In most parks in the city, you will see the big riding lawn mowers but in the protected Meewasin Northeast Swale, it’s all about the sheep. This is the sixth year that a flock of sheep will graze the Swale to conserve and improve the 300 hectare grassland area.
Resource Management Officer with the Meewasin Valley Authority, Renny Grilz, says for the next 6 weeks, 325 sheep will graze different sections of the land. Their grazing of the grasses and shrubs helps the Plains Rough Fescue to grow. It’s a rare native grass that is only found in Canada. It also helps control the invasive shrubs that have popped up because of a few wetter than normal years previous to this year. Grilz says having the sheep at the Swale also helps Grassland birds, including species at risk like the short-eared owl and the common nighthawk. The grazed, lower grasses make for better nesting areas and promote insects, which the birds feed on. Meewasin uses sheep, goats and cattle for conservation grazing in other areas, but the sheep at the Swale are the only ones inside the city limits.