Search for "endangered species"

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timeline event

Population of North Atlantic Right Whales Drops to 411

The North Atlantic Right Whale Consortium reported that the total population of the endangered species of whale dropped from 451 to 411 in one year. Philip Hamilton, a research scientist who co-authored the report, said, “This is a relatively slow producing species. If you lost 40 whales in one year, and there are 400 left, that gives you 10 years [before extinction] if you keep that trajectory.”

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Blue Whale

The blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus) is the largest animal known to have ever lived on Earth. It is a difficult whale to study because of its low numbers and its preference for deep, offshore waters. Within Balaenoptera musculus, authorities recognize between three and five subspecies. Blue whales live in oceans throughout the world, including off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of Canada. Although blue whale sightings are rare, experts believe that about 250 mature individuals live off each coast.

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Western Rattlesnake

The Western rattlesnake (Crotalus oreganus) is a venomous snake native to North America. It is one of three rattlesnake species found in Canada (a fourth is extirpated). Only one subspecies of Western rattlesnake, the Northern Pacific rattlesnake (Crotalus oreganus oreganus), is found here. In Canada, Western rattlesnakes are only found in British Columbia. They are active from April to October, hibernating the rest of the year. Western rattlesnakes face many threats including habitat loss and fragmentation, road mortality, and persecution from humans.

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Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake

The Eastern massasauga (Sistrurus catenatus) is a relatively small rattlesnake that is native to the Great Lakes region of eastern North America. It is one of three rattlesnake species found in Canada (a fourth is extirpated). Its Canadian distribution is restricted to several small, disjunct areas in southern Ontario. The massasauga has disappeared from much of its historical range. Populations continue to decline due to ongoing threats, including habitat loss, deaths on roads and intentional persecution from humans.

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Extinct Plants in Canada

There is one plant native to Canada that is extinct. Called Macoun’s shining moss (Neomacounia nitida), this plant grew near Belleville, Ontario. Given the abundance of plant species found in Canada, it’s perhaps surprising that only one is extinct, especially when compared to the number of extinct animals in the country — 18 as of 2021. However, Macoun’s shining moss is likely not the only extinct Canadian plant. It is possible that many more species went extinct before botanists observed and recorded them. Because early settlers were more likely to notice animals and use them for food and economic purposes, their disappearance was better documented. (See also Extinct Animals in Canada.)

timeline event

Ottawa Announces New Measures to Protect Right Whales

The federal government announced new measures to protect North Atlantic right whales in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. These include lowering speed limits, expanding the limits to cover a greater area and applying them to ships of all sizes. Aerial surveillance will also be used to spot whales and alert ships to their presence. At least 18 right whales have been killed in the area since 2017. Only about 400 of the endangered whales remain worldwide.

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Grey Whale

The grey whale (Eschrichtius robustus) is a baleen whale found in the North Pacific Ocean. It is known for its very long migrations and seafloor feeding. Due to its habit of staying near the shore and curiosity around small ships, it is a favourite among whale watchers. Researchers generally group grey whales into three populations: the Western Pacific population, the Northern Pacific migratory population, and the Pacific Coast Feeding Group (PCFG). While all three populations migrate through waters on Canada’s west coast, the most well-known residents in Canadian waters are from the PCFG. Many of these individuals live off the coast of British Columbia year-round.

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Endangered Plants in Canada

A species is endangered if there are threats to its survival. Plants are put at risk for several reasons, including: climate change and the loss of natural habitat to cities, agriculture and industry. In Canada, these activities threaten entire natural ecosystems, such as older forests and Prairie grasslands. As of 2021, 250 plant species are at risk in Canada, according to the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. In addition, four are extirpated and one is extinct. The committee’s definition of a wildlife species includes taxonomic categories as well as geographically distinct populations. For example, the bent spike-rush (Eleocharis geniculate) is included on the list of at risk plant species twice, as there are two different populations, one in British Columbia and one in Ontario, facing different threats to their survival. (See also Endangered Animals in Canada.)

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Extinct Animals in Canada

As of May 2021, 18 animal species once found in Canada are now extinct, according to the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC). The committee’s definition of a wildlife species includes taxonomic categories as well as geographically distinct populations. For example, the Atlantic salmon appears on COSEWIC’s list of at-risk species 15 times, as there are 15 populations of Atlantic salmon in Canada facing different threats to their survival. Similarly, when one of these populations goes extinct — as was the case for Atlantic salmon in Lake Ontario in 1898 — there are specific, cascading effects for the ecosystem that the population belongs to. Communities may lose fishing opportunities and other animals may lose a source of food. Though the Atlantic salmon is an example of a species with populations still observable in the wild, this list of 18 also includes animals that no longer exist anywhere on the planet, such as the sea mink or great auk. The reasons for the extinction of these animals range from overhunting to predation from invasive species to,­ in the case of the Eelgrass limpet, a plight of slime mould.

timeline event

Death of the Last Sable Island Horse in Captivity

Veterinarians at Shubenacadie Wildlife Park near Halifax euthanized an unnamed, 30-year-old Sable Island Horse. It was the last of its kind in captivity. Its death reignited a longstanding debate about what to do with the 400 or so feral horses that live on Sable Island. The invasive species was introduced to the island — a remote spit about 300 km east of Nova Scotia — in the 1750s. They have stripped it of virtually all vegetation. About 10 per cent of the herd dies every year due to starvation.

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Leatherback Sea Turtle

The leatherback sea turtle (Dermochelys coriacea), or simply “leatherback,” is the largest turtle and widest-ranging reptile in the world. It began evolving over 100 million years ago and is the last remaining member of the Dermochelyidae family. It has seven subpopulations worldwide, two of which can be found in Canadian waters.

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Northern Bottlenose Whale

The northern bottlenose whale (Hyperoodon ampullatus) is a toothed whale found in the northern regions of the Atlantic Ocean. In Canadian waters, there are two populations: one off the coast of Nova Scotia, known as the Scotian shelf population, and the other off the coast of Labrador, known as the Baffin-Labrador population. The Scotian shelf population is endangered while the Baffin-Labrador population is considered “special concern” by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. The northern bottlenose whale is the largest beaked whale in the North Atlantic. (See also Endangered Animals in Canada.)

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Right Whale

Right whales are a baleen whale found in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans. There are three species: the North Pacific right whale (Eubalaena japonica), North Atlantic right whale (Eubalaena glacialis) and southern right whale (Eubalaena australis). In Canadian waters, the North Pacific right whale is rarely sighted, but was historically found along British Columbia’s coast. The North Atlantic right whale is found along the Scotian Shelf and in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Both the North Pacific and North Atlantic right whale are listed as endangered under Canada’s Species at Risk Act. (See also Endangered Animals in Canada.)

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Nature Conservancy of Canada

The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) is the largest land conservation charity in Canada. Since 1962, NCC has helped to protect more than 160,000 km2 of land and water across the country. Its mission is to partner with individual donors, corporations, non-profits and governments to purchase and protect areas rich in species diversity (see Biodiversity). The charity and its partners achieve this goal by working with local communities to identify habitat and species in need of protection, and by implementing the best evidence-based conservation science available. As of June 2019, the NCC has conserved habitat across Canada for 34 per cent of Canada’s species at risk. (See also Endangered Animals in Canada.)

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National Parks of Canada

Canada’s national parks are protected areas established under federal legislation to preserve Canada’s natural heritage. They are administered by Parks Canada, a government agency that evolved from the world’s first national parks service, the Dominion Parks Branch, established in 1911. The National Parks System Plan, developed in 1970, divided Canada into 39 natural regions and set the goal of representing each region with at least one national park. Canada now has 48 national parks and national park reserves in 30 of these regions. In total, the parks cover more than 340,000 km2, which is over 3 per cent of Canada’s landmass. They protect important land and marine habitats, geographical features and sites of cultural significance. National parks also benefit local economies and the tourism industry in Canada.

(This is the full-length entry about National Parks of Canada. For a plain-language summary, please see National Parks of Canada (Plain-Language Summary).)