Gateway Gazette

Three Species that have come Back from the Brink of Extinction

The greatest threat to endangered species across Canada can be the humans that surround them. Pollution, climate change, the destruction of natural habitats – these manmade effects are pushing many species and their environments to the brink of extinction. Despite this dire situation, there are several species at risk that have been able to thrive due to the work of organizations and agencies such as Parks Canada.

“We care for almost 265,000 square kilometres of federal land, home to approximately half of the species at risk in our country,” says Laurie Wein, implementation manager for species conservation and management at Parks Canada. “We take our responsibility of protecting Canada’s natural environment to heart and are proud of the work we have done in ensuring these rare plants and animals will be around for years to come.”

Here are three species that have made incredible comebacks in our national parks.

Atlantic Salmon – Fundy National Park

86495aHOnce numbering over 40,000, by the late 1990s fewer than 20 individual Atlantic salmon, dubbed the ‘king of fish’ for its ability to leap up waterfalls, were returning to Fundy National Park’s Point Wolfe and Upper Salmon rivers. As the threat of extinction loomed, Parks Canada, with the help of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, began a captive-rearing program.

After a decade, these recovery efforts are paying off. In 2012, more than 40 salmon, which had been released to the river the year before to spawn, were spotted by Parks Canada researchers. “That is almost 10 times what we expected to see,” says Corey Clarke, coordinator for the recovery of the king of fish project.

Newfoundland Marten – Terra Nova National Park

86495bHPrized for its luxurious pelt, the Newfoundland marten was common a hundred years ago. However, wide-scale trapping and loss of habitat had reduced its numbers to as low as 300 by the late 1990s.

Starting in 1998, Parks Canada began reintroduction efforts to bring this unique species back to its traditional lands. “The population in Terra Nova is doing well,” says Tyrone Mulrooney, resource management technician at the park. “At least 20 animals currently live in the park and we hope to increase the number of Newfoundland marten to 50 by 2018.” This hard work resulted in the status the Newfoundland Marten being upgraded from ‘endangered’ to ‘threatened’ in 2007.

Pink Sand-verbena – Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

Pink Sand-verbena, a sweet-smelling annual herb found on the west coast of Canada, had not been seen since the 1940s. But in 2000 it suddenly re-appeared at Clo-oose Bay on the famed West Coast Trail. Seizing the opportunity to help save a lost species, two naturalists collected seeds. Parks Canada then worked with the naturalists and the Canadian Forest Service to produced seedlings for reintroduction into the wild.

“With the efforts of Parks Canada and its partners, this beautiful plant that was thought to be lost from Canada has taken its first steps towards recovery on the west coast,” states Ross Vennesland, species conservation specialist with Parks Canada.

How you can help

Canadians expect their national parks to be places where wild plants and animals are safe to live and thrive. This is particularly true when it comes to endangered species that call these protected areas home. We can also be a big part of the solution. More information on opportunities to help is available at www.pc.gc.ca/eng/nature/eep-sar/index.aspx.

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