Thanks to the donations from members and supporters the Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation currently owns and manages more than 75,000 acres of wildlife habitat across the province.
Just at the end of last year, they announced the addition of 800 acres of prime wildlife habitat, along with $100,000 in cash to their Habitat Trust Program, which was donated by the late Don Kowalski of Griffin, Saskatchewan.
The land near Griffin, named “Dianne’s Wildlife Sanctuary” after Mr. Kowalski’s sister, is primarily native prairie habitat. Native prairie grasslands are internationally recognized as one of the most at-risk ecosystems in the world and home to numerous species at risk.
The land was commemorated as a wildlife sanctuary last week by members of the Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation and they were joined by some of the Weyburn branch members as well as they installed a memorial cairn on the land.
"So we were very thankful to receive this donation from the estate of Don Kowalski and this commemoration is something we're very excited about," shared Darren Newberry, Director of Habitat Lands for the Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation. "This is a very positive thing for the wildlife in that area. The land will be managed for the wildlife as it's a sanctuary for them. So it's a very good habitat for many different species of wildlife and will be very beneficial to the people in the area too."
The donation of land and cash from Kowalski is one of the largest donations that the SWF has ever received during the Habitat Trust Program's over 40-year history.
There are signs set up along the 800-acre property that informs visitors of the land's restriction against all forms of hunting and if anyone catches someone hunting there they should notify the Saskatchewan Ministry of Environment by calling their (TIPP) line at 1-800-667-7561 or by reporting online.
"This is for on foot traffic only so we just ask that if people go on it to pick berries or go for a walk that they just leave their vehicle at the gate," Newberry explained. "There is a very nice cairn that we put out in memory of Don Kowalski that you can go in and have a look at if you'd like."
He added that the SWF's plan is to continue to maintain the wildlife in that area and they are hoping to see the habitat thrive in Dianne’s Wildlife Sanctuary.
"From a local perspective we are pleased that Mr. Kowalski decided to donate this land to the Habitat Trust Program," stated Larry Olfert, President of the Weyburn Wildlife Federation. "Although this property is not hunt-able it is a great place for all wildlife from moose to grouse, and pheasants, right down to the songbirds such as the Brown Thrasher and Tree Swallows as well as many other species."
The WWF has already begun to enhance the property for the different wildlife species by planting native trees to provide food and habitat for them to survive for many years to come.
Many of the trees are berry producers which many of the songbirds need to survive in all seasons.
They also installed between 40 and 50 birdhouses that they hope will attract Bluebirds. Tree Swallows have already nested in many of the houses this year.
Olfert added that the land is great for hiking and stated that there are also a number of Geocache sites on the property for visitors to explore.
For more information feel free to reach out to the Weyburn Wildlife Federation.