National Wildlife Week Plants a Message about Habitat Loss



    OTTAWA, April 6 /CNW Telbec/ - The Canadian Wildlife Federation is
showcasing the value of native plants as part of this year's National Wildlife
Week celebrations April 5th to 11th. The campaign encourages Canadians to
conserve and protect "Our Home and Native Plants" because habitat loss is
putting many species at risk.
    "Critical habitat has to be protected," said Wade Luzny, Executive Vice
President of the Canadian Wildlife Federation. "Many creatures depend on the
presence of native vegetation for their survival, including rare and
endangered species. Many butterflies, songbirds, shorebirds, amphibians,
waterfowl and mammals are at risk because of disappearing habitat." For
example:

    
    - Disappearing native prairie has put the swift fox on the endangered
      list as the fox's habitat has vastly diminished.
    - The least bittern, the smallest of the North American herons, is
      threatened in Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick since invasive plant
      species have been introduced and humans have started draining wetlands
      and tampering with shorelines.
    - Manitoba prairie skinks, small, slender lizards, are endangered due to
      agriculture, urbanization and road construction that have reduced the
      mixed grass prairies and sandy soil they survive on.
    - The Eastern prickly pear cactus of southwestern Ontario has been listed
      as endangered partly due to people collecting the plant for
      horticultural uses.
    - Destroying grassy meadows has put the golden paintbrush, a perennial
      herb of southeastern Vancouver Island and two and adjacent Gulf
      Islands, on the endangered list.
    - Since goldenseal has been harvested for medicinal purposes, its numbers
      have dwindled and this beautiful plant is now threatened. Moreover, the
      southern Ontario perennial herb is losing habitat partly due to
      development.
    

    "Native plants have the advantage of thousands of years of adaptation to
Canadian conditions. Through natural selection, they have co-evolved with
local wildlife and have developed defense mechanisms to survive among Canadian
herbivores and insects without the need for harmful pesticides and
fertilizers," said Luzny. "Canada has thousands of identified native plant
species but more than a quarter of them could be lost forever if we don't take
action. Meanwhile foreign species can invade Canada's wilderness, damaging
vital natural ecosystems. We can all be part of the solution by helping to
conserve and protect native plants."
    National Wildlife Week is celebrated each year during the week
surrounding April 10th in honour of the late Jack Miner, who was instrumental
in founding Canada's conservation movement and is credited with saving Canada
Geese from extinction. For more information about native plants and what CWF
is doing to protect habitat visit nationalwildlifeweek.ca.

    About the Canadian Wildlife Federation:

    The Canadian Wildlife Federation is a national non-profit organization
dedicated to fostering awareness and appreciation of our natural world. By
spreading knowledge of human impacts on the environment, sponsoring research,
promoting the sustainable use of natural resources, recommending policy
changes and co-operating with like-minded partners, CWF encourages a future in
which Canadians can live in harmony with nature. Visit cwf-fcf.org.




For further information:

For further information: Heather Robison, Media Relations Officer, (306)
550-4155, heatherr@cwf-fcf.org

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