The wildlife of the Swan Lake Christmas Hill Nature Sanctuary face several threats over the long term:
Habitat Loss — Because our population is growing and our city is sprawling, fewer natural wildlife habitat areas are left. The habitat that remains has often been degraded to bear little resemblance to the natural wild areas which existed in the past. Some wildlife species have very specific plant, moisture and temperature requirements. These are the endangered species which we risk losing if we don’t preserve adequate amounts of habitat for their survival. Even common species such as voles have lost their habitat due to intrusion.
Climate Change — Because many types of plants and animals have specific habitat requirements, climate change causes disastrous losses to wildlife species. Higher temperatures could increase evaporation year round, and may reduce rainfall, leading to drier than normal conditions. Plants and wildlife are sensitive to moisture changes, so they will be harmed by this dryness. Unfortunately, trees and plants can’t simply pick up and move to a more hospitable location. Instead, they will die where they stand, exposing and starving the wildlife that depend on them.
Pesticides and Toxic Chemicals — Pesticides are deliberately spread to make the environment toxic to certain plants, insects or rodents, so it shouldn’t be surprising that other plants and wildlife are often harmed at the same time. While many of the worst pesticides have been outlawed in the past 30 years, scientists have found numerous worries with several pesticides which are still legal and commonly used. In addition, many chemical pollutants are toxic to wildlife, such as PCBs, mercury, petroleum by-products, solvents, anti-freeze, etc.
Non-native Species — Many non-native flora and fauna and diseases are impacting the Sanctuary’s wildlife. These include such well-known headaches as bullfrogs, purple loosestrife, gypsy moths, milfoil, dogs and feral cats. These “aliens” are often aggressive competitors with native wildlife, or predatory, especially after they’ve left their own natural environments and controls.
At Swan Lake Christmas Hill Nature Sanctuary we are addressing these problems by:
- Inventorying our wildlife species
- Educating the public about the importance of retaining a wildlife friendly habitat
- Establishing nesting and feeding opportunities for birds and turtles through strategic plantings of native plant species
- Providing wildlife trees by not removing all dead trees from the property
- Enforcing “No Dog” bylaws
- Restricting public access to highly sensitive habitat areas