• John Jantak

Biologist’s report recommends further environmental studies in Pincourt’s Rousseau


PHOTO BY JOHN JANTAK

A biologist’s report prepared on behalf of Pincourt residents Shelagh McNally and Carole Reed recommends additional environmental studies be conducted in spring and summer 2019 to properly assess the true scope of the wildlife within the woods and determine the presence of at-risk species.

A biologist’s study that was undertaken in Rousseau Forest in Pincourt this summer recommends that additional environmental assessments be conducted in spring and summer 2019 to gather more data regarding the wildlife and environmental significance of what is considered to be one of the last natural forested wetlands in the municipality.

The study was commissioned by Pincourt residents Shelagh McNally and Carole Reed, two conservationists from the environmental preservation group Sauvez Rousseau Forest. The study and subsequent report was conducted and prepared by Dr. Isabelle-Anne Bisson, the co-founder and sole proprietor of TerraHumana Solutions.

Bird field surveys

Its purpose was to undertake an ecosystem characterization of the forest’s biodiversity. Among the many aspects investigated, two avian field surveys were conducted on June 29 and August 24. A total of three non-migratory and five migratory bird species were discovered during the two outings.

The sighting of eight bird species during the summer did not represent the more abundant and diverse variety of migratory birds common in the spring that congregate in the area for mating and feeding, according to the report.

Springtime migratory activity

The report stated that migratory bird activity is at its highest during the spring which makes it easier to identify different species in their natural habitat. Fall is the least suitable season because most migratory birds have flown to their winter habitats. The report recommends two more studies be conducted from early spring into early summer in 2019 to properly assess the presence of additional bird species.

Bird watchers from Sauvez Rousseau Forest have catalogued more than 30 species of birds and agree they are more common and plentiful in the spring. The forest is also home to many species of amphibians and reptiles that are more abundant and active in the spring and early summer as well, including frogs, toads, salamanders, snakes and turtles, said McNally.

Western Chorus Frog

One of the more rare amphibians is the Western Chorus Frog, a species that is protected under the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA). The frog is difficult to spot because of its small size – no bigger than a toonie. A housing development in the South Shore municipality of La Prairie was reduced in scale by a federal judge after the frogs were discovered on the project site in July, 2016.

The study stated that because Bisson did not encounter the frog during her visits to the woods, she recommended additional surveys be conducted next spring during the frogs’ breeding period when they are easier to spot to confirm their presence.

Little Brown Bat

Three overnight surveys using a bat monitoring device were conducted by Bisson and Dr. François Fabianek, a bat specialist and head of the non-profit bat conservation organization Groupe Chiroptères du Québec to determine which species live in the woods.

After analysing the results from the monitoring device, they determined the Little Brown Bat is living in woods. Both Bisson and Fabianek recommended in their respective reports that further studies be conducted next summer to assess the habitat of the Little Brown Bat and Tri-Colored Bat, a species classified as endangered according to SARA.

City mandated study

The city is still awaiting its own biologist’s study which is expected to be delivered by the end of October. The study was commissioned as a sign of transparency to get their own results in addition to the studies that have been respectively submitted by McNally and Reed, and Developer Sylvain Ménard.

Residents opposed to the proposed residential development by Ménard at Rousseau Forest – officially known as Place Pierre Brunet – have attended every council meeting since May asking the city to save the woods. They also met with city officials in a private session, presented petitions and pleaded with council to the stop the proposed development.

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