Wildlife has intrinsic value and is also valued for it’s aesthetic, cultural, spiritual, recreational, educational, historical, economic, medical, ecological and scientific reasons. Since 2003, we have had the Species at Risk Act (SARA) in Canada to help maintain the biodiversity.
The Species at Risk Act was established to protect Canadian indigenous species, subspecies, and distinct populations from becoming extirpated or extinct, to provide for their recovery and to encourage species management of other species to keep them from becoming “at risk”. The Act also established the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) to independently access and identify the species which may be at risk.
Classifications of Species in the Species at Risk Act
There are essentially five classifications that species can fall under:
- Special Concern
Species of Special Concern
The species that fall under this classification are vulnerable and may become threatened or endangered.
Threatened species refers to those wildlife species that are likely to become an endangered species if nothing is done to reverse the factors leading to its extirpation or extinction.
Most people are familiar with this term. An endangered species a wildlife species that is facing imminent extirpation or extinction. Endangered species may be at risk due to factors such as habitat loss, poaching and invasive species.
When a species no longer exists in one area, but does else where, it is considered to be extirpated. It is like a local extinction.
Next to endangered species, this classification is probably the most known. This is when a species no longer exists — anywhere.
Think of the dinosaurs, or the dodo bird.
For an even more recent example, the passenger pigeon.
Threatened, Endangered and Extirpated Canadian Species
Swift Fox (Vulpes velox)
Status: Threatened Species
The Swift Fox is smaller, more slender and lighter in colour than the Red Fox. Swift Foxes were once found in the dry prairie habits from Canada to Texas. Extirpated from Canada in 1928, they were reintroduced in the 1980s. In 1999, the status of the Swift Fox was down-listed from “extirpated” to “endangered” with 279 foxes in the wild. November 2009, the species was reassessed as “threatened” by COSEWIC. In 2012, the SARA status has been changed to “threatened”.
Southern Resident Killer Whale (Orcinus orca)
Status : Endangered Species
Killer whales are the largest member of the dolphin family and are easily recognised by their tall dorsal fins and distinctive black and white markings. The known range of the Southern Resident Killer Whale extends from northern British Columbia to central California. One of the most critical aspects of Southern Resident Killer Whale habitats is the availability of food, namely the Chinook Salmon. The acoustic environment is important as well as Southern Resident Killer Whales need an ocean quiet enough for the transmission and reception of their echolocation clicks and vocalisations which are essential for navigation, foraging, cultural and social purposes.
The population of Southern Resident Killer Whales is small and declining, and the trend is expected to continue. They are limited by the availability of their principal prey, the Chinook Salmon. There are forecasts of continued low abundance of Chinook Salmon. Increasing physical and acoustical disturbance, oil spills and contaminants continues to threaten the species.
Eastern Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina)
Status: Extirpated Species
Designated as “Extirpated” in November 2014, the Eastern Box Turtle lived in Ontario based on archaeological evidence and Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge. Less than ten of these turtles have been documented in Ontario, but all of them were released into the wild and are not native Canadian Eastern Box Turtles. It is believed that habitat modification is to blame for the extirpation of this species.
What can we do?
Getting out and experiencing nature is one of the best ways to build a bond with the natural world which will help encourage people to protect it.
Especially in children.
My kiddos love Earth Rangers.
We heard about it a couple of years ago from their school.
It’s a non-profit conservation program directed towards youth. It helps educate children and their families about biodiversity and gives children missions to complete. It empowers children to become involved in helping animals and their habitats.
Plant some trees!
The middle kiddo wanted me to link to #TeamTrees.
$1.00 plants a tree, and they’ve already planted over 22,000,000 trees world wide. My kids really want to physically plant trees, but we live in an apartment. I am hoping that next summer we can find a local project to volunteer for and help in tree planting. For now, they occasionally donate their allowance to help plant trees.