Tenth anniversary of Species at Risk Act should serve as wake-up call, says Wildlife Preservation Canada

TORONTO, Dec. 12, 2012 /CNW/ - Ten years after Canada passed the Species at Risk Act, 668 species in Canada are facing the threat of extinction. That should be a wake-up call, says Wildlife Preservation Canada (WPC), the "911" organization for endangered animals.

According to a report recently released by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC), 15 species are currently extinct, 297 are endangered, and 22 are no longer found in the wild in Canada, a significant increase since the Act was introduced on December 12, 2002. With each animal species that disappears, Canada is losing a valuable part of its natural heritage.

"By the time the situation is serious enough to put a species on the threatened list, it often takes intensive, hands-on work to save them," explains WPC Executive Director Elaine Williams. "And each year, more animal species in Canada get added to the list."

WPC specializes in captive breeding and release programs, reintroductions and other direct interventions.

"Essentially, we're a 911 service for species whose numbers in the wild have dropped dangerously low," says Williams. "In particular, we focus on often-overlooked species, such as bees, frogs and birds. These animals don't tug at the heartstrings of the public the way polar bears and humpback whales do, but they play just as critical a role in Canada's web of life."

But with projects to save 11 wildlife species currently underway across the country and more than 40 species on its "waiting list," WPC has more work than it can handle.

"Canada should be doing far more to protect its wildlife," says Williams. "It's an issue more Canadians need to be aware of, and we're hoping the tenth anniversary of the Species At Risk Act will serve as a much-needed wake-up call."

Current WPC projects include:

  • A captive breeding program for the Oregon spotted frog, now reduced to just four locations in B.C.'s lower Fraser Valley
  • Launching the first science-based, at-risk wild bee conservation program in North America to save the rusty-patched bumblebee, once one of Ontario's most common pollinators and now one of the most endangered
  • Returning the swift fox to the Prairies, one of the most successful canid species reintroduction programs in the world
  • Breeding and releasing eastern loggerhead shrikes in Ontario — a program that has become an international model for migratory songbird recovery

In 2013, the organization will support a program to move doomed Massasauga rattlesnakes out of the way of a highway expansion project. The COSEWIC recently reclassified this population (eastern Georgian Bay) from "threatened" to "endangered," meaning it is in imminent danger of disappearing forever.

About WPC:
Wildlife Preservation Canada (WPC) is a charitable organization devoted to saving highly endangered animal species facing imminent extinction in Canada — species whose numbers in the wild are so low that a great deal more than habitat protection is required to recover them. We are the only non-governmental organization in Canada running captive breeding and release programs, translocation and other direct interventions to save multiple species across the country. We work in collaboration with other organizations and expert Recovery Teams, and all of our hands-on interventions are guided by scientific research and field data.

SOURCE: Wildlife Preservation Canada

For further information:

For still images and video footage of the species we work with, or for more information on our programs go to www.wildlifepreservation.ca or contact:

Elaine Williams
Executive Director, Wildlife Preservation Canada
519-836-9314 or cell: 226-979-2182
elaine@wildlifepreservation.ca