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Vincent van Zalinge on Unsplash.

On Trent Land: Wildin'

Written by
Francene Francis
February 4, 2021
On Trent Land: Wildin'
Vincent van Zalinge on Unsplash.

Trent University currently has 11 nature areas, each home to a diverse array of habitats, plants and animals. What changes does the Trent Lands and Nature Areas Plan (TLNAP) have in-store for our ‘protected’ nature areas? As discussed in my previous article, they plan to relocate the Trent Experimental Farm, Vegetable and Market Gardens, and the Apiary onto the Wildlife Sanctuary Nature Area. The plan is to construct Cleantech Commons and a ‘Complete Community’ on the Wetland Complex and Otonabee Wetland Nature Areas, and construct an Indigenous Culture Area on the Lady Eaton Drumlin. These changes will occur on four of Trent’s 11 nature areas, likely reducing the biodiversity of these areas and how these changes may affect feeding relationships in affected ecosystems.

According to the iNaturalist Trent Bioblitz page and the Trent Species At Risk Screening Assessment, there are no threatened mammal populations on or around the Trent campus. We can share a collective sigh of relief knowing that present mammals are likely to bounce back relatively quickly after any disturbance that development may cause. In light that there are no threatened mammal communities within the vicinity of Trent, I would like to paint a picture of how the feeding habits of two top species may be affected by habitat destruction and fragmentation of the Trent area. All food chains being constructed, while possible in the wild, are hypotheticals based on animal diets and possible habitat destruction/ degradation after developments proposed by the Plan. All involved organisms can be found on the iNaturalist Trent Bioblitz page.

A bald eagle is returning from its winter migration to its nest in a white ash tree. A building is now there and she’s devastated. She just lost her home. She decides to go to her favorite hunting spot for some rabbit to eat away her pain, maybe she’ll find a nice carcass to feed on. She prefers fish, but the river is too far and she wants a quick meal to satisfy her soul. She soars for a bit, expending energy until she’s famished. She finally arrives at her favorite spot and there’s another building, confused she soars around because surely there has to be food somewhere else right? But all she sees are buildings and patches of trees in what used to be an expanse of forest. Dejected, she swoops low, captures a few squirrels then tries to find a new tree where she can rest for the night.

 A red fox is on the prowl. For months he’s been hearing strange loud sounds and his hunting territory has been restricted with cords. Finally, he can go back to his usual hunting spots, where the red elderberries are juicy, the apples are falling off the tree, and the mice are plentiful. But there’s a problem, there is now a four-lane road that lies between him and his hunting grounds. He’s hungry, so he makes the intrepid journey across the road and avoids becoming roadkill by the tip of his tail. He fears his journey home, but that’s a future problem, for now, he’s just hungry. He trots through the forest but it’s different, there are fewer trees and animals. He has to go further to hunt and it’s harder for him to find fruiting trees  to feast on. He eventually gets his fill and scavenges for some extra food to hide under the leaf-fall from a black ash tree. Another strange occurrence, he can’t seem to find the black ash stand, just a building complex. It’s early fall and not many trees have yet shed their leaves, except for that black ash stand. That’s fine, he’ll just dig a hole to hide his extra food and hope no one discovers his spot. He completes his daily tasks and begins his journey back to his den, hoping he can safely cross the road, dreading the journey.

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