Old Mill in Scone, a Centre of Controversy
be small, as size goes in the world of wildlife but it is, nonetheless,
a vital link to life and is in danger of becoming extinct.
It is the Hungerford's Crawling Water Beetle (Brychius hungerfordi).
Why is it important to Grey Bruce counties? It is known to be found in
only seven places in the world and one of them is Scone in Bruce County!
Imagine! Nowhere else in this country is it found and it is found in
only seven locations around the globe. Is this little creature
important? In the grand scheme of things, it is a connection to life.
Hungerford's Crawling Water Beetle
To understand, we first have
to take a look at the Hungerford's crawling water beetle. Firstly, it is
very small at only 0.2 or 4.2 mm and is a distinctive, yellow-brown
beetle with irregular dark markings and, males tend to be smaller than
Although streams surrounding the Great Lakes, especially in Michigan,
Wisconsin, Minnesota and Ontario, have been extensively surveyed during
the past 30 years, no additional populations of the beetle have been
discovered ... and the only known population in Canada is in Scone at
one specific site.
The Hungerford's crawling water beetle was listed as endangered on March
7, 1994 and is protected in the United Station, which includes prohibits
take of the beetle. Unfortunately, it is not protected in Canada and is
not included in the recovery goals for the species initiated by the
United States. The largest population occurs in the East Branch of the
Maple River in a pristine portion of stream on the boundary of the
University of Michigan Biological Station. The University actually
built the Station around the habitat of the beetle in order to preserve
Threats to the beetle are not well understood but, in general, it can be
assumed that threats include activites that modify or disrupt the pool
and riffle environments of streams where it lives. Recovery efforts
would benefit from a research program that targets the beetle and its
habitat. Efforts will include reducing to a possible extent theatrs
that result in habitat destuction and degradation such as stream-side
logging and pollution and threats relating to fish management activites
and human recreation.
Professor R.E. Roughley of the University of Manitoba, in 1991,
described the North Saugeen River habitat as being very different than
the usual type locality. The Scone site is downstream from an
impoundment dam with an epilomnion outlet. Warm water from the
impoundment passes through an old millrace and under a county road.
Prior to discovery of the beetle at this site, the stream had been
dredged and disturbed by bridge construction. The habitat is
characterized by heavy deposits of a marl-like substance on stones and
rocks. Beetles were collected from gravel and algae along a narrow zone
parallel to the stream.
According to wildlife preservation initiatives, site conservation plans
should be updated as new information becomes available and, then,
actions that are needed are:
1. Conserve known sites
2. Conduct scientific research to facilitate recovery efforts
3. Conduct additional surveys and monitor existing sites
4. Develop and implement public education and outreach
5. Revise Recovery Criteria and recovery actions, as appropriate, based
on research and
6. Develop a plan to monitor B. Hungerfordi after it is delisted
One of the keys of the American study is to "coordinate with Canadian
officials regarding the North Saugeen River site. Members of the
Ontario government will be contacted and encouraged to monitor and
conserve the known B. Hungerfordi site near Scone. Although this site is
not included in the recovery goals of this Recovery Plan, it is still
important for conservation of the species."
The United States Fish and Wildlife had placed it on their Endangered
Species List in 1994 and just released a Recovery Plan in September of
2006, allocating up to $742,000 for its recovery. The recovery Plan
also states that Canadian Officials should be communicated with to
coordinate monitoring and recovery at the Scone Site.
Conserve riparian buffers:
Riparian areas are the vegetated areas adjacent to the stream. Riparian
buffers are important for water quality, and act as natural
“bio-filters”, protecting aquatic environments from excessive
sedimentation, polluted surface runoff, and erosion. They can provide
shade that reduces water temperature and also help stabilize stream
banks. Existing native vegetation should be retained to the extent
possible, and efforts should be undertaken to restore the natural plant
community composition and distribution when possible.
Conduct in-stream projects such as bank stabilization projects as
In addition to poorly designed or failing road/stream
crossings, other activities also result in increased edimentation in
streams (e.g., logging, removal of riparian buffers, beaver dams). In
some cases, it may be prudent to stabilize stream banks to reduce
sedimentation (after identifying and reversing the cause of excessive
erosion when possible). BMPs should be applied during in-stream
restoration activities. Potential projects in the vicinity of occupied
habitat must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis to evaluate the
potential risks and benefits to B.Hungerfordi.
Conduct other stream and watershed restoration activities that result in
benefits to occupied watersheds, as appropriate. Other activities may
include programs for general watershed health. These may include
preventing polluted runoff from pesticides, fertilizers, or animal waste
and preventing the introduction of invasive exotic species. In the
watersheds where B. Hungerfordi is known to occur, these projects can
have benefits through increased water quality and reduction of threats.
Investigate the potential for transportation of hazardous materials
(e.g., oil and other chemicals) on roads within occupied watersheds and
potential for spills. Coordination with the appropriate highway and
county road departments should occur to determine the potential for
transportation of hazardous materials on roads within occupied
watersheds and the potential for a spill of gasoline, solvents, or other
chemicals. If there is a significant risk, the possibility of
restrictions on transport of dangerous goods in high priority areas
should be evaluated.
Second Oldest Hydro Plant in Ontario
By now readers may be wondering why or how the Saugeen
Times became involved in this issue. One day, stopping by the Old Mill
in Scone on the North Saugeen River, we learned of this situation from
Professor Emeritus, David Dansereau, who owns the mill. "According to
the Natural Heritage Information Centre website this beetle has a global
rarity rating of G1 (highest rarity rating), N1 (highest Canadian
National Rating) and S1 (highest rarity rating for the Province of
Ontario). The mill houses a hydro-electric plant that is the second
oldest in Ontario and which, in fact, produces hydro for sale to Hydro
Professor Emeritus David Dansereau
Apparently, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (OMNR)
has known of the beetle's habitat since 1986 when it was discovered by
Dr. Roughley but, it was only through a release, that Dansereau was able
to determine that OMNR had known of the beetle's habitat on his property
under the bridge immediately below the dam.
In the summer of 2005, OMNR was called by angry campers behind the dam
and downstream, complaining about low water levels. Under the 'Occupied
Water Privileges' inherent in Dansereau's deed, the privileges are
protected within the Lakes and Rivers Improvement Act so that repairs
made to the dam were within his rights.
According to Dansereau, OMNR was attempting to keep secret the beetle's
presence. "They (OMNR) wanted me to sign a Water Management Plan which
would make me responsible financially for the beetle's survival and
costly repairs to the dam, because past research has shown that the
beetle requires the presence of a beaver or human-made dam in order to
survive. It appears that OMNR was not going to inform me about the
beetle until it made it to the Species At Risk in Ontario (SARO) list.
In other words, OMNR was deliberately trying to pass on financial
responsibility for the Hungerford's Beetle to a private landowner."
It would appear that OMNR has been negligent in the conservation and
recovery of one of the rarest species. The Stewardship Fund (SAR)
appears to have been changed in a deliberate attempt to preclude the
possibility of Dansereau's application succeeding, which in turn, means
that the responsibility for this beetle's habitat still remains with the
In the meantime, Dansereau has witnessed destruction of the beetle's
habitat. "I have witnessed ATV riders running right over the beetles'
habitat and, what's more, the OMNR has allowed Arran Elderslie
Municipality to cut down, at the very least, 50 trees along the
shoreline within 100 feet of the beetles' habitat, even after I brought
it to their attention in November last year (2007).
Dansereau insists that the OMNR continues to block his attempts to
obtain funding for the sale or repair of the dam which is required for
the beetle's survival ... to be cont'd