Open to public:
What makes the Cation Wildlife Preserve special?
The Cation property is a wildlife hot spot. Bird enthusiasts have spotted several rare species on the property such as Golden-winged Warblers and Bald Eagles. Upland Sandpipers and Thrashers have also been seen here.
Closer to the wetland in the middle of the property there are tons of Leopard and Green frogs hopping along and across the trails. Belted Kingfishers, Hooded Mergansers and Painted Turtles are regular inhabitants of this swampy area.
The staghorn sumac, wild red raspberry and blackberry bushes found throughout the property are an excellent food source to many species, especially mammals. There are signs that White-tailed deer, coyotes, black bears and even moose have visited the property. This shows that the preserve occupies a popular natural corridor that provides a safe haven for wildlife to roam and connect to the adjacent landscape.
Seeing this growing and thriving area, it’s hard to believe how much damage people have done to the property over more than a century of hard use. In the 1800s this property was heavily logged, wiping out old hardwoods and conifers which reduced the forests and opened up the landscape. The open fields were then used as a range, with cattle grazing here for many years.
Another round of logging occurred less than 30 years ago which wiped out the larger trees and significantly reduced the property’s biodiversity.
The land was eventually sold to a recreational hunter who used the area to train dogs to hunt coyotes. The property was completely surrounded with an electrical fence in to keep the dogs in and the coyotes and other large wildlife out. The fencing prevented several species from using the natural corridor and accessing the protected natural spaces in the area. As a result the species composition was altered, which in turn changed the environment and ecosystems on the property.
After several years of this use, the land was left vacant and the landscape began to heal. Grasses and shrubby plants began to grow, muddy open areas where the dogs once ran became covered with native vegetation. The fencing deteriorated which allowed large wildlife to once again use the property as a natural corridor.
The forest is now in an early successional state, made up of species such as poplars, birches, juvenile maples and ironwood trees. It will be exciting to see the changes to this beautiful piece of land in the future.
The old dog kennels, including gates and locks, the wire fencing, and old rain barrels on the property are being re-purposed by the Kawartha Wildlife Centre. Volunteers spent two days this summer taking everything apart so it can be re-made into wildlife enclosures and raccoon beds. There is so much wire fencing that other wildlife organizations, including Speaking of Wildlife, will also be able to use the old fence to construct new enclosures and other projects.
With the landscape regenerating and the materials once used for harm now being used to help heal and rehabilitate wildlife, it feels as though the property has come full circle. This land now serves as a beautiful example of how resilient nature can be and how fast it recovers when left untouched.