Banded Killifish 2019

The Banded Killifish (Fundulus diaphanous) is a small fish that are generally between the size of a stickleback (a.k.a. pinfish) and a brook trout. They have an olive like color with alternating lighter and darker stripes on their sides stretching from their back to their stomach.  Although banded killifish are found throughout Atlantic Canada and into Manitoba, there are only seven documented locations in Newfoundland and Labrador. Of the seven sites, six are in coastal southwestern Newfoundland, and the other is northeastern Newfoundland.

The lack of information about where the banded killifish are found has presented an opportunity for us to do more research on developing a better understanding of other locations and the habitat preference for the Newfoundland population. During the 2016 field season, Qalipu Natural Resources (QNR) staff discovered banded killifish in a remote, high elevation pond in the Bay of Islands region. This discovery led to an expansion in sampling effort throughout the Bay of Islands region for the 2017 season. The 2018 sampling season went well with the continued survey and monitoring of Banded Killifish in the pond in which they were discovered in 2016. Although our sample size was small, we were still able to learn more about this interesting species. As we observed last year, adjusting our trapping times helped with our trapping success. In addition to this, we also learned about bait preference of banded killifish. After talking with other banded killifish researchers, we learned that banded killifish prefer Ritz crackers over No Name soda crackers.

We are happy with our repeated findings in the Bay of Islands this year and are already making plans for the upcoming season. With the knowledge we have gained from last season, we hope that this upcoming season will be our most successful yet. This year we are planning to continue monitoring where we find banded killifish within the pond, throughout the year. Stay tuned for our next killifish update.

This is an Environment and Climate Change Canada funded project. For More information about Banded Killifish, please visit https://wildlife-species.canada.ca/species-risk-registry/species/speciesDetails_e.cfm?sid=85

Piping Clover

Piping Plover 2018-2019 Update from the Natural Resources Department

The piping plover is an endangered ground nesting shorebird that inhabits our shores from late spring until early fall. Plovers can be found on mostly sandy beaches (with some larger grain and smaller rock) and in coastal dunes where vegetation is sparse and mostly limited to grasses. This year, Qalipu continued its monitoring of the Piping plover (Charadrius melodus melodus) in the Bay St. George region. We returned to the same sites which we have been surveying the past number of years; Sandy Point, Flat Bay Peninsula, Stephenville Crossing, and Black Bank.

During the 2018-2019 field season a total of twelve individuals were spotted at Flat Bay and Sandy Point combined including seven chicks, and seven adults, four of which made up two breeding pairs. At Black Bank, a total of ten individuals were spotted consisting of four chicks and six adults, four of which made up two breeding pairs. The piping plover chicks and two breeding pairs that were spotted at Black bank were only seen once. The fate of the chicks could not be confirmed at any of the locations.

It is important to remember that the same beaches in which piping plover inhabit are one’s that are favorable to recreational activities (riding ATVs, sun bathing, swimming, beach fires, etc.).  This can make things difficult for preventing disturbance of the species during their nesting period. There are some preventative measures we can take when using beaches that have suitable piping plover habitat or are inhabited by piping plovers. The following list of recommendations is collected from Environment and Climate Change Canada’s promotional materials:

  • Between April and August stay away from recognized piping plover breeding and nesting areas. Walk on the wet sand, close to the water’s edge.
  • Keep your pets on a leash. Wandering pets can disturb nesting birds and be significantly harmful to chicks and fledglings
  • Clean up garbage found on the beach and if you pack it in, pack it out. Food wrapping and waste can attract scavenging predators
  • Leave natural debris on the beach as piping plovers rely on these resources for food and cover. These include seaweed, shells, and woody debris
  • Do not operate any vehicles on beaches or coastal dunes. Doing so can disturb nesting plovers, cause chicks to get stuck in tire ruts and separated from their mothers, crush eggs/chicks, and in the case of riding in dunes, accelerate coastal erosion in the area and cause permanent habitat loss.
  • Report the location of piping plovers and their nests to the Canadian Wildlife Service (CWS) or Qalipu Fisheries Guardians
  • If you see people, or pets disturbing piping plovers or their nests, contact CWS to report the disturbance. It’s a federal offence under the Species at Risk Act to harass species at risk.

Join a local stewardship group or volunteer organization to help protect species at risk and talk to others about these best practices to help protect our species at risk.  You can contact CWS for more information on Piping Plover groups in your local area

RfCPP Report Featured Image

Removal of Natural Obstructions to Improve Atlantic Salmon and Brook Trout Habitat in Western NL

Flat Bay Brook and Harry’s River are popular Atlantic Salmon and Brook Trout fishing systems in western Newfoundland. As of July 2014, the retention level for Atlantic Salmon on these systems was increased from two to four fish (DFO 2014). Increased fishing pressure may slow or prevent future population growth. Furthermore, large expanses of breeding habitat along Flat Bay Brook and Harry’s River tributaries are inaccessible due to natural obstructions. Active and inactive beaver dams coupled with low water levels can prevent the upstream migration of Atlantic Salmon and instream migration of Brook Trout (Collen and Gibson 2001, Mitchell and Cunjak 2007, Taylor et al. 2010). These obstructions can prevent Atlantic Salmon from accessing upstream spawning habitat, while simultaneously increasing competition for downstream spawning habitat. We propose the removal of natural obstructions along the Sheep Brook, Cold Brook, and Ahwachenjeech tributaries, which will restore natural riverine flow conditions and open approximately 4.5 km of benthic habitat. These restoration activities will increase Atlantic Salmon spawning habitat, allow the in-stream migration of Brook Trout, and will promote sustainable recreational fisheries in western Newfoundland.

The results of this project will be used to determine the short term effects of removing natural habitat obstructions on river health and population dynamics of Atlantic Salmon and Brook Trout. Periodic monitoring beyond 2015 will determine long term benefits of removing natural obstructions. This project aligns closely with conservation projects headed under Qalipu Mi’Kmaq First Nation Band’s Aboriginal Fisheries Strategy. Mi’kmaq Alsumk Mowimsikik Koqoey Association (MAMKA) has worked closely with Aboriginal Fisheries Guardians to protect our watersheds from illegal activities, while improving stewardship through river side clean ups and Atlantic Salmon redd, benthic habitat, and obstruction monitoring. This project also aligns closely with MAMKA’s Aboriginal Funding for Species at Risk projects, including monitoring the distribution and abundance of American Eel and Banded Killifish in Newfoundland.

Magnifying glass over a newspaper classified section with Job Market text

Internship Opportunity: Work with the Qalipu First Nation Natural Resource Team

Conservation Corps of Newfoundland and Labrador is a non-profit organization with a mandate to provide young people with meaningful work, training and educational opportunities in the areas of environmental and cultural heritage conservation and enhancement. Conservation Corps is now accepting applications for the following internship position.

Wetland Delineation and Aquatic Invasive Species Intern (1 position)
In partnership with the Mi’kmaq Alsumk Mowimsikik Koqoey Association (MAMKA). Under the supervision of the Natural Resources Technician, the Intern will be responsible for key logistics related to the planning and implementation of two major MAMKA projects: 1. Inventory and monitoring of wetlands in member communities of Qalipu First Nation and 2. Invasive green crab mitigation. Project 1 (Wetland inventory): Ecosystem services provided by wetlands are significant, however; wetlands are not well inventoried on the island of Newfoundland. Wetlands are a historic source of medicinal plants and animals, food, and travel ways for the Mi’kmaq people and continue to be to this day. To help our organization to identify potential sites for future wetland restoration and/or enhancement, we will inventory and monitor wetland locations within selected member communities of Qalipu First Nation. Project 2 (Green crab mitigation): Invasive green crab compete with native fauna and destroy significant habitat (eelgrass beds). MAMKA has studied the distribution and abundance of green crab in western NL over the past several years and completes focused removals yearly in the Bay St. George area as part of the mitigation effort.

Candidates for this position should have a demonstrated interest and or education in research and habitat conservation, restoration and enhancement; strong verbal and interpersonal communication skills; and strong research skills. This position requires the ability for physical exertion to traverse rugged terrain and work in coastal zones. Candidates must be willing to work in inclement weather and be capable of lifting up to 50 lbs. Valid driver’s license and access to own vehicle with appropriate insurance considered an asset. Position based in Corner Brook.

Salary for the above positions is $13.00 per hour for 35 hours per week for 12 weeks with an anticipated start date of August 21, 2017. CCNL is a youth serving not-for-profit, therefore successful individuals to the above positions must be between the ages of 16 and 30.

Please apply with cover letter, resume and three references. The same application can be used to apply for more than one Intern placement. Please indicate clearly in your cover letter which Intern placements you are applying (if applying via email please indicate position in email subject title). For more information on Conservation Corps Newfoundland and Labrador please visit www.ccnl.ca

Application Deadline is August 11, 2017
Applications should be forwarded to:
Selection Committee, Conservation Corps Newfoundland & Labrador
Suite 103, 10 Austin Street
St. John’s NL, A1B 4C2
Tel: (709) 729-7266
Fax: (709) 729-7270
Email: applications@ccnl.ca

Arctic Hare
Credit: Darroch Whitaker | Parks Canada

Citizen Scientists Wanted: Have you Seen an Arctic Hare?

Little is known about arctic hare populations in Newfoundland. In 2012, the Species Status Advisory assessed arctic hare and determined their analysis was “data deficient”. Since 2012, little has been accomplished to improve our understanding of arctic hare populations in Newfoundland. The Qalipu Natural Resources division is working to improve our understanding of arctic hare, and you can help!

If you spot an arctic hare while travelling through arctic-alpine or exposed barren areas, please complete our sighting report form to let us know about it. The information you provide is considered “citizen science data”. This important data is used to compliment long-term research and provides for additional surveillance of artic hare populations on the island of Newfoundland. You can find our sighting report form here.

Identifying Characteristics

The arctic hare is the largest of the North American hares weighing between 3.5 – 6.0 kilograms when fully grown. Their winter coat is pure white with the exception of black tips on their long ears. In our province, which is the southernmost limit of the hares’ North American distribution, the hares’ habitat is primarily barren within the vicinity of boulder fields.  Subsequently, their summer coat is typically bluish gray with white underparts.

Where you Might Spot an Arctic Hare

On the island of Newfoundland, the population is restricted to arctic-alpine areas of the Long Range Mountains, interior western plateaus or exposed coastal barrens including areas in Gros Morne National Park, the Long Range and Annieopsquotch Mountains, and the Buchans – Topsail plateau. Unfortunately there has been no island-wide distribution surveys since 1981, so the extent of the core population of the arctic hare outside the Long Range Mountains and Buchans – Topsail plateau remains largely unknown. (Hearn, 2012)

For more information on the arctic hare click here.


Qalipu Natural Resource Division to Host Engagement Sessions, Review Proposed changes to Fisheries and Navigation Protection Acts

Later this month the Qalipu First Nation Natural Resource Division (QNR) will host engagement sessions with members to request input on the federal government review of the changes to the Fisheries Act and the Navigation Protection Act.  The focus of the review is restoration of lost protections and the addition of modern safeguards to both Acts.  It is important that our First Nation community provide input regarding the best ways to safeguard our fish and fish habitat for future generations, as well as comment on the impact of legislation change on the long-term viability of commercial and recreational use of Canada’s waterways.

QNR is requesting that Band members come forward and participate in one of two upcoming regional engagement sessions to be held in Western and Central Newfoundland.  Feedback can be provided to us in-person at the sessions, or through written submissions to the email below.

Regional sessions will be held in the following locations:
Corner Brook (Western): January 24th at 6:00 pm in the Qalipu Community Room at 1 Church St.
Grand Falls-Windsor (Central): January 26th at 6:00 pm in the Qalipu Community Room at 28 Hardy Ave.  Light refreshments will be provided.

For background information on the Fisheries Act changes, please visit here. For background information on the Navigation Protection Act changes, please visit here.

For more information on the work of QNR and the upcoming engagement sessions please contact:

Andrea Coombs, Natural Resources Technician
Tel: 709-634-1500
E-mail: acoombs@qalipu.ca

Pictured here are researchers Mary Elsa Young and Madonna Louvelle at work in Qalipu’s Stephenville office along with interviewee Rodney Bennett. Rodney is one of many members of the Band who are contributing their knowledge of woodland caribou species. Rodney is also one of Qalipu’s River Guardians.

Two Weeks Left to Participate: Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge Research on Woodland Caribou in Newfoundland

The purpose of the Woodland Caribou Study according to Melissa Brake, Project Manager,  is to “formally collect and document Traditional Knowledge on the woodland caribou species including such topics as historical population trends, distribution and behavior in the Bay St. George area.”

Jonathan Strickland, Manager of the Qalipu Natural Resource Division added, “Sometimes researchers might overlook the value of our elders’ traditional knowledge and oral history.  As an indigenous organization we understand the value.  Through this project we hope not only to collect and preserve this valuable knowledge, but also build on it by following up with collecting scientific data in the field that supports what our elders have told us.”

If you haven’t scheduled your interview yet, please do so.  This project will end on November 25th.  Please contact Madonna or Mary Elsa at 649-0593.


Calling for Participants: Caribou Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge Study

Qalipu First Nation is conducting an Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge Study on Woodland Caribou in the Bay St. George area. We are looking to gather traditional knowledge regarding the species based on topics such as historical population trends, distribution and behavior. Please click the link below to view more information regarding the study and find out how you can participate.

For all the details, please click here to view the poster



Elver Abundance Study Summary Report 2014

Anguilla rostrata has two juvenile stages, the elver and the glass eel. The glass eels migrate northward from the Sargasso Sea every year to reside in the fresh groundwater systems or the estuarine/brackish areas and return after maturation for breeding. The time at which it takes for eels to mature is dependent on both size and environmental conditions. This project was deigned to track temporal variance in abundance to indicate start, finish, and peak migration times of elvers and glass eels in Harry’s River, NL.


Click here to read more about this report


Commercial Eel Harvest Monitoring 2014

Monitoring of the commercial eel harvest is an opportunistic practice that has been employed by Qalipu Mi’Kmaq First Nation Band for a number of years to collect, document or to track temporal variation/changes in the population dynamics of population information of the American eel (Anguilla rostrata). This includes individual weight, length, life stage ratio, and abnormalities such as red mouth and skin lesions. The American eel is a very culturally significant species for the Mi’kmaq people of Newfoundland. Along with being an important food source the American eel is also used for ceremonial and medicinal purposes. It is for these reasons that we are studying the local population in Muddy Hole, Western Newfoundland, and Little Horwood Brook, Central Newfoundland.

This project involves cooperating with local fish harvester’s in Western and Central Newfoundland and recording a number of biological characteristics of the eels captured by the harvester. Work was done through collaborating with local fish harvesters as to satisfy the community engagement portion of our Aboriginal Fisheries Strategy agreement. This opportunistic monitoring was beneficial to Qalipu, local harvesters and the eel population as additional nets were not set in the study areas. This reduced the amount of working hours required to complete the study, competition for catch with local harvesters, and stress on the eel population. Parks Canada employees also took part in monitoring at the western field site.

Click here to read more about this report