Archive for the ‘Canada’ Tag

Thank you for submitting over 2900 comments in support of listing Canada’s rare wolves as a Threatened species! Learn more about why the wolves are unprotected in most of their range   Leave a comment

In June, when Ontario’s eastern wolves were renamed Algonquin wolves, their at-risk status deteriorated, changing from Special Concern to Threatened.

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As a Threatened species, they were automatically and immediately protected across Ontario.

3 months later, most of that protection was removed.

Overview

THE GOOD

Wolves and coyotes are now protected in 4 areas centred around provincial parks.  The largest of these areas is around Algonquin Provincial Park, the Algonquin wolf’s stronghold.

Killing has been banned there since 2001 and has been a conservation success.

 

THE BAD

Eastern coyotes and Algonquin wolves can’t be told apart without a genetic test.  To protect Algonquin wolves, coyotes must also be protected.  Instead of closing hunting and trapping of both species across the Algonquin wolf’s known range, Ontario announced that the new closures were being limited to 3 areas around parks where wolves have already been protected from hunting for years: Killarney Provincial Park, Queen Elizabeth II Wildlands and Kawartha Highlands Signature Site.

The government has attempted to disguise these changes as an improvement of wolf protection – between the 3 new areas, 40 townships will be off-limits to wolf and coyote killing.  40 townships sounds like a big area, but in reality they make up a very small part of the at-risk wolves’ provincial range.  The 3 new closure areas are far too small to recover the threatened population of Algonquin wolves.  Wolves require protected corridors between areas of prime habitat. Only 1 of the new closure areas is connected to Algonquin Park.  The other 2 are not islands of protection, but islands of extinction.

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When added to the map showing the known distribution of Algonquin wolves, it is clear how small and disconnected the 3 new closures areas are.

I am not protected

Compared to grey wolves, eastern coyotes or hybrids, Algonquin wolves have the lowest survival in unprotected areas. Wolves travel hundreds of kilometres in their lifetimes, and disperse from their birth pack to find a mate and open territory where they can raise their own families.

What Next?

In Ontario, a Recovery Strategy will be due for the Algonquin wolf 2 years from their listing date, on June 15th 2018.  The government has 9 months to develop a Response Statement that will outline actions that will be taken to protect and recover the species.  We will continue to ask for increased protection based on scientific research about the effects of  the 3 new closure areas on the population, and robust monitoring to determine exactly how many wolves are killed each year by hunters and trappers now exempt from the Endangered Species Act protection provisions.

At the federal level, consultation is still underway to list them as a Threatened species across Canada.  Thank you to those who submitted comments in support of this listing – together, we submitted over 2900 comments!

Under Canada’s Species At Risk Act (SARA), Threatened species require a Recovery Strategy that includes plans for all provinces where the species is found.  Algonquin wolves, or eastern wolves as they are known across Canada, live only in Ontario and Quebec.  However, the Quebec government does not have an active scientific committee assessing the status of species at risk and does not formally recognize the eastern wolf or have special regulations to protect it.  Federal listing of the wolves as Threatened will help kickstart this protection.

More Information

Regulation Changes

On July 22nd, the Ontario government proposed two plans that will hinder the recovery of this at-risk wolf population. On September 15th, After the shortest possible public consultation period brought in well over 15,000 comments, the provincial government announced that they are moving forward with their plans.  This announcement was made on the very same day that hunting and trapping seasons open across the majority of the threatened wolves’ range. Hunting and trapping are the known primary threats to the Algonquin wolf.

The 1st plan proposed was to limit new hunting and trapping bans, which are normally automatic for all threatened and endangered species in Ontario, to 3 small ‘island’-like closures around Queen Elizabeth II Wildlands and Killarney Provincial Parks and Kawartha Highlands Signature Site where hunting wolves has been banned for years.

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Disguising Regulation Amendments as Improved Wolf Protection

These closures are being peddled as imroved protection because most of the Algonquin wolf records (i.e. a single confirmed location for each Algonquin wolf) are included within these areas.  However, the reason more Algonquin wolves have not been found elsewhere is because their survival is dangerously low where hunting and trapping occur outside of these parks.

Moreover, a wolf is not a dot on a map. Wolves are capable of travelling hundreds of kilometres in their lifetimes, and almost always leave their birth packs to search for a new territory and a mate. Their inability to survive and reproduce in unprotected areas is the very reason why the wolves are rare enough to be deemed a Threatened species in the first place. It is appalling that this would be considered justification to continue ongoing killing where the wolves have been killed off before.

The 2nd proposal contained a regulation change that would make the 1st proposal legal – an exemption for all licensed hunters and trappers from being penalized for killing an Algonquin wolf anywhere outside of the 3 new islands or existing protection in and around Algonquin Provincial Park, the species’ stronghold.

How Ontario Justified the Regulation Changes

Ontario claims their decisions are justified due to confusion on the part of hunters and trappers targeting coyotes.  Indeed, without a genetic test, eastern coyotes and Algonquin wolves cannot be differentiated.  The government has not announced plans to track the number of Algonquin wolves killed; without a genetic test even those hunters and trappers who do comply with mandatory reporting requirements cannot accurately determine which species they have killed.  Hunters can kill up to 2 wolves annually if they purchase a game seal, the annual sales of which continue to increase since their inception in 2005. There is no limit on the number of wolves that can be trapped.

The Ontario government also cites concern from livestock farmers as a justifiable reason to allow more killing of Algonquin wolves.  However, allowing these animals to be killed does not prevent or solve livestock depredation – in fact, a growing body of research shows that hunting and trapping large carnivores can actually exacerbate the issue, increasing the number of livestock killed in future years.  These regulation changes fail both the Algonquin wolves and the farming community.

Public Concern Based on Wolf Research

Hunting and trapping were banned in the townships surrounding Algonquin Provincial Park beginning in 2001 due to overwhelming public concern for the park wolves being killed as they followed deer to winter yards outside of the park. Subsequent research funded by the Ontario government found that 80% of Algonquin wolves that left this protected area were killed in legally set strangling snares or shot by hunters before being able to establish new packs in unprotected areas.  Those wolves remaining inside the expanded protected area around the Park enjoyed several benefits – a stabilized population, a return to natural family-based pack structure and less need to hybridize with eastern coyotes.

This year, public concern has been ignored – the majority of the 17,301 comments submitted in response to the proposals asked for more stringent protection under the Endangered Species Act.

Ontario’s Wolves and Coyotes: All Essential

Scientists estimate that 65% of the world’s Algonquin wolf population inhabits Ontario, a mere 154 adult wolves.  These wolves are now patchily distributed amongst a population of eastern coyotes and their hybrids.

Eastern coyotes and Algonquin wolves are similar, but preliminary research results have begun to shine a light on how different their roles are within Ontario’s landscapes.  Eastern coyotes, Algonquin wolves, and grey wolves eat different kinds of prey and thrive in different habitats.  All three species are top predators, and all three play essential roles in our ecosystems. It is time we begin to value them for their inherent worth and the benefits they afford us, and stop trying (and failing) to eradicate, or ‘control’ them.  A commitment to recovering socially intact Algonquin wolf populations requires protection of eastern coyotes as well.

FACT: 1/3 of the threatened wolves that have been found outside of Algonquin Park’s protection will be open to hunting and trapping
FACT: Algonquin wolves are long-distance dispersers,  traveling 32km on average from their birth pack
FACT: 80% of young radio-tracked wolves that dispersed from Algonquin park were killed by trappers within 1 year

Source:  http://wolvesontario.org/algonquin-wolf/

Ontario makes controversial decision to allow rare wolf kill   5 comments

September 19, 2016 by Source

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Majority of 17,301 public comments opposed to hunting and trapping threatened Algonquin wolves


MONTREAL– Last week, as the hunting and trapping seasons opened, the Ontario government announced its decision to strip at-risk Algonquin wolves of protection from hunters and trappers across the majority of their range. Ongoing hunting and trapping, the primary threats to the species, caused the wolves’ at-risk status to deteriorate to Threatened on June 15th 2016. A mere 154 adult wolves are left in Ontario. Conservation and animal rights groups from across North America are condemning the decision.

Ontario claims their decision is justified due to the inability of hunters and trappers to differentiate between coyotes and Algonquin wolves. Without genetically testing each animal killed, the government cannot track how many Algonquin wolves are killed. There is no limit on the number of wolves that can be trapped and hunting bag limits are absent in some parts of the wolf’s habitat.

Hunting and trapping were banned in the townships surrounding Algonquin Provincial Park in 2001 due to overwhelming public concern for the park wolves. This year, public concern has been ignored – the majority of the 17,301 comments submitted in response to the proposals opposed the regulation changes.

“The Ontario government is peddling their decision as improved protection for the wolves because they have closed hunting and trapping in three additional areas bordering provincial parks,” said Hannah Barron, director of wildlife conservation, Earthroots. “However, these new closures are too small to protect Algonquin wolf packs, let alone individual animals capable of traveling hundreds of kilometres in their lifetime. Any wolf outside of these closures can be killed.”

“Allowing these rare wolves to be killed is not only inhumane and shameful, it can have unintended consequences for farmers and the animals in their care. A growing body of research shows that hunting and trapping can increase future livestock depredation by causing social chaos amongst wolf and coyote populations,” noted Gabriel Wildgen, campaign manager for Humane Society International/Canada.

“If the government was actually serious about protecting farmers’ livelihoods, they would subsidize non-lethal strategies to prevent depredation in the first place. This decision not only endangers a threatened wolf species, it also fails the farming community.” remarked Lesley Sampson, executive director of Coy ote Watch Canada.

“By allowing hunters and trappers to kill Algonquin wolves across the majority of their extent of occurrence, Ontario’s message to the American people and their own constituents is that species-at-risk recovery is not a priority,” stated Maggie Howell, director of the Wolf Conservation Center in New York. “This decision is in direct contravention to its ministry’s mandate.”

 

Banff National Park collars five wolves to track movements   Leave a comment

December 8, 2015

A collared wolf is caught on a remote camera making its way through deep snow in 2014.

A collared wolf is caught on a remote camera making its way through deep snow in 2014. PARKS CANADA / FOR THE CALGARY HERALD

Five wolves in Banff National Park have been captured and fitted with GPS collars to monitor their movements and get information for several research projects.

Between Nov. 25 and Dec. 1, a professional crew hired by Parks Canada used a helicopter to find wolves through their tracks in the snow. They then dropped a net on one or two of the larger animals in several different packs to fit them with the high-tech collars.

“We managed to radio collar five different wolves from three packs,” said Saundi Norris, a resource management officer for wildlife in Banff National Park.

They include an adult male from the Bow Valley pack, a five-member pack; a male and a female from the five-member Red Deer pack; and, a male and female from the seven-member Fairholme pack.

The Bow Valley wolf pack in winter 2012.AMAR ATHWAL / FOR THE CALGARY HERALD

Wolves have a top-down effect on the ecosystem in the park, with previous research showing that their numbers affect the survival, fertility and population growth of elk, deer, moose and caribou. It has a cascading effect on plants such as aspen and shrubs, which then affects birds and other mammals.

Norris, who noted they’ve been monitoring wolves since 2009, said the collaring process will provide additional data on how wolves are using Banff National Park.

“It overall helps us better understand predation habits and behaviours in wolves,” she said. “This time, in particular, there’s four main reasons for collaring these wolves and it encompasses a bunch of different research initiatives.”

They include how much time wolves are spending in caribou range; how wolves are using the Bow Valley Parkway during the annual spring closure; how they use wildlife corridors, which will help a researcher with his project; and, how they prey on mountain goats.

“We don’t know if that is a recent phenomenon or if their diet has shifted because of other declines in prey sources, which are typically elk,” said Norris, noting the data will help wildlife officials understand whether they are consistently preying on mountain goats.

She added that the research has many dimensions.

“It’s amazing what (we can do with) data from a few wolves and what types of research questions that can feed into,” she said.

Norris said it will also help wildlife experts to keep an eye on the Bow Valley pack, which has been spotted many times this year as it hunts for prey around the Banff townsite.

A wolf pack around the Banff townsite earlier this summer.

The Bow Valley wolf pack around the Banff townsite earlier this summer. AMAR ATHWAL /FOR THE CALGARY HERALD

“It will be amazing, actually,” she said, noting the wolves appear to have keyed into the fact that some of the elk population use town as a sanctuary and are now being opportunistic.

Although the Bow Valley pack has been hanging around the townsite, it uses the entire Bow Valley from the eastern park boundary near Canmore to Bow Summit.

The Fairholme pack, which also uses the Bow Valley, spends its time on the north side of the Trans-Canada Highway between Banff and Canmore, and around Lake Minnewanka.

Less is known about the Red Deer pack, other than it spends time in the Red Deer and Clearwater valleys.

It’s believed there are at least two other packs that use Banff National Park — one in the Cascade-Panther area and another in the Spray valley near Kananaskis.

cderworiz@calgaryherald.com

Twitter: cderwori

Source

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Documents indicate B.C. wolf cull linked to forest industry concerns   2 comments

October 25, 2015

Vancouver Source

Miley Cyrus and her brother Braison travelled to the Great Bear Rainforest on the central coast of British Columbia in late September, 2015, to join local wildlife conservationists from Pacific Wild on a research trip. The pop star is a vocal opponent of BC's wolf cull, which started last January and has drawn international condemnation from environmentalists. The B.C. government has defended it as necessary to save dwindling caribou populations, but briefing notes prepared for meetings between B.C. Environment Minister Mary Polak and industry representatives in 2014 suggest the government was prompted by the forest industry to launch the wolf cull because of fears a federal recovery plan for caribou would demand more logging areas be set aside. (April Bencze/Pacific Wild)

Miley Cyrus and her brother Braison travelled to the Great Bear Rainforest on the central coast of British Columbia in late September, 2015, to join local wildlife conservationists from Pacific Wild on a research trip. The pop star is a vocal opponent of BC’s wolf cull, which started last January and has drawn international condemnation from environmentalists. The B.C. government has defended it as necessary to save dwindling caribou populations, but briefing notes prepared for meetings between B.C. Environment Minister Mary Polak and industry representatives in 2014 suggest the government was prompted by the forest industry to launch the wolf cull because of fears a federal recovery plan for caribou would demand more logging areas be set aside. (April Bencze/Pacific Wild)

British Columbia’s government has been meeting with the forest industry to develop plans to save endangered caribou, and the province appears to have launched its controversial wolf cull program to avoid putting further restrictions on logging.

The wolf kill, which started last January, has drawn international condemnation from environmentalists, but the B.C. government has defended it as necessary to save dwindling caribou populations. Mountain caribou, which need old-growth forest to survive, are listed under the federal Species At Risk Act (SARA), and the province is required to take action to save them.

But briefing notes prepared for meetings between B.C. Environment Minister Mary Polak and industry representatives in 2014 suggest the government was prompted by the forest industry to launch the wolf cull because of fears a federal recovery plan for caribou would demand more logging areas be set aside.

“Tolko [Industries Ltd.] is concerned about potential impacts of the federal recovery strategy for the woodland caribou,” says one of the notes, released in response to a Freedom of Information application. Ottawa’s recovery strategy states that caribou need large tracts of “undisturbed habitat rich in mature to old-growth coniferous forest.” It is up to the province to decide how much forest land to set aside. Environmentalists have long complained that B.C. has not made enough old-growth forest off limits to logging.

At the time of Ms. Polak’s meetings, the B.C. government’s mountain caribou recovery implementation program, known as MCRIP, had already set aside some forest land, established a captive breeding program for caribou and limited recreational snowmobile access in caribou areas. But a proposed wolf cull had not yet been launched.

“Actions within the MCRIP have largely been implemented with the exception of effectively managing wolf populations. Industry has criticized government for failing to effectively implement this recovery action, and will be very reluctant to forgo additional harvesting opportunities to meet any additional habitat targets imposed by the federal recovery strategy,” states a briefing note from April, 2014.

B.C.’s wolf cull began several months later.

The briefing notes also show that the forest industry and government were interested “in aligning strategies with respect to dealing with the federal government” on the caribou issue.

One entry states that the province’s caribou plan “had been ‘tested’ with numerous high-level stakeholders, including the Council of Forest Industries,” which represents forestry companies in B.C., before it was posted for public comment.

Wilderness Committee director Gwen Barlee, who filed the FOI application that pried the documents loose, said she is alarmed by how closely the government and the forest industry appear to have been working.

“Are we having the B.C. government write recovery strategies for species at risk, or are we having logging companies writing recovery strategies for species at risk?” she asked.

“A recovery strategy is supposed to be a document created by science,” Ms. Barlee said. “Obviously, the recovery strategies are becoming polluted with the economic interests of logging companies … and that is not supposed to be the case.”

Sean Nixon, a lawyer with Ecojustice, also found the government briefing notes disturbing.

“This looks like the forest industry in B.C. is either directing the government’s policy on species at risk where that might affect timber harvesting, or at a minimum the provincial government is running the policy by the forest industry to make sure that it’s okay with them. Either is troubling,” he said.

If a provincial government does not “effectively protect” any endangered species listed under SARA, Ottawa can impose regulations on provincial land. Given B.C.’s approach so far, which seems more concerned about logging interests than the needs of caribou, the federal government may have to do just that.

Follow on Twitter: @markhumeglobe

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Tracking British Columbia’s secretive sea wolf   1 comment

October 1, 2015

Source

Two wolves run on the beach, exploring the tidal zone for meals.

Two wolves run on the beach, exploring the tidal zone for meals. (Photo: Paul Nicklen)

When we hear the word “wolf” nearly every one of us will think of wolves in a forest. Perhaps in our mind’s eye, we see a pack of wolves chasing down an elk or bison in Yellowstone, or monitoring a herd of caribou in Alaska, looking for the weakest link. But what we likely don’t think of is a wolf standing in an estuary stream catching salmon, or strolling along a beach poking through washed-up kelp for barnacles and other morsels to eat.

Yet that is exactly what happens among a very specific population of wolves living on the coastal islands of British Columbia. These wolves don’t hunt deer, in fact many may go their whole lives without ever seeing a deer. Instead, they rely on what the tide brings in. Fish roe, crustaceans, seals and washed-up whales are common meals for these wolves, which have been named sea wolves for their reliance on the ocean for food.

They are entirely unique and with behaviors that have scientists fascinated, but they are also heavily persecuted by humans. Between this and a future threatened by climate change, the outlook for these wolves is tenuous at best.

PHOTOS TO INSPIRE: 6 animals with strong family bonds

Photographers Paul Nicklen and Cristina Mittermeier recently went on assignment for National Geographic, spending weeks in the field crouched in a blind to photograph the intimate lives of these secretive wolves. We spoke with them about their experience, as well as what the average person can do to help preserve a highly unique and little-understood population.

Coastal rain wolves live on the outer Islands of the BC coast. Wolves on these Islands live on a very diverse selection of food including deer, chitons in the intertidal zone.

Coastal rain wolves live on the outer Islands of the BC coast. Wolves on these Islands live on a very diverse selection of food including deer, chitons in the intertidal zone. (Photo: Paul Nicklen)

MNN: You spent weeks on the ground, waiting for sightings of a pack of wolves. What was it like the very first time you laid eyes on them?

CM and PN: We arrived on a remote island off the coast of British Columbia where we knew a couple of wolves had been sighted. We used our zodiac (small raft) to circumnavigate the island — a journey that took about 1.5 hours, until we sighted paw prints on the sand. The trick for us was to predict the patterns, trails and times the wolves were patrolling certain beaches, and to try to be there before them.

The first time we saw them it was a total fluke. We landed the zodiac on a beach and as Paul and Oren went up a stream to check things out, I stayed with the zodiac and was utterly surprised when one of the wolves came trotting out of the bushes. A small, slender female, she was completely calm and she just kept trotting my way until she was just 30 feet away.

At the same time, Paul and Oren rounded the corner of the stream and came into the open beach. Now the wolf was in between us. Instead of panicking, she just sat on her haunches, did a long, lazy stretch and then just went back the same way she had come from.

It was a comedy of errors, in which the wolf played its part and we, as photographers, fumbled and made mistakes and ended up with only mediocre pictures of a perfectly lovely encounter.

You had the unique opportunity to watch wild wolf pups hang out with their family. What was it like to witness the family structure of the wolves?

What we found was a pack of five pups being watched by a single adult female, presumably their mother. When pups are young, the entire pack helps take care of them. All the members bring food to the mother, who has to stay with the young pups. On this occasion, the pack must have been out hunting and when night fell and we had to leave, they still had not returned.

The next morning, when we returned to the beach, the pups were gone, so presumably the pack returned and they all moved on to another den site.

A mother and pups on the beach is a rare sight for anyone, and these photographers put in their dues to be able to witness it.

A mother and pups on the beach is a rare sight for anyone, and these photographers put in their dues to be able to witness it. (Photo: Cristina Mittermeier)

You two spent weeks in a tiny blind, waiting for opportunities to photograph the wolves. What do you do to stay, you know, sane?

Working in the blind gave me a whole new level of respect and admiration for photographers who specialize in wildlife. We spent a total of 28 days working from this blind, and it was hard.

The first few days were fun and busy as we selected the site and slowly and carefully set out to build the blind. One has to work slowly and early in the morning as not to disturb things. We laid a tarp on the ground to keep ourselves dry.

Unfortunately, the material crinkled and made noise every time we moved, so we had to remain really still. This meant stiff muscles and boredom. To pass the time we rnd a lot of time together. It teaches you a lot about a partner, when you have to be jammed in a small space and unable to move or talk for long periods of time. I have to say I enjoy Paul’s company very much.

Three wolf pups play with a piece of kelp.

Three wolf pups play with a piece of kelp. (Photo: Cristina Mittermeier)

Why these wolves? What sets them apart so much from other wolves as an extra concern for conservation?

The wolves of British Columbia are very different from any other wolves we have ever encountered. Unlike the gray wolves of the BC interior or the much larger timber wolves, rain wolves or sea wolves as they are known are small and dainty.

Unlike any other wolves, these ones don’t mind swimming between islands, sometimes for long distances but what truly sets them apart is the fact that over 70 percent of their diet is marine. They patrol the beach during low tide and eat mussels, clams and other marine life.

They are also very adept at hunting for salmon as the fish make their way up forest streams. Most impressively, they are able to hunt seals and sea lions.

These wolves are specialists in the meals that are available along a coastline.

These wolves are specialists in the meals that are available along a coastline. (Photo: Paul Nicklen)

Which is the most pressing concern to the future of these coastal island wolves?

Very little is known about them and preliminary DNA studies by scientist Chris Darimont from the University of Victoria indicate they might be a distinct race or even a subspecies.

For us, the real driver, however, is the fact that these fascinating animals are not protected by provincial or federal laws and people are not only allowed, but encouraged to kill them.

They are so curious and their habit of patrolling the beach exposes them to the danger of shooters who can spot them from boats.

The coastal island wolves are used to getting their feet wet for a meal.

The coastal island wolves are used to getting their feet wet for a meal. (Photo: Paul Nicklen)

What can the average reader do right this minute to help protect coastal wolves?

One of our partner organizations, Pacific Wild, a small NGO based in the heart of the Great Bear Rainforest, is doing a lot of work to make authorities more aware of the ecological and indeed, the cultural importance of these animals.

The recent approval of a plan to slaughter 400 wolves in central BC makes it even more imperative to encourage the drafting of some laws that offer some protection.

Pacific Wild has gathered almost 200,000 signatures in a petition to the Premier of BC, Christy Clark to protect rain wolves. Supporting such a petition, opposing the wanton slaughter of wildlife, and educating themselves about the impacts of recreational hunting of apex predators is the best things people can do.

***

Find out more about Nicklen and Mittermeier’s conservation work at SeaLegacy, a nonprofit working to document the planet’s fragile marine ecosystems and inspire advocacy for their protection.

By: Jaymi Heimbuch

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Wolves for Days   Leave a comment

October 11, 2015 Source

Wolves are a common feature of Ahousaht life, and I am so lucky to encounter them regularly along our shoreline. They are a special creature to meet and I feel blessed every time I encounter one. This year there was a litter of 4 pups born to one of the females in the pack. While they have not been seen in the village, they were seen on the mudflats of Sunshine Bay in the early mornings. Perhaps next year I will see some pups.

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Two wolves killed in Victoria Beach   2 comments

October 2015 Source

WINNIPEG — A pair of wolves have been destroyed in the Victoria Beach area after killing at least three dogs.

An official with Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship said they were unable to relocate the wolves because they likely would either have been driven out or killed by other wolves in the new location.

The wolves were killed by a professional trapper that was hired by the province last month.

Wolves have become increasingly territorial in the Victoria Beach area and pet owners have been warned to keep their dogs and cats indoors.

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