Beaver Creek Welcomes Back Visitors and Sheep

We look forward to having your out again at the Beaver Creek site for our new extended fall hours of Thursday to Sunday, 10:00 am to 5:00 pm., starting September 10th, 2020!

There is so much to see in the active autumn time for wildlife around and we have completed many new improvements including upgrades to the interpretive building, deck repairs, railing replacement, new windows for the office area, removal of exterior shutters, and siding replacement very soon! Trail improvements such as stair and railing repairs are also planned. Demolition is mostly completed around the building and the contractor is now mobilized on site. A restoration plan will be developed to address areas disturbed during construction.

The site reopen date is set for September 10th, 2020 with offerings to support additional health and safety precautions, our hope is that all the efforts undertaken have and will continue to flatten the curve of COVID-19.

 


Sheep Grazing

Meewasin is bringing back a herd of sheep to Beaver Creek Conservation Area once again to practice targeted conservation grazing, at these beautiful, scenic areas of native grasslands!

Come out to Beaver Creek Conservation Area on September 10 to 13 and/or September 17 to 20, 2020 to view firsthand how sheep are managed by the shepherd and his stock dog to help with Meewasin’s conservation efforts!

Demonstrations will be occurring each of the days listed above at 10:30 am and 2:30 pm. and will be limited to 30 people in close proximity.  Register now to secure your spot (must also arrive 15 minutes early).

Below is some important information to keep in mind:

• Extended fall hours are Thursday-Sunday 10 am to 5 pm.; with recommended 1-2 hour visits, so that everyone gets a chance to explore. 
• The Interpretive Centre is only open for washroom use, otherwise Interpretive Centre is closed.
• We are anticipating a large number of visitors and capacity will be restricted for safety .
• Sheep demos will be limited to 30 people in close proximity, with more scheduled at the end of September at the Northeast Swale
• Call ahead to check availability/business of the site 

Grazing demonstrations are also scheduled for 1:00 pm and 4:00 pm on September 28th, 30th, and October 3rd at the Northeast Swale! Register now to secure your spot (must also arrive 15 minutes early).

Tick Sampling at Beaver Creek

Ticks are a commonly feared insect for the fact that they can carry diseases such as Lyme disease. Researchers Dr Maarten J. Voordouw, and others from the University of Saskatchewan and University of Regina conducted research about ticks at Beaver Creek Conservation Area. Their research included documenting different environmental factors to try to determine which areas ticks thrive in the most.

The Study Method and Technique

An American dog tick found in the Meewasin Valley

On June 26th, 2020, the group of researchers from the University of Saskatchewan and the University of Regina went sampling for ticks at Beaver Creek Conservation Area. The day was sunny and due to the park closure the trails were devoid of visitors. To standard way to capture ticks is the dragging technique, which involves pulling a white flag attached to a dowel over the vegetation. Ticks are sit-and-wait predators that climb up the vegetation and wait with outstretched legs to grapple onto a passing host. The moving flag simulates a host and the dark-coloured ticks are easy to spot against the white background.

What’s the Purpose of the Study?

The point of the study is to look for the blacklegged tick (Ixodes scapularis), which can transmit Lyme disease. However, as this tick species is not very common in Saskatchewan, trying to find it is like looking for a needle in a haystack. In contrast, the researchers had no problems finding the American dog tick (Dermacentor variabilis), which is by far the most common tick species in Saskatchewan. More than 95% of all tick bites in the province of Saskatchewan involve this tick species, which is not competent to transmit Lyme disease. In the USA, American dog ticks are known to transmit Rocky Mountain spotted fever and tularemia, but previous research has shown that the risk of these tick-borne diseases in Saskatchewan is low (for reasons that are not entirely understood).

The Results

The researchers dragged the flags for a total distance of 2 km. The protocol requires the measurement of GPS coordinates every 25 meters as well as measurements on leaf litter depth, soil humidity, and canopy cover. After completing the 2 km transect, more than 60 American dog ticks had been collected and placed in vials filled with 100% ethanol. Storing the ticks in this way prevents the degradation of DNA and allows the ticks to be tested for micro-organisms in the future.

This work is part of a long-term tick pan-Canadian sampling effort to determine the risk of exposure to blacklegged ticks and Lyme disease, which varies greatly across Canada. Over the last 30 years, the blacklegged tick has invaded and established itself in Ontario, Quebec, the Maritime Provinces, and Manitoba. In contrast, self-reproducing populations of blacklegged ticks have not yet been detected in Saskatchewan or Alberta. One possible explanation is that the dry prairie habitat throughout much of southern Saskatchewan is not suitable for blacklegged ticks, which are found in more forested areas and are very sensitive to desiccation. For this reason, the risk of Lyme disease in Saskatchewan and Alberta is much lower compared to other Canadian provinces. However, there have been locally acquired cases of Lyme disease in Saskatchewan.

How Else do we Get Exposed to Ticks?

If blacklegged ticks are not established in Saskatchewan, what explains these locally acquired cases? The answer is believed to be migratory birds. During the spring, migratory birds are estimated to drop off millions of blacklegged ticks in Canada. Some of these ticks are infected with Lyme disease and they can survive in the environment and bite another unlucky host. So, while the risk of Lyme disease in Saskatchewan is low, it is important to remember that there is still a risk. One more reason for the researchers to keep monitoring the tick situation in Saskatchewan.

Conclusion

The University of Saskatchewan’s Tick Surveillance program

Although the risk for being infected with Lyme disease from ticks in Saskatchewan and the Meewasin Valley are quite low, it is still important to know how to identify and add to the research done on them.

If you find a tick on yourself or your pet, you can learn how to identify it, remove it, and submit for research on this Government of Canada page. The University of Saskatchewan also has a tick surveillance program, which you can contribute to by simply taking a photo. Learn more about on their webpage.

Most of this article was written by: Dr Maarten J. Voordouw, assistant professor in the Department of Veterinary Microbiology at the University of Saskatchewan

COVID-19 Updates – Trail Guidelines & Closures

Meewasin is committed to measures to slow the progress and flatten the curve of infections for COVID-19. To ensure that the general public and our staff are safe we are taking all preventative measures possible to stop the transmission of the virus. With this in mind Beaver Creek Conservation Area and the Meewasin Valley Authority Main Office will be closed with staff working remotely until further notice.

A Complete List of Site Closures:

Meewasin Valley Main Office – CLOSED until further notice

Beaver Creek Conservation Area – CLOSED until (target date) September 10th, 2020.

Trail Guidelines

Many parts of the Meewasin Trail remain open. Please follow the physical distancing guidelines below to Please follow the guidelines below to prevent the spread of COVID-19

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you need to contact Meewasin, please call (306) 665-6887 or email meewasin@meewasin.com and watch www.meewasin.com for updates.

Virtual Nature Tour of Beaver Creek

Experience spring out at Beaver Creek and dive into nature with our interpreter Jamie!

A tour at Beaver Creek Conservation Area is always bursting with wildlife including various animals, plants, and insects! Spring is an especially exciting time, where many species are blooming, or having babies.

Due to COVID-19, Beaver Creek is closed until advisable, but follow along with Jamie’s adventure to see some unique and adorable species found in the Meewasin Valley in Saskatoon & area virtually, until it’s safe to come out again!