Wildlife Preservation Canada

Wildlife Preservation Canada

April 24, 2008 09:17 ET

Endangered Birds Head to Breeding Grounds, Thanks to Private Sector

Eastern Loggerhead Shrike Recovery Program Saved by French Rabbit

Attention: Environment Editor, Lifestyle Editor, News Editor, Science Editor, Government/Political Affairs Editor GUELPH/ONTARIO/MEDIA RELEASE--(Marketwire - April 24, 2008) - Most migratory birds rely on their wings to head north in the spring, but this week biologists will be driving 24 pairs of captive-bred Eastern Loggerhead Shrikes to their breeding grounds on the Bruce Peninsula and the Carden Alvar (east of Orillia). It's part of a program to rescue the Ontario songbird from the brink of extinction - a program that almost didn't happen this year because of government funding cuts.

Since 2001, Wildlife Preservation Canada (WPC) has worked under a conservation agreement with Environment Canada to raise Eastern Loggerhead Shrikes in captivity and then release them to boost the wild population.

Although the program has been extremely successful, releasing more than 300 birds since it was launched, the lack of federal funding left WPC without money for food or staff to launch the 2008 breeding season.

"It was frustrating and heartbreaking," says Elaine Williams, WPC's Executive Director. "We proved that our program creates fit, healthy shrikes that can survive and breed with the wild population, but the severe federal government cutbacks to Environment Canada meant there wasn't the money to continue. It felt as though eight years of work was about to go down the drain."

At the last minute, BOISSET Wines and Spirits stepped into the breach. Through the LCBO's Natural Heritage Fund, BOISSET had already donated $320,000 from sales of their "French rabbit" wines to build new winter housing for the birds. In light of the funding crisis, however, the winemaker generously let WPC reallocate some of that money to launch the breeding season. On top of that, they have committed additional funds over the next three years from sales of their newly released French rabbit "petit."

"We're enormously grateful that French rabbit has saved the program," says Williams. "Thanks to them, we can continue raising and releasing the birds that will bring this species back from the brink of extinction. Their commitment is tangible and real."

Funding the shrike program is part of BOISSET's commitment to wildlife and the environment. The company was the first to introduce wines in Tetra Pak containers to Ontario, a move that significantly reduces energy use, waste and pollution.

"We're thrilled to be able to support this cause," says Jean-Charles Boisset of BOISSET Wines and Spirits. "As the largest private sector donor to the recovery program, we take great pride in knowing that our success is helping to save the Eastern Loggerhead Shrike."

About WPC:
Wildlife Preservation Canada (WPC) is a charitable organization devoted to saving highly endangered animal species facing imminent extinction in Canada and internationally - species whose numbers in the wild are so low that a great deal more than habitat protection is required to recover them. Our conservation programs include research, captive breeding, reintroduction, habitat stewardship and public education - each a crucial part of species recovery - and all of our hands-on interventions are guided by scientific research and field data.

For more information about WPC and the Eastern Loggerhead Shrike, please visit www.wildlifepreservation.ca.

About Boisset Vins & Spiritueux and French Rabbit
Founded in 1961, Boisset Vins & Spiritueux is a family-owned collection of wineries and handcrafted spirits that has flourished into a leading international company. By keeping close to its Burgundian and terroir-driven roots and traditions, while exploring innovative ideas and high-quality wine regions, Boisset has become a major player on the French wines and spirits market, with an important presence on the international scene. Present in 80 countries, Boisset is among the top five French premium wine companies and the top five French exporters of premium wines. In October 2006, Boisset, in tandem with Constellation, unveiled the first wines from The Clos Jordanne, a 52-hectare estate planted with Burgundian vines in Ontario.

In 2004, inspired by the LCBO's request for alternative packaging, French winemaker Boisset was the first to introduce vintage wine in Tetra Pak containers in Canada. The launch of French Rabbit in Ontario paved the way for the brand's entry in Europe, Japan and the United States. Introduced in August 2005 in Toronto, French Rabbit wines reached sales of 200,000 litres in four months, resetting the benchmark as the most successful launch of a new wine in LCBO history.
With French Rabbit, Boisset stays true to its core values of excellence, innovation, respect for the environment, creativity and a commitment to terroir, visit www.frenchrabbit.com

About the LCBO Natural Heritage Fund
With the help of its suppliers, the LCBO Natural Heritage Fund supports projects that restore and rehabilitate wildlife and wildlife habitat in Ontario. For more information, please see

About the Eastern Loggerhead Shrike
This unique, black-masked songbird is also a bird of prey that impales its dinner on thorns and barbed wire. For the past fifty years, it has been disappearing from the Canadian grasslands where it was once a familiar sight. In Ontario, only a few dozen Eastern Loggerhead Shrikes remain in the wild.
Still digital images and video footage of Eastern Loggerhead Shrikes are available. Visits to the sites can be arranged. /For further information: visit: www.wildlifepreservation.ca

Still digital images and video footage of Eastern Loggerhead Shrikes are available. Visits to the sites can be arranged.

Contact Information

  • Elaine Williams, Executive Director
    Primary Phone: 519-836-9314
    Secondary Phone: 519-823-6239
    Toll-Free: 800-956-6608
    E-mail: elaine@wildlifepreservation.ca