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Pheasants Forever trying to ‘Save The Edges’

A ring-necked pheasant. Photo courtesy of Pheasants Forever Calgary on Facebook.

SPONSORED CONTENT: No organization does more to improve pheasant habitat than Pheasants Forever.

The not-for-profit conservation organization heads numerous projects to maintain, enhance and grow habitat for not only pheasants but quail and other wildlife in southern Alberta.

Projects include restoring wetlands, planting shrubbery, building feeding stations for wildlife and installing manmade protection for areas of focus.

“There are a number of tools as a conservation organization we use,” explains Perry McCormick, managing director for Pheasants Forever Calgary.  “We’ll lease property that is good habitat for birds, or outright purchase properties and hold them for perpetuity for society and wildlife to enjoy.”

Pheasants Forever’s major project on the go is called Save The Edges.

The organization says roadside ditches and undeveloped county right-of-ways provide sanctuary for a broad array of insects, birds, reptiles and mammals. An agricultural practice known as “trespass farming” is threatening these last vestiges of intact wildlife habitat.

“Ditches and right-of-ways have been broken and farmed at an elevated rate in recent years. It’s not uncommon to see ditches farmed to within inches of the road grade. Further, corporate farming has led to larger fields, and many right-of-ways that at one time supported critical edge habitat on each side of the trail have disappeared. When undisturbed, these strips of land provide a wide range of benefits to all Albertans,” Pheasants Forever said on their website. 

Naturally vegetated public roadside ditches and right-of-ways:

Filter excess nutrients including phosphorous and nitrogen, preventing them from entering our rivers, lakes and groundwater systems.
Minimize overland flooding by storing, slowing and absorbing excess water, helping to protect roads, culverts and agricultural fields. 
Store thousands of tons of carbon, preventing it from entering the atmosphere. 
Provide homes for pollinators like bees, butterflies, moths and beetles. 
Sustain species that prey on agricultural pests. 
Provide thousands of acres of habitat for grassland-dependent mammals and birds, including pheasants and grey partridge. 

While advocating for the elimination of trespass cultivation, the organization acknowledges that vegetation management of roadside ditches is necessary. Periodic grazing or haying of roadside ditches is important for vegetation management and in times of extreme drought. When this management is necessary, they suggest producers wait until after July 15 to ensure birds have finished nesting.

The organization is meeting individual municipalities in southern Alberta and running radio ads, print campaigns and tours to bring their cause to light. 

Pheasants Forever Calgary is currently over 600 members strong and is always looking for new, like-minded individuals and groups to aid their cause. Check out more information on how to become a member or donate here.