Reviewing the Risks: The Latest Assessments at the COSEWIC Meeting

Three Canadian species at risk of disappearing from Canada are…

The assessment of 22 wildlife species by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) in November has highlighted a need for provincial and federal governments to work towards preventing the loss of Canada’s native species.  COSEWIC found the risk status of three species at risk of disappearing from Canada – the Polar Bear, Black Ash tree and Chinook Salmon.

Polar Bear

Polar Bear

These gorgeous bears rely on seal hunting to survive. However, scientists are predicting longer Arctic summers which will make hunting this crucial prey harder. Inuit are hopeful that Polar Bears will be able to adapt and that this ability may save this at-risk bear. The Committee has listed the bear as of Special Concern.

Chinook Salmon

The Chinook salmon migration to the Upper Yukon River must travel around the Whitehorse Rapids Generating Facility via a 300 m long fish ladder. A viewing chamber partway through the ladder provides an incredible opportunity for the public to observe Chinook salmon as they approach spawning grounds

Did you know that Chinook Salmon complete the longest migration in Canada? Sadly, their journey is wrought with challenges and threats along the way.  The committee found 13 populations to be in significant decline and has listed eight populations as Endangered, four as Threatened and one as of Special Concern.

“As a founding member of the Committee for the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada, CWF is concerned that 13 of the 16 population groups of Chinook Salmon assessed from southern British Columbia are at risk of extinction,” says David Browne, CWF Director of Conservation Science. “Declining quality of marine and freshwater habitat is sighted as a key factor. This is yet more reason to invest in habitat restoration and protection in the Fraser River watershed and address the Cohen Commission recommendations. This is also sad news for Southern Resident Killer Whales as their main prey, Fraser River Chinook Salmon, are determined to be at risk of extinction by Canada’s experts.”

Black Ash

Black ash leaves
@ Keith Kanoti

The malicious Emerald Ash Borer has wedeled its way into many forests in Canada. This invasive species has wiped out approximately two billion trees in North America and has no intention of slowing down (or showing much mercy).

It’s unclear how the 162 million Black Ash trees still standing will survive, and so the committee listed the tree as Threatened. Black Ash are a very important tree to our forests. They’re the most widely distributed trees in Canada and are used to make commercial items like baskets, furniture, flooring and snowshoes.

What You Can Do

upload observations to inaturalist.ca
Upload observations to iNaturalist.ca

The last thing we’d want is for you to feel helpless after reading the state of some of Canada’s wildlife. That’s why, we’ve got plenty that you can do to help!  Did you know 13 of the 22 species assessed have been observed by iNaturalist users? You can help to inform assessments of other species by downloading the iNaturalist app and be part of Canada’s biodiversity monitoring team!

 

Happy World Wildlife Day!

Canada is home to over 70,000 species. That’s a lot of nature to love – and a lot of wildlife to conserve!

Canada’s history has been inextricably tied to the natural landscapes, vast wilderness and diverse wildlife that define our national and global identity. These are the images most often associated with Canada; they inspire the sense of wonder you feel when immersed in nature. How we connect to nature over the next 150 years will be determined by the efforts we take to conserve the diversity of wildlife today.

As we sit, over 600 species of plants and animals are at risk of being lost from Canada. There isn’t any one culprit, but rather a combination of factors that are leading to species decline. The Canadian Wildlife Federation has regional and national programs that help protect at-risk species across Canada. With the support of thousands of Canadians, we work to conserve wildlife and wild spaces, addressing threats from industrial development, pollution, habitat loss and climate change.

Helping to conserve Canada’s most endangered wildlife

Polar Bear

Polar Bear: Polar Bears live throughout the Arctic, often along the coastlines and throughout the Arctic islands. They prefer to live in areas near sea ice to catch their favourite prey, Ringed Seals. As climate change reduces the total ice cover in the Arctic, Polar Bears are losing critcal areas for hunting, travelling and breeding.

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron (fannini subspecies): Draining of marshes and destruction of other favourite habitat is a serious threat to the Great Blue Heron’s survival in British Columbia. The number of herons breeding in an area is directly related to the amount of feeding habitat available to them.

Leatherback Sea Turtle

Leatherback Sea Turtle: The Leatherback Sea Turtle is classified as Endangered by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. Leatherbacks have experienced a dramatic population decline of more than 60 per cent since 1982. Currently, the total number of nesting females is thought to be less than 35,000 worldwide.

Woodland Caribou

Woodland Caribou (boreal population): The Boreal population of Woodland Caribou, which occurs in the Northwest Territories, British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, and Newfoundland and Labrador, has been assessed as Threatened by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) and is listed under the Species at Risk Act.

Beluga Whale

Beluga Whale: A number of factors are thought to contribute to the decline of the population of Belugas that live in the St. Lawrence River. Pollution levels in the river are high. Dredging, shipping, industrial activity and environmental pollution have also resulted in a decline in habitat quality and contamination of food supply.

Sometimes species at risk need a louder voice than any one organization can give, but we’ve been able to accomplish great things with support from people like you.

We have an extraordinary opportunity for your support to have maximum impact — three times the impact in helping our cause. Thanks to longtime CWF supporter Rene Cooper, any donation you make during our Matching Gift campaign will be tripled. Rene’s greatest passion was her love of animals and wildlife. She cared so much about all the creatures that crossed her path. Rene was a passionate advocate for the conservation of wildlife habitats and in honour of her gift and memory, these funds will be put to work for the conservation of Canada’s endangered species and species at risk.

Visit GiveAGiftToWildlife.ca to donate today and triple your impact.

Photo Scapes: Standing on Thin Ice

How are Canada’s great white giants of the North handling a decline in sea ice? We’re working hard to find out.

Polar Bear

A National Icon

The Polar Bear is probably one of the most prominent species that comes to mind when we think of Arctic animals. Living in the frigid great white North, these beautiful beasts rely on sea ice as a platform for hunting, travelling and mating.

Polar Bear

Canada is home to two thirds of the global Polar Bear population, which means we have an important responsibility towards the conservation of this incredible species. The Polar Bear was listed as a species of Special Concern in November 2011 under the Species at Risk Act.

Polar Bear

On Thin Ice

Polar Bears prefer to live in areas near sea ice to catch their favourite prey, ringed seals. Because of this, some subpopulations face long-term threats due to climate change. As the water gets warmer each year, the ice shrinks, making it difficult for Polar Bears to hunt enough seals to survive.

Polar Bear

The summer seasons are getting longer as Arctic temperatures rise, forcing the Polar Bear to fast for longer periods of time. The longer summer seasons also leave less time for the Polar Bears to store fat and prepare for the fast they must endure.

Polar Bear

The early break up of sea ice means that Polar Bears have less time to hunt seals and build up their fat stores, causing bears to come ashore in poorer condition. Instead, they move inland where they remain less active, living off the fat they’ve stored.

Polar Bear

When the bears do search for food, most try to snatch carcasses, but females with cubs might snack on grasses and berries to get by. However, the more Polar Bears move inland, the more these great white bears increase their chances of becoming problematic for humans.

Polar Bear

Surviving the Arctic

Polar Bears are wonderfully adapted to their Arctic surroundings. Their thick winter coats, with glossy guard hairs and dense underfur, and the thick layer of fat beneath their skin protect them against the cold. Probably the most significant adaptation of polar bears to the uncertainties of food availability in the Arctic is their ability to slow down their metabolism to conserve energy at any time of year.

Polar Bear

Did you know that cubs stick close to their mothers for two and a half years? As a result, female Polar Bears only have new litters every three years. Since Polar Bears breed at a slow rate, it’s crucial that the cubs survive.

Polar Bear

Supporting the Polar Bear

CWF is working towards the long-term survival of Polar Bears by monitoring behaviour shifts in response to changes in their habitat, advocating for polar bear-friendly legislative protection, and by engaging the public on climate change.

Polar Bear

As individuals, we can help Polar Bears by reducing our consumption of greenhouse-emitting gases and household pollution. Each time we use energy, small amounts of carbon are emitted, either by our furnaces or through power plants. Reducing energy usage in the home, and cutting back on the amount we drive, can help reduce pollution.

Polar Bear

What can you do to help the Polar Bears?

  • Adopt a Polar Bear and help fund climate change education in Canada
  • Make a Symbolic Gift in support of wildlife research. Your donation can go towards an important project, such as aerial surveillance of Polar Bear populations in the Hudson Bay area.

Together, we can conserve the wildlife and natural habitats that Canadians love.

It’s Polar Bear Day!

http://cwf-fcf.org/assets/images/resources/newsletters/wildlife-update/2008/wu-oct2008/polar-bear-m.jpg

Polar bears are one of the most well-known and recognizable Canadian species. These bears are Canada’s largest land carnivore, with adult males weighing up to 800 kilograms (1,763 pounds). The white coats of the adults often appear cream to yellow against the dazzling whiteness of their home, the arctic pack ice.

Polar bears live throughout the North, along the coastlines and throughout the arctic islands from Hudson Bay to the North pole. Different regions have different groups of bears, called subpopulations. Polar bears prefer to live in areas near sea ice to catch their favourite prey, ringed seals. Because of this, some subpopulations face long-term threats due to climate change. As the water gets warmer each year, the ice shrinks, making it difficult for polar bears to hunt enough seals to survive.

What is CWF doing to help polar bears and other arctic wildlife?

CWF is working towards the long-term survival of polar bears by monitoring behaviour shifts in response to changes in their habitat, advocating for polar bear-friendly legislative protection, and by engaging the public on climate change.

Monitoring the current trends of the polar bear is crucial, as this data helps citizens, businesses, and government make informed decisions about the future of polar bears.  Since May 2012, CWF has partnered with researchers at York University to study the feeding habits and lifestyle of the Hudson Bay subpopulation.  The majority of this work was done in Northern Ontario (James Bay area).

CWF is also working with government to ensure a proper management plan is in place.  This includes sharing research and bear trends with the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada, or COSEWIC.   This committee advises federal politicians on which species should receive special protection under the Federal Species at Risk Act in Canada.

As individuals, we can help wildlife like Polar bears by reducing our consumption of greenhouse-emitting gases and household pollution.  Each time we use energy, small amounts of carbon are emitted, either by our furnaces or through power plants.  Reducing energy usage in the home, and cutting back on the amount we drive, can help reduce our personal pollution.  Through online and mail communications, like Candian Wildlife magazine, CWF informs Canadians about the ways they can reduce their emissions.  If we all work together, this can help slow negative changes to  polar bear habitats.

Together, through safeguarding their habitat, we can help  the recovery of these amazing animals!

Learn more about polar bears:

Biathlon

The origin of the biathlon can be traced back thousands of years to when hunters would track game on skis and kill prey using spears.  Today, the Olympic biathlon is less about survival as competitors’ self-discipline and instincts are tested.

In a climate as harsh as Canada’s, a special skill set and the will to survive is necessary. Let’s see how Canada’s toughest species battle through winter and live to see another summer.

 

Bronze Medal- Little Brown Bat

 

Photo by Bob Hamilton
Photo by Bob Hamilton

The Little Brown Bat deserves bronze for its extraordinary self-discipline while hibernating. In winter, these furry mammals can lower their heart rate from 210 beats per minute to 20. They are also known to go for 45 minutes without taking a breath.  As insectivores the Little Brown Bat is not able to feed all winter.  So, in late summer and early fall they catch up to 1,000 insects an hour in order to increase their weight 30 per cent for hibernation.

 

As impressive as these bats are, they are facing a new threat that is endangering their populations.

 

Silver Medal – Painted Turtle

 

Photo by D. Gordon E. Robertson
Photo by D. Gordon E. Robertson

There are three species of Painted Turtle in Canada – Western, Midland, and Eastern. All of them deserve the silver medal for their remarkable survival skills. Equipped with the ability to survive in temperatures as low as -9 ºC, the Painted Turtle buries itself in the mud at the bottom of lakes or ponds each winter. While buried, they completely stop breathing, only taking in small amounts of oxygen found in the mud through their skin. Their blood also goes through a biological process to become like anti-freeze and protect their internal tissues.

 

Gold Medal- Polar Bear

 

Photo by Steve Amstrup
Photo by Steve Amstrup

All Polar Bears are survival experts, but Polar Bear mothers are our gold medal winners! To ensure they have enough breast milk to feed their young, Polar Bear mothers gain 450 pounds in four months! To protect their cubs from the bitter winds of the North they build a den out of snowdrift. In early winter, the cubs are born and the mother polar bear feeds, protects and keeps them warm, not leaving the den until spring time.  If she were to leave during the winter months, the cubs would surely die.