Our desire to have a cottage is often coloured by our desire to leave the city behind, and enjoy a simpler lifestyle amidst a natural environment full of plants and wildlife. Unfortunately, some of us have difficulty in leaving urban life behind, and transport many of its trappings with us.
As more and more people seek an idyllic life at the cottage, it’s almost impossible to avoid impact on the environment, but we can each do our best to make informed choices helping to reduce our human footprint. Let’s first remember the reason most of us chose this lifestyle in the first place.
We need to strongly consider that less is more at the lake, both in terms of our personal enjoyment and in finding a reasonable balance with nature.
Cottagers who recognize their extreme good fortune as waterfront property owners also know that it carries the responsibility to be a good steward of that land. It is about each of us doing our part to take care by protecting wildlife, forests, soil, and water. Making this kind of commitment to our surroundings helps preserve it for today and tomorrow.
Aquatic Plants & Insects
Aquatic plants provide food and habitat for fish, aquatic insects and terrestrial wildlife, and help prevent turbidity by stabilizing lake sediments. They protect shorelines from erosion by absorbing wave action and act as a critical filter of runoff from the land.
The abundance and diversity of aquatic insects indicate the health of the aquatic environment. They are essential in the food chain in water and on land as they are an important food source for other insects, bats, birds, invertebrates and fish.
As with all things in nature, too many aquatic plants cause:
- A nuisance for swimming
- Water flow to be impeded and flooding as a result
- Less appealing drinking water
- Less dissolved oxygen for fish
- Boating difficulties
The Lake of the Woods region is a world class fishery offering an excellent variety of fresh water fish and many areas in which to catch them. Anglers can experience fishing for Muskie, Northern Pike, Yellow Perch, Crappie, Smallmouth Bass, Largemouth Bass, Walleye and Lake Trout in some of the most untouched, beautiful surroundings found anywhere today.
Young and old can enjoy the pleasure of fishing in whatever form they choose, sport fishing or conservation fishing. For conservation reasons, fishing laws limit the number of fish an angler may catch or possess. The number depends on the type of licence the angler holds, the fish species, where the fish is caught and, in some cases, the size of the fish.
The Sport Fishing Licence Tag is for anglers who wish to have full catch and possession fishing privileges. For limits and regulations in Zone 5, please see the realted links to the right.
If you prefer catch and release practices, consider the Conservation Fishing Licence Tag. With a Conservation Fishing Licence Tag accompanying the Outdoors Card, the angler observes a catch and possession limit that is lower (in most cases) than that of sport fishing licence tag holder.
Invading species are one of the greatest threats to the biodiversity of Ontario’s waters, wetlands and woodlands. Originating from other regions of the world, and in the absence of their natural predators or controls, invading species can have devastating effects on native species, habitats and ecosystems.
Invading species extremely adaptable and have high reproduction rates enabling them to spread. Unchecked, these invaders will outcompete native fish and wildlife and unbalance natural ecosystems. The Rusty Crayfish and Spiny Water Flea are now found in Lake of the Woods and it’s become hard to find our natural Green Grey Crayfish as their population has already been negatively impacted by the competition.
To identify the Rusty Crayfish, look for the rusty ‘fingerprints’ on either side of their body.
Invading species are introduced to Ontario waters through a variety of pathways such as ballast water from foreign shipping, aquarium & horticultural trades, live food fish trades, unauthorized fish introduction’s and/or transfers. These species are being further spread into our inland lakes through recreational activities such as boating, angling, and through the release of live bait.
Invasive Species are a threat to the natural bio-diversity of aquatic ecosystems and to species at risk. The reasons for their ability to alter a system are:
- They have no natural predators.
- They are highly adaptable
- They reproduce quickly
- They thrive in disturbed systems
- They out compete native species for food and habitat
In 1992 the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters, in partnership with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, established The Invading Species Awareness Program. Their objectives are to:
- Raise public awareness of invasive species and encourage their participation in preventing their spread.
- Monitor and track the spread of invading species in Ontario waters through citizen reports to the Invading Species Hotline and the Invading Species Awareness Program
- Conduct research on the impacts and control of invasive species
Invasive Plants in Northwestern Ontario
Purple loosestrife originated in Europe and was accidentally introduced into North America in the early 1800s as a contaminant in ship ballast and as a medicinal herb and garden plant. It has taken many years for this weed to impact our area, but it is now present in many regions. Also known as the beautiful killer, marsh monster and exotic invader, purple loosestrife establishes itself in a variety of urban and rural wetland habitats.
Purple Loosestrife greatly reduces biodiversity in the wetland, dominate and eliminate many valuable plant species. The displacement of native vegetation by purple loosestrife reduces the value of wetlands and has far reaching ecological implications, many of which are still unknown.
Found in many aquatic areas in southern Manitoba and Northwestern Ontario, Flowering Rush is a perennial with grass-like leaves similar to bulrushes. Along with Purple Loosestrife, it is regarded as one of five invasive alien plants having a major ecological impact on natural ecosystems in Canada and considered a high priority species for eradication in parts of Ontario.
Flowering rush invades aquatic and wetland areas including streams, rivers, lakes, stormwater retention ponds, marshes and gravel pits as well as road side ditches. It can displace native vegetation reducing the overall biological diversity of an ecosystem by restricting light and nutrients to other submerged plants.
People & Wildlife
Wildlife is an added bonus to the beauty and serenity of our waterfront experience, but it is no surprise that while we share the same territory, at times that experience can be a little too close for comfort. Remember: while fun to watch, our natural visitors are not our pets.
It is important to maintain the health of the environment to ensure that wildlife don’t become a problem. Keeping natural habitats intact minimizes the need for wildlife to seek food or residence from their human neighbours.
Although people who feed wildlife generally do so with the best of intentions, the consequences are most always negative – for both the animals and their feeders.
Impacts of feeding wildlife:
- Animals may lose their natural fear of humans and associate people with food, inviting unwanted visits and potential conflict
- Parasites and disease will spread more rapidly through unnatural congregation around a feeder
- Animals can become dependent on unnatural food sources, making them less able to survive in the wild
- Feeding wildlife may bring unwanted animals to your property—bears enjoy deer food as well!
- Artificial feed is unhealthy for wildlife