Wainwright Wildlife Society
BY SHELDON FRISSELL
The Wainwright Wildlife Society (WWS) began in 1987 as volunteers from Wainwright and surrounding communities dedicated to helping folks understand the importance and value of wildlife and wild places. Our passionate members meet monthly to plan various activities. One of our big projects is assembling bird feeders, bluebird boxes, and kits to share with local Scouts groups, 4-H clubs, and school students. We educate local youth through school presentations on fossils, the geological history of the Battle River Valley, wildlife identification, and orienteering. WWS also organizes field trips to see tipi rings, Indigenous effigies, mud flats, the Parkland Dunes, a snake hibernaculum, a heron rookery, and the Battle River Valley. We take part in the Great Canadian Bird Count and owl surveys each winter. Our outreach also includes creating a yearly calendar promoting local wildlife and providing display tables at local craft shows.
We have hosted many educational guest speakers for the community, such as blue bird specialist Lois Johnson; Myrna Pearman, formerly with Ellis Bird Farm; WildNorth Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation; bird identification with Saskatchewan Breeding Bird Atlas; and the Backyard Bird Centre. This year’s March banquet featured a presentation by celebrated Saskatoon beaver photographer Mike Digout.
WWS is renowned for guiding school groups and photographers from all over the world to witness the amazing sharp-tailed grouse dancing each spring from the comfort of specially designed viewing blinds. We partnered with the Association for Life-Wide Living under the direction of Dr. Jane Ross to host three public Grouse Symposiums entitled “Project Bring Back the Grouse,” featuring information from grouse specialists and Indigenous leaders about the status of grouse in the Battle River watershed. Another joint venture was the production of sharp-tailed and ruffed grouse information cards distributed to drivers in the oilfield so they could become helpers in locating and reporting bird numbers in the Battle River area.
WWS maintains a 14-km nature trail system northeast of Wainwright in the Battle River Valley near the scenic Mistahiya Lodge. A local treasure, the public can enjoy hiking, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, mountain biking, birding, and wildlife photography, at no cost for use. The trail features a wildlife-viewing tower, labeled flora, a Little Free Library, and two maple grove picnic areas. One section climbs to a stunning panoramic lookout over the valley with plenty of wild flora and fauna to discover!
The Society was honored to be recognized with the Battle River Watershed Alliance 2021 Otis Award for our commitment and stewardship.
We welcome you to join our group or be our guest for a sharp-tailed grouse watch this spring. You can find us on Facebook (search Wainwright Wildlife Society) or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Let’s value wild things and visit wild places together!
Sheldon Frissell is President of the Wainwright Wildlife Society.
This article originally ran in Nature Alberta Magazine – Spring 2023.