OTTAWA, April 30 /CNW Telbec/ - The Committee on the Status of Endangered
Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) met at the Station écotouristique Duchesnay near
Quebec City, Quebec, April 23-27, 2007 where the conservation status of 48
species was assessed.
Recovery Efforts Succeed
The Sea Otter was wiped out in British Columbia by the fur trade in the
1700s and 1800s. It was re-introduced in 1969, when otters were brought to the
northwest coast of Vancouver Island from Alaska. Sea Otters have now
re-populated a third of their historic range in British Columbia. Numbers are
still small, but the population is growing and expanding.
Peregrine Falcons declined drastically in the 1950s and 1960s because of
pesticide contamination that thinned their eggshells. After the pesticide DDT
was banned in North America, re-introduction programs helped speed the
recovery of populations in southern Canada. All three subspecies of the
Peregrine Falcon in Canada were assessed and none are threatened.
"It is very satisfying to witness the successful recovery of species that
were on the edge of extinction, such as the Peregrine Falcon and Sea Otter. It
highlights the importance of endangered species legislation and associated
recovery programs in protecting and recovering Canada's wildlife." said Jeff
Hutchings, chair of COSEWIC.
Big Shark in Deep Trouble
Despite these successes, many species are still considered to be at risk
of extinction in Canada. Species from all regions of the country from
terrestrial, freshwater, and marine ecosystems are at risk of extinction.
The Pacific population of the Basking Shark, the largest fish in Canadian
waters, was assessed as Endangered. Feeding on tiny plankton, it grows up to
12m in length - nearly the length of a city bus. This species is particularly
susceptible to population declines because it takes up to 18 years to reach
maturity and females are pregnant for up to 3.5 years, the longest of any
animal. Populations on the BC coast have plummeted and only 6 individuals have
been seen in BC waters since 1996. An eradication program was directed at
these harmless sharks until 1970, in an attempt to protect the nets used in
the commercial salmon fishery.
Bird Declines Unexplained
COSEWIC expressed alarm that aerial-feeding, insect-eating birds are
disappearing. Both Common Nighthawk and the Chimney Swift were assessed as
Threatened. Disturbingly, the cause of these global declines in these, and
related birds, is unclear. Sharp declines over 70% in the Red Knot, a
migratory shorebird, are also cause for concern - one North American
population of this species was deemed Endangered.
Invasive Aliens Put Native Species at Risk
The introduced Zebra Mussel has decimated populations of the Eastern
Pondmussel. This freshwater mussel, found in the Great Lakes, has undergone a
massive decline. Formerly, it was estimated to occur in the billions. Only two
small populations remain in Canada and these are considered Endangered.
The Eastern Flowering Dogwood, one of Canada's showiest native trees, was
declared Endangered. Populations of this tree are being infected by Dogwood
Anthracnose, an introduced fungus, similar to the disease that has virtually
eliminated the American Chestnut.
COSEWIC assesses the national status of wild species, subspecies,
varieties, or other important units of biological diversity, that are
considered to be at risk in Canada. To do so, COSEWIC uses scientific,
Aboriginal traditional and local or community knowledge provided by many
experts from governments, academia, other organizations and individuals.
Assessment summaries are currently available to the public on the COSEWIC
website (www.cosewic.gc.ca) and will be submitted to the Federal Minister of
the Environment in August 2007 for listing consideration under the Species at
Risk Act (SARA). At that time, the full status reports will be publicly
available on the Species at Risk Public Registry (www.sararegistry.gc.ca).
There are now (552) species in various COSEWIC risk categories, including
(222) Endangered, (139) Threatened, (156) Special Concern, and 22 Extirpated
Species (i.e. no longer found in the wild in Canada). In addition, 13 are
Extinct and 45 are Data Deficient.
COSEWIC comprises members from each provincial and territorial government
wildlife agency, four federal entities (Canadian Wildlife Service, Parks
Canada Agency, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, and the Federal Biodiversity
Information Partnership, chaired by the Canadian Museum of Nature), three
non-government science members, and the co-chairs of the species specialist
and the Aboriginal traditional knowledge subcommittees.
Definition of COSEWIC terms and risk categories:
Wildlife Species: A species, subspecies, variety, or geographically or
genetically distinct population of animal, plant or other organism, other
than a bacterium or virus, that is wild by nature and is either native to
Canada or has extended its range into Canada without human intervention
and has been present in Canada for at least 50 years.
Extinct (X): A wildlife species that no longer exists
Extirpated (XT): A wildlife species no longer existing in the wild in
Canada, but occurring elsewhere
Endangered (E): A wildlife species facing imminent extirpation or
Threatened (T): A wildlife species likely to become Endangered if
limiting factors are not reversed
Special Concern (SC): A wildlife species that may become a Threatened or
an Endangered species because of a combination of biological
characteristics and identified threats
Not at Risk (NAR): A wildlife species that has been evaluated and found
to be not at risk of extinction given the current circumstances
Data Deficient (DD): A category that applies when the available
information is insufficient (a) to resolve a wildlife species'
eligibility for assessment or (b) to permit an assessment of the wildlife
species' risk of extinction.
For further information:
For further information: Dr. Jeff Hutchings, Chair, COSEWIC, Department
of Biology, Dalhousie University, Tel (1): (902) 494-2687, Tel (2): (902)
494-3515, Jeff.firstname.lastname@example.org; General inquiries: COSEWIC Secretariat, (819)
953-3215; www.cosewic.gc.ca; For inquiries on Molluscs: Janice L. Smith,
Biologist, Aquatic Ecosystem Impacts Research Division, Water Science and
Technology Directorate, Science and Technology Branch, Environment Canada,
(905) 336-4685, Fax: (905) 336-6430, email@example.com; For inquiries on
Marine Mammals: Dr. Andrew Trites, Director, Marine Mammal Research Unit ,
University of British Columbia, Cell: (604) 209-8182, Fax: (604) 822-8180,
firstname.lastname@example.org; For inquiries on Birds: Dr. Marty Leonard, Department
of Biology, Dalhousie University, (902) 494-2158, Fax: (902) 494-3736,
email@example.com; For inquiries on Freshwater Fishes: Dr. Robert Campbell,
(613) 987-2552, Fax: (613) 987-5367, firstname.lastname@example.org; For inquiries on
Peregrine Falcon: Dr. Gordon Court, Provincial Wildlife Status Biologist,
Resource Data and Species at Risk, Fish and Wildlife Division, SRD, Dept. of
Sustainable Resources, Development, Government of Alberta, (780) 422-9536,
Fax: (780) 422-0266, email@example.com; For inquiries on Marine Fishes: Dr.
Howard Powles, (819) 684-7730, Fax: (819) 684-7730, firstname.lastname@example.org; Dr.
Paul Bentzen, Resource Conservation Genetics, Dept. of Biology, Dalhousie
University, (902) 494-1105, Fax: (902) 494-3736, Paul.Bentzen@dal.ca; For
inquiries on Trees and Plants: Erich Haber, (613) 435-0216, Fax: (613)
435-0217, email@example.com; For inquiries on Aboriginal Traditional
Knowledge: Henry Lickers, Mohawk Council of Akwesasne, Department of the
Environment, (613) 936-1548, Fax: (613) 938-6760, firstname.lastname@example.org;
Further details on all species assessed, and the reasons for designations, can
be found on the COSEWIC website at: www.cosewic.gc.ca