A Blanding’s turtle (Gabrielle Fortin/Contributed)

A Blanding’s turtle (Gabrielle Fortin/Contributed)

Our species to save: Use this time to learn more about Canada’s endangered animals

We share our country with about 80,000 known wild species, 800 of them are endangered

Dan Kraus, Nature Conservancy of Canada

Endangered species day was established 15 years ago. It is a day for us to learn about the wildlife, plants, animals and insects that are at risk of disappearing and perhaps most importantly, what we can do about it.

Every nation has a unique role in saving our planet’s endangered species. As Canadians it’s important that we know about the plight and prospects of wildlife from around the world. But it is most critical that Canadians know about the fellow species that share our lands and waters. These are the plants and animals that we steward and can take action to protect. Our decisions alone will determine their future.

We share our country with about 80,000 known wild species. We don’t know the exact number, and more remain to be described and discovered. Many of these plants and animals are common and thriving. Species like raccoon, mallard and Labrador-tea are not endangered, and have a low risk of ever being lost from Canada.

There is an important group in our Canadian collection of known plants and animals that are at risk of disappearing. Canada has about 800 species, sub-species and varieties of wildlife that have been officially assessed as at risk, but this probably represents less than a quarter of all plants and animals that are imperiled in our country. Without conservation actions, these species could join Canada’s “missing” species such as the greater prairie chicken, eastern box turtle and great laurel.

Within this group of nationally imperiled species are about 1,600 plants and animals that are also of global conservation concern. Many of these have very small ranges like the Bicknell’s thrush of Quebec, Atlantic Canada and the northeastern US, or the sand-verbena moth that is limited to a handful of sites of coastal sites in Washington and B.C. including the Nature Conservancy of Canada’s James Island. In most cases, we share the stewardship of these species with other nations, primarily our American neighbors.

Nationally and globally imperiled species are critical to conserve. We can help by protecting key wetlands, forests, coastal areas and grasslands by supporting the work of the Nature Conservancy of Canada and other land trusts. These projects leverage matching funds from the federal Natural Heritage Conservation Program.

There is also a select group of wildlife that are worth learning about. About 310 plants and animals live in Canada and nowhere else in the world. These range from a unique variety of the weasel-like marten that only lives on the island of Newfoundland to a small fish called the Vancouver lamprey that is restricted to Vancouver Island to a delicate wildflower that grows along the arctic coast called hairy braya that was rediscovered based on notes from the Franklin expedition. Most of the species in this select group have always been restricted to this geography we now call Canada. A few like the eastern wolf, have been lost from their former range in the US and their last stronghold against extinction is in Canada.

These are uniquely Canadian species. No other country can protect them. Later this spring, NatureServe Canada and the Nature Conservancy of Canada will be releasing a report and some maps on this select group of all-Canadian wildlife. If we want to pass on the full richness of the world’s wildlife to future generations, we need to protect these species.

We can use this time of social distancing to nudge closer to nature. To learn a little more about even just one of our endangered species in Canada. Learning is the foundation of conservation. Knowing what other species share our community and our country. Learning why they might disappear. Learning what can be done to save them.

Dan Kraus is senior conservation biologist with the Nature Conservancy of Canada

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

(PQB News file photo)
Parksville council looks to address concerns about speeding dump trucks on city streets

Residents concerned about heavy-duty vehicles cutting through side roads

Arrowsmith Search and Rescue members, before descending into a gorge near Nile Creek to rescue an injured woman on Sunday, May 2, 2021. (ASAR Twitter photo)
Arrowsmith SAR crews help rescue hiker who plunged 10 metres onto rocks near Nile Creek

Helicopter with winch system required for technical operation in remote location

The courthouse in Nanaimo, B.C. (News Bulletin file)
Nanoose Bay man sentenced after causing a dog unnecessary pain and suffering

Kiefer Tyson Giroux, 26, given six-month sentence after beating pet he was supposed to be caring for

Protesters attempt to stop clear-cutting of old-growth trees in Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew. (Will O���Connell photo)
VIDEO: Workers, activists clash at site of Vancouver Island logging operation

Forest license holders asking for independent investigation into incident

(Kamloops This Week file photo)
Federal police unit takes over probe of B.C. regional district’s spending

Financial Integrity Sensitive Investigations Unit is now reviewing the case

A black bear made a visit to downtown Vancouver Tuesday, May 4. The animal was spotted on train tracks in Gastown shortly after at 2:30 p.m. (Twitter/Craig Minielly)
VIDEO: Black bear spotted meandering around downtown Vancouver

The bear was reportedly tranquilized by conservation officers Tuesday afternoon

A man who allegedly spat at and yelled racial slurs at an Asian family was arrested for hate-motivated assault Tuesday. (Black Press Media file photo)
Arrest made after man spits, yells anti-Asian racial slurs at Victoria mom and kids

The man was arrested for hate-motivated assault near Quadra Elementary School Tuesday

A lady wears a vaccinated sticker after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Canada may find it challenging to reach herd immunity from COVID-19, experts say

Level of immunity among the population changes with the variants, especially the more transmissible strains

Flow Academy is located at 1511 Sutherland Avenue in Kelowna. (Michael Rodriguez/Capital News)
Interior Health locks out Kelowna martial arts gym following COVID violations

Actions were taken after all other steps to gain compliance were exhausted, says health authority

Vivian Hermansen, Snuneymuxw First Nation, initiator of petition e-3281. Photo by Karen Evans.
Status card wait times an example of systemic racism, says Campbell River woman

Snuneymuxw woman launches petition as people waiting up to two years, as passports take three weeks

B.C.’s provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Dip in COVID-19 cases with 572 newly announced in B.C.

No new deaths have been reported but hospitalized patients are up to 481, with 161 being treated in intensive care

Following a one-year pause due to the pandemic, the Snowbirds were back in the skies over the Comox Valley Wednesday (May 5) morning. Photo by Erin Haluschak
Video: Snowbirds hold first training session in Comox Valley in more than 2 years

The team will conduct their training from May 4 to 26 in the area

Most Read