence pest and predator populations in crop fields. My lab’s research has revealed that use of coated seeds can indirectly reduce crop yield by poisoning insect predators that usually kill slugs, which are important crop pests in mid-Atlantic corn and soybeans fields.

More broadly, planting coated seeds generally decreases populations of insect predators in crop fields by 15 to 20 percent. These predatory insects can eat insect pests, such as black cutworm and armyworm, that can reduce yield. Crop fields with fewer resident predators are more vulnerable to pest infestations.

Slugs, shown here on a soybean plant, are unaffected by neonicotinoids, but can transmit the insecticides to beetles that are important slug predators. Nick Sloff/Penn State University, CC BY-ND

An exaggerated need

Neonicotinoid advocates point to reports – often funded by industry – which argue that these products provide value to field crop agriculture and farmers. However, these sources typically assume that insecticides of some type are needed on every acre of corn and soybeans. Therefore, their value calculations rest on comparing neonicotinoid seed coatings to the cost of other available insecticides.

History shows that this assumption is clearly faulty. In the decade before neonicotinoid seed coatings entered the market, only about 35 percent of U.S. corn acres and 5 percent of soybean acres were treated with insecticides. In other words, pest populations did not cause economically significant harm very often.

Importantly, the pest complex attacking corn today is more or less the same as it was in the 1990s. This suggests that it is not necessary to treat hundreds of millions of acres of crops with neonicotinoid seed coatings.

Neonicotinoids can harm birds via multiple pathways, sometimes in very small quantities.

From overkill to moderation

Should the United States follow the European Union’s lead and pass a broad ban on neonicotinoids? In my view, action this drastic is not necessary. Neonicotinoids provide good value in controlling critical pest species, particularly in vegetable and fruit production. However, their use on field crops needs to be reined in.

In the Canadian province of Ontario, growers can only use neonicotinoid seed treatments on 20 percent of their acres. This seems like a good start, but does not accommodate farmers’ needs very well.

Integrated Pest Management (IPM), a control strategy based on using pesticides only when they are economically justified, offers valuable guidelines. It was introduced in the late 1950s in response to issues stemming from overuse of insecticides, including environmental damage and pest populations that had evolved resistance. Field-crop growers have a good history of using IPM, but current use of neonicotinoids ignores pest risk and conflicts with this approach.

To implement IPM in field crops with neonicotinoids, seed companies need to acknowledge that the current approach is overkill and poses serious environmental hazards. Extension entomologists will then need to provide growers with unbiased information on strengths and limitations of neonicotinoids, and help farmers identify crop acres that will benefit from their use. Finally, the agricultural industry needs to eliminate practices that encourage unnecessary use of seed coatings, such as bundling together various seed-based pest management products, and provide more uncoated seeds in their catalogs.

These steps could end the ongoing escalation of neonicotinoid use and change the goal from “wherever possible” to “just enough.”


It’s enough to make one give up!!

Caring does make a difference.

“All that evil needs to succeed is for good people to do nothing.”

You will recall that on the 8th March I published a post called Anger Alert. It was about raising awareness for “Stella has spent the last two years locked in a 3-by-9 foot cage in a kennel in Devon, England. She has never been let out to exercise or play.”

I included a link to a Care2 Petition that as of now has been signed by nearly 38,000 persons including many who read this blog. Thank you. Keep Stella in your thoughts.

Regretably, Stella’s imprisonment has not yet come to an end but here is a good news story that underlines why we must always keep fighting for the things we believe need to be changed.


Over 61,000 Care2 Activists Want To Save These Dogs From Euthanasia


When Kirstyn Smith heard that 31 pit bulls had been rescued from a dog-fighting ring in her native Ontario, Canada, she was thrilled, but then she learned there was a catch: Officials had plans to euthanize the dogs, rather than free them. That’s when she jumped into action and decided to create a Care2 petition.

That petition now has over 61,000 signatures, as people around the world react to the horrifying and deeply unfair death sentence.

Here’s what Smith wrote in her petition:

“My name is Kirstyn Smith and I have been following a very heart-breaking story since October 2015. The town of Chatham-Kent, ON fell victim to a horrible and cruel act where 31 pitbull-type dogs were seized from an alleged dog fighting-ring.

 These animals need our help.

Please sign and share this petition to demand that these dogs are treated humanely, medically taken care of and rehabilitated in order to live out their lives away from torture and neglect.”

Close To Victory

On March 10, she issued this update to her petition:

“We are so close! The accused have agreed to hand over ownership to Dog Tales Sanctuary in King City, ON. This is incredible news, but we still need the Ministry of Community Safety & Correctional Services to give proper designation which will allow the dogs to legally reside in Ontario. Thank you to each and every one of you for your support on this long journey!!”

Smith is referring to the fact that pit bulls are banned in the province of Ontario, and only a pound can take in pit bull-type dogs. However, Dog Tales is not a pound, so the sanctuary must make a special application in an effort to get the designation that will allow them to take in the pit bulls.

This of course is not unique to Ontario. Pit bulls are banned or restricted in most Canadian provinces; in the U.S., over 700 cities have enacted breed-specific legislation which is any ordinance, or dog law, that relates to specific dog breeds but does not affect any others.

The next court date will be March 18, and there will likely be another one after that, but things are moving forward in a positive way, thanks largely to Smith’s persistence and the awesome support of those 61,000 Care2 activists.

An Awesome Sanctuary

If justice prevails, these dogs will move to their new home, which CTV News London describes as an “opulent sanctuary in King City, Ontario, which is owned by one of Canada’s richest families.”

“The issues present are nothing that we haven’t seen before, and nothing that we feel cannot be changed with time, patience, and the proper technique,” says Clare Forndran, a spokesperson at Dog Tales Rescue and Sanctuary.

“At Dog Tales we are fortunate enough to have the facilities and the resources to provide for our dogs in ways that many other shelters cannot,” owner Danielle Eden said in an email.

While this story has come a long way and is very close to a happy ending, it’s not quite there yet.

You can help rescue these dogs from a death sentence by signing Smith’s petition, asking the authorities to treat these animals humanely, and take care of them so that they can live out their lives away from torture and neglect. 

And if you have a cause that you care deeply about, and want to make a difference in the world, you can create your own petition, just as Kirstyn Smith did. You’ll soon find the Care2 community of activists ready to join you in your cause. And if you’d like to read more about petitions, you can check out this handy guide.


So, please, if you are not one of those 61,000 who have already signed this petition then, without delay, go here and add your support to this wonderful cause.

Picture parade eight

Beautiful waterfalls.

Can’t recall how, but recently I came across a wonderful collection of photographs of waterfalls presented by MNN – Mother Nature Network.  There are 16 photographs; I took the liberty of sharing just a few of them with you today.

Dettifoss Located in Northeast Iceland, the massive Dettifoss is generally recognized as the largest and most powerful waterfall in Europe. It is protected within the Vatnajökull National Park and remains untapped as an energy source. Plans to build a hydroelectric plant at the site have proven to be an engineering risk.

Located in Northeast Iceland, the massive Dettifoss is generally recognized as the largest and most powerful waterfall in Europe. It is protected within the Vatnajökull National Park and remains untapped as an energy source. Plans to build a hydroelectric plant at the site have proven to be an engineering risk.

Gocta Cataracts

Well-known to locals for centuries, this towering waterfall remained a secret from the rest of the world until as recently as 2005, when German explorer Stefan Ziemendorff became the first outsider to witness it. Located in a remote Amazonian province in Peru, the Gocta Cataracts is one of the world’s tallest waterfalls. Though accurate measurements of its height have yet to be taken, an initial estimate placed it as the third highest in the world.

Locals kept the location secret because they feared that revealing its whereabouts would release the curse of a beautiful blond mermaid who is rumored to live in the waters.
Havasu Falls
Havasu Falls

Plunging over majestic red rocks and pooling into milky, turquoise water, it’s easy to see why Havasu Falls is one of the most photographed waterfalls in the world. It helps that the location is deep within breathtaking Grand Canyon National Park, where the waters eventually converge with the mighty Colorado River.

Kaieteur Falls

Located in Guyana’s Kaieteur National Park, this waterfall is reputed to pour more water over a great height than any other waterfall in the world. According to the World Waterfalls Database, Kaieteur Falls is the world’s 123rd tallest (single and multi-drop waterfall) and the 19th largest waterfall in terms of volume. In other words, this site has a rare combination of height and water volume, which helps to quantify its spectacular beauty.

Niagara Falls
Niagara Falls

The most powerful and most famous waterfall in North America, Niagara Falls pours more than 6 million cubic feet of water over its crest line every minute during high flow. Located on the border between the state of New York and the province of Ontario, Canada, the falls are an important source of hydroelectric power for both countries. The site has inspired its share of daredevils who have attempted to plummet over the falls in barrels, or who have tiptoed over them on a high wire.

Nature's Power
Nature’s Power

Few natural wonders encapsulate the sublime power and impermanence of the wild better than roaring waterfalls. The force of a waterfall can carve a valley out of mountains, shape the world’s grandest canyons and even power our electrical grids.

Many more wonderful photographs to admire on MNN.

Now for something completely different!

Here are two photographs taken on Friday when a mother deer and her young fawn overcame shyness of Jean in order to feed on some grains that Jean had placed near her car.

Trust between deer and Jean.
Trust between deer and Jean.

Later the young fawn was nibbling the grass in front of the tractor, allowing the following picture to be taken.

Magical moment.
Magical moment.

We sincerely hope we can set up some regular pattern of feeding the deer, especially during the coming Winter.

What part of the word ‘change’ are you having trouble with?

Climate change denialists and cloud cuckoo land!

Yesterday, I republished the recent Post from Martin Lack under my title of Playing with fire!  In that Post there was a reference to just one example of the very different climatic world that we all live in.  That reference was to the recent huge devastation of the apple and soft-fruit crops in Northern USA and Canada.

The website Climate Denial Crock of the Week carried the story in a clear and fine fashion.  Let me borrow some of that content,

Canada/US Great Lakes Area Fruit Growers “Wipeout” Due to Extreme Spring. Deniers: “They Need More CO2″

May 18, 2012

The brown centre of an apple blossom indicates a bloom that would not result in an apple being produced following this spring’s unusual weather.

Elsewhere on the blog, we are still hearing that “CO2 is good for Plants”. Meanwhile, here in the reality based community….

Windsor Star, May 5: 

A catastrophic freeze has wiped out about 80 per cent of Ontario’s apple crop and has the fruit industry looking at losses already estimated at more than $100 million.

“This is the worst disaster fruit growers have ever, ever experienced,” Harrow-area orchard owner Keith Wright said Friday. “We’ve been here for generations and I’ve never heard of this happening before.

“This is unheard of … all fruit growing areas in the Great Lakes area, in Michigan, Pennsylvania, New York State, Ontario, are all basically wiped out.”

Wright lost hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of apples and peaches Sunday morning when freezing temperatures killed the blossoms.

Warm temperatures caused fruit trees to bloom early and when temperatures plummeted Sunday morning it damaged or wiped out much of the $60-million apple crop and 20 to 30 per cent of Ontario’s $48-million tender fruit crop which includes peaches, cherries, pears, plums and nectarines.

Brian Gilroy, a Georgian Bay-area apple grower who is chairman of the Ontario Apple Growers, said the loss to fruit growers and the economy will easily be more than $100 million. On top of the lost yield or no crop at all, orchard workers and spinoff industries such as juice, packing, storage and farm supplies will be affected.

Gilroy said consumers will find locally grown apples pricey and difficult to find this fall. Some varieties of apples, such as Empire, will be very difficult to find.

Washington State has a good crop but consumers should expect apple prices to jump because all of northeastern North America was affected, he said.

The article goes on to report from the Globe and Mail and the Toronto Star.  It does not make for pretty reading!

Then in a private email, Martin referred me to this Think Progress article of May 19th,

April 2012: Earth’s 5th Warmest On Record And La Niña Officially Ends, So The Heat Is On.

By Climate Guest Blogger on May 19, 2012 at 3:09 pm

JR: It’s remarkable how warm it was globally in April considering that we were only just coming out of a double dip La Niña. If we don’t triple dip, we’ll set more temperature records soon. Indeed, NOAA models predict a good chance of an El Niño forming in the late summer, which would make it quite likely next year would be the hottest on record. As for April, you’ll note it was hot in the ‘wrong’ places again — over much of the tundra, which is a carbon time bomb

The Think Progress article then draws heavily on an extensive comment from Dr.Jeff Master’s WunderBlog that I am going republish, hopefully in the interests of helping to spread the truth about this planet of ours.

April 2012 was the globe’s 5th warmest April on record, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Climatic Data Center (NCDC). NASA rated April 2012 as the 4th warmest April on record. April 2012 global land temperatures were the 2nd warmest on record, and the Northern Hemisphere land surface temperature was 1.74°C (3.13°F) above the 20th century average, marking the warmest April since records began in 1880. Global ocean temperatures were the 11th warmest on record, and April 2012 was the 427th consecutive month with ocean temperatures warmer than the 20th century average. The last time the ocean temperatures were below average was September 1976. The increase in global temperatures relative to average compared to March 2012 (16th warmest March on record) was due, in part, to warming waters in the Eastern Pacific, due to the La Niña event that ended in April. Global satellite-measured temperatures for the lowest 8 km of the atmosphere were 6th or 4th warmest in the 34-year record, according to Remote Sensing Systems and the University of Alabama Huntsville (UAH). April temperatures in the stratosphere were the 1st to 4th coldest on record. We expect cold temperatures there due to the greenhouse effect and to destruction of ozone due to CFC pollution. Northern Hemisphere snow cover during April was 4th smallest in the 46-year record. Wunderground’s weather historian, Christopher C. Burt, has a comprehensive post on the notable weather events of April in his April 2012 Global Weather Extremes Summary. Notably, national heat records (for warmest April temperature on record) occurred in the United States (a tie), Germany, Austria, Poland, Belarus, Lithuania, Moldova, Hungry, Croatia, Ukraine, and Slovakia as well as the cities of Moscow and Munich.

Figure 1. Departure of temperature from average for April 2012. The most notable extremes were the warmth observed across Russia, the United States, Alaska, and parts of the Middle East and eastern Europe. There were no land areas with large-scale cold conditions of note. Image credit: National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) .

La Niña officially ends

According to NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center (CPC), La Niña conditions are no longer present in the equatorial Pacific, where sea surface temperatures were approximately average as of May 13. The threshold for a La Niña is for these temperatures to be 0.5°C below average or cooler. CPC forecasts that neutral conditions will persist though the summer, with a 41% chance of an El Niño event developing in time for the August – September – October peak of hurricane season. El Niño conditions tend to decrease Atlantic hurricane activity, by increasing wind shear over the tropical Atlantic.

Figure 2. Arctic sea ice extent in 2012 (blue line) compared to the average (thick grey line.) The record low year of 2007 (dashed green line) is also shown. Arctic sea ice was near average during April, but has fallen well below average during the first half of May. Image credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC).

April Arctic sea ice extent near average
Arctic sea ice extent was near average in April 2012, the 17th lowest (18th greatest) extent in the 35-year satellite record, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC). This was the largest April Arctic sea ice extent since 2001. However, ice in the Arctic is increasingly young, thin ice, which will make it easy for this year’s ice to melt away to near-record low levels this summer, if warmer than average weather occurs in the Arctic.

So to those that still think the jury is out on climate change, let me just repeat the title, “What part of the word change are you having trouble with?”