Volunteer Spotlight: Miranda Cant

Miranda Cant Volunteer 2017This August we are sending off volunteer Miranda Cant with a huge thank you for lending her time and energy to sharing conservation with our community.

While it's always sad to see one of the HAT volunteer team head out, we know Miranda will bring her enthusiasm and knowledge about nature with her wherever it takes her. 

Miranda holds a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science at Royal Roads University. Her love of being outside and interacting with people and the environment makes her a natural fit for the HAT volunteer team. According to Miranda, "HAT has provided me something to look forward to on the weekends and allowed me to get out in the community, and I am forever thankfull!"

Miranda came to us this year and dove right in to HAT's outreach program, attending events to pass on the message of habitat stewardship. Miranda also joined the annual bat count!

Miranda says, "I first found out about HAT when I was volunteering with the Nature Conservancy at the Matson Conservation Area. I got inspired by the similar work they did, like the Nature Conservancy but at a regional level. I am inspired to volunteer with organizations such as HAT as it allows me to meet like minded individuals in the community. I love meeting new people who are just as passionate about the environment as I am!"

She adds, "My favourite experience volunteering with HAT is a tie between the In Bloom Festival at the Cowichan Garry Oak Preserve and bat counting. It was absolutely beautiful at the preserve and I felt honoured to be able to visit the property and educate people about HAT." When it comes to bat counting Miranda shares, "I have learned a lot more about bats and seeing them fly and the different places they live is just so cool."

When it comes to broadening horizons, Miranda explains that volunteering with HAT has helped a lot, "I have learned many things since I’ve started volunteering with HAT! I learned about the Blue grey Taildropper slug and how in Canada its only been recorded on Vancouver Island! How cool is that. I learned about the White Nose Syndrome affecting bats in Eastern Canada, as well as how common it is to have bats in residential areas."

"HAT has given me the opportunity to learn more about Vancouver Island and spread that knowledge to my class mates." - Miranda Cant

Thank you Miranda, we are so grateful to you for sharing your kindness and enthusiasm with the community!


Read more: Volunteer Spotlight: Miranda Cant

Conservation Connection Forum 2017: Early Bird Discount Tickets on sale now!

Conservation Connection Plain Logo

October 12th, Thurs

More than one hundred people representing First Nations, land trusts, wildlife conservation experts, environmental groups, and those caring for nature across South Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands, and beyond come together bi-annually for the Conservation Connection presented by Habitat Acquisition Trust. With renowed speakers, a beautiful space to gather and collaborate, active nature walks, as well as a benefit auction night this is the event of the season. This local conference is surely not to be missed.

Businesses and Sponsorship

For those that wish to advertise their business with this event and act on their desire to support a green local economy, contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.or 250-995-2428 to negotiate a sponsorship. Monetary sponsorships and donations of goods or services for the silent auction benefit will allow our charity to fund ongoing programs for children in nature, species of concern, and habitat protection. Contact us by September 2017 for maximum exposure!

I want to attend

Space is limited, reserve your spot today for this expected sell-out event. Call 250-995-2428 and This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to be the first to secure tickets. Tickets available online here.

The Speaker Line-up

Coming soon... sign up for The Fern Newsletter to receive regular Habitat Acquisition Trust updates.

A teaser from the last Conservation Connection Forum here.


This event is funded by:

Logo vancity.svgvictoria foundation logo

To become a sponsor contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..c 250-995-2428


Click below for more details


Read more: Conservation Connection Forum 2017: Early Bird Discount Tickets on sale now!

Pete Lewis Board Biography

Lewis Photo for HAT WebsitePete Lewis

Retired, Provincial Director of Aquatic Information and Professional Geoscientist (Geomorphologist)

Pete worked in the Canadian Arctic for 16 years as a federal scientist and manager before moving to BC in 1981 where he was involved in many aspects of provincial natural resource information programs.  He has also been active in Scouting outdoor programs for many years and previously served on the HAT Board from 2004 to 2009.  Pete sees HAT’s open, collaborative approach as an important contribution to connecting local residents, including youth, to the outdoors and the natural environment.


Read more: Pete Lewis Board Biography

Invasive Red-Eared Slider Turtles: A greater threat than first suspected

WPT group on log KO photoA row of turtles basks on a log in the lake, the sun warms their bodies like contented sunbathers. It’s a delightful, idyllic scene – or is it?

Take a closer look at those turtles. Do they have a vivid red-orange underbelly? Or is the belly yellow and the cheeks with a blushing red to brown streak?

If you’ve spotted a turtle that appears painted red to orange on its belly, you’re lucky to be looking at Vancouver Island’s only remaining native species of freshwater turtle, a member of the endangered coastal population of Western Painted Turtles (Chrysemys picta bellii). A welcome sight and an animal that needs all the help it can get to keep its remaining wetland habitat livable.

If you’ve spotted a turtle with a yellow belly, “red ears”, or a bold yellow Z-stripe on the side of its face, you are looking at an abandoned pet. Red-eared Sliders (Trachemys scripta elegans) and Yellowbelly Sliders (Trachemys scripta scripta) can live to 50 years old, and grow to over 30 cm (12 inches) long. Pet owners that find themselves unwilling to honour a life-long commitment to their turtles look to the great outdoors - Instead of responsibly finding their pet a new home or surrendering pets to an animal shelter. Yes, many turtles – at least 6 species – have been abandoned in our lakes and ponds. Unfortunately, the wild is not the place for domestically raised, non-native species. Of all the species released here in BC, only one – the Red-eared Slider – is released in sufficient number to allow males an females to find each other.

Other turtles released in BC include the Common Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentine), a Map Turtle (Graptemys sp.), Reeve’s Turtle (Chinemys reevsi), European Pond Terrapin (Emys orbicularis), and one species of softshell turtle (Apalone sp.). These five are disctinctive and cannot be mistaken for our native Painted Turtle.

Red eared slider nestingIf an abandoned pet Slider survives the ordeal of going from a cozy, all-inclusive home to fending for itself outdoors, it now poses a serious risk to coexisting with Western Painted Turtles. We have found that Sliders frequently have respiratory disease when rescued from the wild, and this could be spread to native Painted Turtles.

WPT log ken groatDisease is not the only problem, introduced Sliders compete with native turtles for basking habitat, food, and nesting sites. Not only that, but Sliders increase pressure on other species as they gobble up plants, crustaceans, aquatic insects, snails, amphibians, and their eggs. As bigger turtles, Sliders can easily dominate basking logs. Basking spots are not only a nice place to catch some sun, they are essential to maintaining healthy metabolic rate and digestive function in Painted Turtles. Suitable habitat for Painted Turtles is essential, yet in the Victoria region over 80% of pre-colonial wetlands have already been lost, and water quality has declined in the remaining waterbodies with alteration of flow, as well as modern use of industrial chemicals, fertilizers, and pesticides. Now Painted Turtles have to cope with abandoned pets on top of habitat loss and degradation.

Red-eared Sliders are among the top 100 worst invaders recognized by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). But at least these non-native Sliders can’t hatch babies in British Columbia’s cool northern climate… right? While this was once thought to be true, it turns out our worst fears about the invaders are confirmed. BC’s first record of successfully hatched Slider nestlings in the wild came in 2015, during Coastal Painted Turtle Project nest monitoring in Delta. Before this, we had only found Slider nests with partially developed embryos, and nearly successful but dead hatchlings. The survival of Slider hatchlings in 2015 is concerning for a number of reasons. With projected climate warming, the nesting success of Sliders may only increase. Not only that but, Slider’s lower age of maturity could provide a reproductive edge in overtaking our endangered Painted Turtles locally.

bb wptSo what’s to be done about this rival for precious habitat? Aimee Mitchell and researchers at the Coastal Painted Turtle Project recommend recording non-native turtle and nest observations, removing non-native turtles before successful breeding, monitoring the area following removal, and public education on non-native turtles.

Habitat Acquisition Trust welcomes your observations of turtles and turtle nests on South Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands. Please send your observations, with clear photographs whenever possible, to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Thank you to Gavin Hanke of the Royal BC Museum and Aimee Mitchell of the Coastal Painted Turtle Partnership for information included in this article.

Habitat Acquisition Trust’s Western Painted Turtle program for habitat restoration, enhancement, and education on South Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands is funded by Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Habitat Stewardship Program and people like you. Please support local turtle stewardship with a gift at hat.bc.ca/donate.

Photo of Western Painted Turtles on a log by Kristiina Ovaska.



Read more: Invasive Red-Eared Slider Turtles: A greater threat than first suspected

Fire at Mount Quimper Conservation Covenant

Mount Quimper Fire Jun 2017 from aboveAround 1:00 pm on Tuesday, July 4th, Sooke Firefighters, the Capital Regional District (CRD) and Ministry of Forestry were called to the scene of a forest fire on Mt. Manuel Quimper. Mt. Manuel Quimper is part of the Sooke Hills Conservation Covenants co-held by Habitat Acquisition Trust and The Land Conservancy. These lands are owned by the CRD. 

Thanks to fire suppression by Sooke Fire and Rescue, the fire never never reached a hectare in size. However, some of the trees were chain-sawed and pink fire-retardent covered the area. The fire was located around the Manzanita Trail, which is a Mountain Biking trail in the Mount Quimper area of the Sooke Hills Sea-to-Sea park. 

Mount Quimper Fire Jun 2017This incident is a clear reminder of how flammable the ecosystems of our area are at this time of year, and to practice extreme fire caution when out and about. The fire's proximity to the existing trail and lack of lightning in the area at the time suggests that this fire is human caused. Open fires are currently banned across British Columbia, at the time of writing, and the province remains in a state of emergency due to wildlfires. We would also like to remind park visitors that CRD by-law prohibits smoking in public parks. 

Mount Quimper Fire Jun 2017 2The fire at Mount Quimper impacted both a thickly forest area and aopen rock outrcop meadows, where the thick mossy layers will take a long time to recover. As a result of the fire, there are anumber of charred, dead trees left still standing. If visiting this area of the park, be aware of the possible danger presented by standing dead trees.

Thank you to everyone visiting this area responsibly and supporting your local land trust in the protection of your community's natural areas. 

More on the Sooke Hills Conservation Covenants here.


Read more: Fire at Mount Quimper Conservation Covenant

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