Deep in the wilderness of south Saskatchewan, on the edge of Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park, sits a ranch that covers thousands of acres of grassland and is home to some amazing animals, including a number of species at risk. The Northern Leopard Frog hops through the grassland’s ponds in groups called armies (fitting since they already look like they’re decked out in the coolest camouflage), and the Loggerhead Shrike flies high above the tall grass hunting for its next meal. It might look like an unassuming songbird, but the shrike is a skilled hunter with an unusual (and pretty neat, if not kinda disgusting) hunting style… and one that we’ll leave you to learn more about if you’re feeling brave!
Both of these important critters rely on the native grasses that thrive in the prairies, but unfortunately the invasive leafy spurge plant has started to take over. Not only does this plant outgrow the native grasses, but it secretes a milky liquid that can seriously hurt animals that come into contact with it. With less native grassland habitat available species like the Loggerhead Shrike are at serious risk – and that’s where you come in, Earth Rangers!
This Earth Month, we’re working with South of the Divide Conservation Action Program (SODCAP) to help control the spread of leafy spurge in the prairies. Not only is this project awesome for helping restore important habitat, but just how it does that definitely earns it some extra cool points – we weren’t kidding when we told you it might just be the coolest project you’d ever herd of!
Aside from the amazing humans that make this project run, SODCAP has a team of unlikely partners: goats! Goats are one of the few animals that can eat the leafy spurge plant without getting sick, and in fact they’ll actually make the spurge a big portion of their daily diet – which means that they’ll happily chow down on the invasive plant that’s otherwise taking over the prairie grassland. More goats means less spurge, and less spurge means more space and resources for the important native prairie grasses to grow. Check them out hard at work!
This amazing project is just one of THREE that we’re supporting this Earth Month – and that you can support too by starting a Bring Back the Wild campaign! Visit www.earthrangers.com/earthmonth to learn more, check back for project updates, and remember, these little guys need love too!