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SALLY COLE: Rosemary Curley leads charge in researching and writing Mammals of Prince Edward Island and Adjacent Marine Waters

Rosemary Curley holds a copy of Mammals of Prince Edward Island and Adjacent Marine Waters, a book she co-wrote with co-authored with Pierre-Yves Daoust, Donald F. McCalpine Kimberly Riehl and J. Dan McAskill. It’s published by Island Studies Press at UPEI.
Rosemary Curley holds a copy of Mammals of Prince Edward Island and Adjacent Marine Waters, a book she co-wrote with co-authored with Pierre-Yves Daoust, Donald F. McCalpine Kimberly Riehl and J. Dan McAskill. It’s published by Island Studies Press at UPEI.

Rosemary Curley had a dream.

She wanted to write a book about the mammals of Prince Edward Island.

So, when the wildlife biologist retired in 2014 after 35 years with the Forests Fish and Wildlife Division of P.E.I., she turned her attention to the project.

“I’ve had the idea for a long time. I wanted to do it because there was so little information available for people who want to know. There’s also some new species,” says the Stratford resident.

But first, she needed to find some co-authors.

She also needed to raise the necessary funds to publish it.

So, after assembling her editorial team and raising money in 2015, everyone set to work researching and writing the book.

The result is a 300-page soft-cover publication, Mammals of Prince Edward Island and Adjacent Marine Water, that she has co-authored with Pierre-Yves Daoust, Donald F. McCalpine Kimberly Riehl and J. Dan McAskill. Filled with photos, maps and illustrations, it touches on 38 terrestrial mammals including Northern Flying Squirrel, Red Fox, River Otter and Striped Skunk, along with 29 marine mammals including Hooded Seal, Long-finned Pilot Whale, Beluga and Bottlenose Dolphin.

“I hope people will refer to it for many years to come because there wasn’t any information readily available, before this.”

It also introduces readers to new species, which include the hoary bat, which was discovered when it landed on someone’s doorstep, and the northern, long-eared bat, discovered after a cat brought it to its owner. Later, several northern eared bats were found in hibernation in the basement of a P.E.I. home.

Along the way there were other discoveries.

“We were really surprised to have grey squirrels, woodchucks and water shrews showing up. When Austin Cameron and his sidekicks came in 1953 for three weeks and trapped and talked to Spurgeon Jenkins, who was the game warden, they had written everything there was to know about mammals in one small chapter of a museum publication, Mammals in the Islands of the Gulf of St. Lawrence 1953.

The book has been well-received, winning a 2020 Culture and Heritage Award from the City of Summerside.

It’s a legacy that Curley and the co-authors are happy to leave for future generations.

“I hope people will refer to it for many years to come because there wasn’t any information readily available, before this.”


Sally Cole is an entertainment writer with The Guardian. She welcomes comments about her column as well as suggestions for future columns from readers. She may be reached at gypsygale@gmail.com or by phone at 902-218-6153.

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