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Scanned copy, if there are errors, please e-mail me with corrections:
Page - 2 - Mississauga News, Oct. 15/97 By JOHN STEWART Staff

The Jefferson salamander
Amphibians found in the bush rare and possible tree saver

A provincially-rare species of salamander has been detected living in the Cawthra bush and the discovery could influence future land use at the woodlot.

Dr. Jim Bogart, professor of zoology at the University of. Guelph, has confirmed, through genetic testing, the presence of the Jefferson salamander at the mature woodlot at Cawthra Rd. and the Queen Elizabeth Way.

The Jefferson is considered a provincially rare species. "It's normally just found along the Niagara Escarpment," said Dr. Bogart. "There are a very few at Long Point, some along the bottom portion of the Grand River Valley and in Dundas and Orangeville."

He will be applying to the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada to confirm the new find.

Don Barber, whose group sought the testing by the university said, "we're quite proud of ourselves. We are totally vindicated for all of our efforts." Barber formed his group to protest the removal of hundreds of trees from the bush several years ago, and BARBER has been in a running battle with the City ever since about its plans for the woodlot.

"I don't know if it was the Good Lord, Mother Nature or the ghost of Lady Cawthra that we had that little secret revealed to us," he says of the discovery.

Barber, who has announced his candidacy for mayor in the upcoming municipal election, hopes it will force the City to rethink its plans for the woodlot and eliminate any consideration of additional cutting of trees.

Barber presented news of the salamanders to the Urban Forest Management Advisory Committee (UFMAC) at City Hall last week and was disappointed that the group proceeded to adopt the future management plan for Cawthra bush as presented by staff. The plan will be the subject of a variety of future public meetings.

Barber says the fact that the salamanders can only survive in an old growth eco-system disproves staff arguments that Cawthra bush is already a disturbed area where additional cutting could be justified. He claims the City isn't giving the discovery of the salamanders the importance it deserves.

Peter Lyons, Mississauga's urban forest ecologist, told The News the City has been aware of a significant population of amphibians at the woodlot for many years. [1]  The discovery, if confirmed by federal authorities, could make a difference in the management plan for the bush, he said. "If they're given federal status, the woodlot may have to be fenced off," to meet protection regulations, he said. "That could be the bottom line if it's that rare and there are very few breeding populations."

The discovery of the presence of the Jefferson salamander, has led to the stopping of construction projects in some other areas of Ontario in the past, Dr. Bogart said.

The recommendation for the management plan is just. another step in an evolving process of deciding how the bush will be looked after in future, Lyons said. "There are still a lot, of questions to be answered."

There will be a significant level of additional work undertaken to monitor bird, animal and plant populations.

The question of whether additional cutting in the woodlot will be allowed is left open in the new plan. That decision will be based, in part, on analysis of how opening up the top' canopy of trees to install a major watermain through the woodlot has affected the area. Opening the canopy benefits growth of many shrubs and berry bushes which attract birds, but it may be detrimental to other species.

Both Lyons stressed the public should never attempt to handle the salamanders. Their environment can be easily disturbed and their sensitive skins can be dried out just by handling them.

PHOTO; the first is of a salamander walking from one of H.S. hands to the other.
CAPTION; This type of salamander found living in the woodlot of the former Cawthra-Elliott estates confirms that another species, the provincially rare Jefferson salamander, is also a resident of the bush.

PHOTO; of me in green coat.


BY; Staff photo by Fred Loek

It will make a difference!

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[1] - Ben Franklin is quoted as saying "well done is better then well said." or the opposite in this case. The comments noted here by Peter Lyons Mississauga's Urban Forest ecologist (?), are not true. The City has not been aware of a "significant population of amphibians", in fact it was just the opposite and the City has been claiming the lack of finding amphibians was a sign of how degraded Cawthra was. The City has been made aware of this untrue statement by the Friends of the Cawthra Bush and the City is happy to let the statement stand. After all is it not easier to just tell the public that City staff is doing its job, then to do it?  Even after this letter was published by the Mississauga news the City did nothing to set the record straight.

The decision to go public with the discovery of the salamanders was a hard one. On the one hand telling the public about these defenceless salamanders would lead to many being remove and killed by persons who think they are entitled to take what ever they can from public lands because they want to. [which by the way if unlawful] On the other hand if the public doesn't know all the reasons to save a community feature they are less likely to try and save the Cawthra Bush. Lastly I hoped the City would come to its senses and make the special efforts needed to save these amphibians.
The City couldn't care less about rare species (especially ones that prove the City was wrong in its reasoning about Cawthra), much less about public opinion. The idea of the City doing the right thing, is a waste of time. The City talks about leadership but they don't say in which direction they are leading us.  For sure it is not forward.  ]

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