Through donations from members and supporters, the Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation currently owns and manages over 75,000 acres of wildlife habitat across the province.
Late last year, they announced the addition of 800 acres of prime wildlife habitat, as well as $ 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” in honor of Mr. Kowalski’s sister, is primarily native prairie habitat. The native prairie grasslands are internationally recognized as one of the most threatened ecosystems in the world and are home to many 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 and set up a memorial cairn on the land.
“So we were very grateful to receive this gift from the estate of Don Kowalski and this commemoration is something we are very excited about,” said Darren Newberry, Director of Habitat Lands for the Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation. “This is a very positive thing for the wildlife in this area. The land will be managed for the wildlife because it is a sanctuary for them. So it is a very good habitat for many different species of wildlife and will be very beneficial to the inhabitants of the region as well. “
Kowalski’s donation of land and money is one of the largest donations the SWF has ever received in the Habitat Trust program’s more than 40-year history.
There are signs set up along the 800 acre property advising visitors of the land restriction against all forms of hunting and if anyone catches someone hunting there they must notify the Department of Saskatchewan Environment by calling its line (TIPP) at 1-800- 667-7561 or by online report.
“This is only for foot traffic, we are just asking that if people go there to pick berries or take a walk, they just leave their vehicles at the door,” Newberry explained. “There is a very beautiful cairn which we have put in memory of Don Kowalski which you can visit if you wish.”
He added that the SWF’s plan is to continue to maintain wildlife in this area and that they hope to see habitat thrive at Dianne Wildlife Sanctuary.
“From a local perspective, we are delighted that Mr. Kowalski has decided to donate this land to the Habitat Trust program,” said Larry Olfert, President of the Weyburn Wildlife Federation. “Although this property cannot be hunted, it is an ideal location for all wildlife, from moose to grouse and pheasants, to songbirds such as the brown mockingbird and tree swallows as well as numerous other species. “
WWF has already started improving property for the various wildlife species by planting native trees to provide them with food and habitat to survive for many years to come.
Many trees are berry producers that many songbirds need to survive in all seasons.
They have also installed between 40 and 50 nesting boxes which they hope will attract blue birds. Tree swallows have already nested in many homes this year.
Olfert added that the terrain is great for hiking and said there are also a number of geocache sites on the property for visitors to explore.
For more information do not hesitate to contact the Weyburn Wildlife Federation.