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COSEWIC Annual Report - 2005

Appendix II : Press Releases

Ottawa , Ontario, November 26, 2004

Alien species threaten Canadian biodiversity

Number of Canadian species at risk increases to 455

The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) met in Ottawa on November 22-25 to assess the status of several wildlife species. The American Chestnut was assessed as Endangered. Once a common tree of southern Ontario, much valued as a source of food and building materials, it was devastated by an introduced fungus. The few chestnut trees that remain are far from each other, many cannot reproduce and several are affected by the disease.

Alien invasive species, including parasites and pathogens, threaten many of the species assessed by COSEWIC. Introduced rats destroy Ancient Murrelet eggs and nestlings in the Queen Charlotte Islands, an Asiatic fungus kills Chestnut trees in Ontario, Bullfrogs brought from the east to British Columbia displace the native Red-legged Frogs and exotic grasses choke out Swamp Rose-Mallows in Ontario. “Alien invasive species are a major global threat to biodiversity. Increasingly, they have a detrimental effect on Canada’s flora and fauna” said Marco Festa-Bianchet, Chair of COSEWIC. 

The North Pacific Right Whale, once common off British Columbia, was severely depleted by commercial whaling in the 19th century and almost eliminated by illegal whaling a century later. Only a few tens remain in the eastern Pacific and may occasionally enter Canadian waters. This whale was assessed as Endangered.

The Copper Redhorse, a fish known only from southern Québec, was assessed as Endangered.  Its population is small and declining and its habitat has been degraded by agriculture, intense human use and dams which block migration.

COSEWIC assesses the national status of wild species, subspecies, varieties, or other designatable units that are considered to be at risk in Canada. To do so, COSEWIC uses scientific, aboriginal traditional and local or community knowledge provided by many experts from governments, academia and other organizations.

There are now 455 species in various COSEWIC risk categories, including 172 Endangered, 120 Threatened, 141 Special Concern, and 22 Extirpated species (no longer found in the wild in Canada). In addition, 12 are Extinct and 34 are Data Deficient.

COSEWIC comprises members from each provincial and territorial government wildlife agency, four federal entities (Canadian Wildlife Service, Parks Canada Agency, Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and the Federal Biodiversity Information Partnership, chaired by the Canadian Museum of Nature), three non-jurisdictional members and the co-chairs of the species specialist and the Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge subcommittees.

Definition of COSEWIC terms and risk categories:

- 30 -

For further information, contact:      

Dr. Marco Festa-Bianchet

Chair, COSEWIC

(613) 296-1937

(819) 821-8000 ext. 2061

Marco.Festa-Bianchet@usherbrooke.ca

General inquiries:

COSEWIC Secretariat

(819) 953-3215

www.cosewic.gc.ca

 

 

For inquiries on  American Chestnut :

Dr. Erich Haber, co-chair,

Plants and Lichens Specialist Subcommittee

Tel: (613) 722-5523

erich.haber@rogers.com

 

For inquiries on Copper Redhorse :

Dr. Claude Renaud, co-chair,

Freshwater Fishes Specialist Subcommittee

Tel: (613)364-4069

crenaud@mus-nature.ca

For inquiries on Pacific Right Whale:

Dr. Hal Whitehead, co-chair

Marine Mammals Specialist Subcommittee

Tel: (902) 494-3723

hal.whitehead@dal.ca

For inquiries on Ancient Murrelet :

Richard Cannings, co-chair

Birds Specialist Subcommittee

Tel: (250)496-4049

dickcannings@shaw.ca

Further details on all species assessed, and the reasons for designations, can be found on the COSEWIC website atwww.cosewic.gc.ca

 

St. Pauls, Newfoundland and Labrador, May 6, 2005

500 species now considered to be at risk by COSEWIC

The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) met on May 1-6, 2005 near Gros Morne National Park on the west coast of Newfoundland.  The committee considered 41 reports in assessing a variety of organisms ranging from a tiny lichen to two species of whales.

The Bowhead Whale, a circumpolar Arctic whale that lives more than a hundred years, was separated into 3 populations. The Hudson Bay-Foxe Basin and the Davis Strait-Baffin Bay populations were assessed as Threatened and the Bering-Chukchi-Beaufort population was assessed as Special Concern. 

The Committee also assessed four species of butterflies and moths found on remnant prairie habitats. Two of them, the White Flower Moth and Ottoe Skipper received Endangered status. 

The Okanagan population of Chinook Salmon was reviewed by the Committee in response to an emergency assessment request by the Fisheries Department of the Okanagan Nation Alliance, a First Nations organization. The Committee agreed that the population met the definition of a species under the Species at Risk Act, that the population was Endangered. Changes in fisheries downstream in the Columbia River are expected this summer and constitute a new and imminent threat to this population.

Williamson’s Sapsucker, a woodpecker associated with old-growth Western Larch forests of British Columbia, was also assessed as Endangered. The habitat for this species is rapidly disappearing due to forest harvesting.

Eighteen plant species were assessed, including the White Meconella, a globally rare poppy native to Garry Oak communities of southeastern Vancouver Island. This species is Endangered by loss of habitat because of housing developments and encroachment by alien species. Habitat loss and competition with alien species continue to be the primary threats to Canada’s biodiversity, especially for those species at risk in southern Canada.

One Atlantic marine fish was assessed, the Winter Skate. The Winter Skate assessment resulted in four designations; the Southern Gulf population is considered Endangered and the Eastern Scotian Shelf population is Threatened, both due to dramatic declines in the abundance in the populations, particularly of mature, large Winter Skates in these areas. The Georges Bank-Western Scotian Shelf-Bay of Fundy population was assessed as Special Concern. There were insufficient data to assess the status of Winter Skate, Northern Gulf-Newfoundland population

The remnant native population of Westslope Cutthroat Trout was assessed as Threatened in Alberta, with the main threat being hybridization with non-native trout. The British Columbia population is considered to be Special Concern. 

The Lake Sturgeon was assessed as Endangered in western Canada and as Special Concern in the eastern parts of its range. This species has been affected throughout most of its range by a variety of threats including historical over-harvest and habitat loss from the construction and operation of dams.

Information from new studies of the Great Lakes, an area particularly rich in aquatic biodiversity, allowed COSEWIC to assess the status of several fish species including Spotted Gar, Warmouth and Spotted Sucker.

COSEWIC assesses the national status of wild species, subspecies, varieties, or other designatable units that are considered to be at risk in Canada. To do so, COSEWIC uses scientific, aboriginal traditional and local or community knowledge provided by many experts from governments, academia and other organizations. These assessments are available to the public now and will be forwarded to Federal Minister of the Environment in August for consideration for listing under the Species at Risk Act (SARA).

There are now 487 species in various COSEWIC risk categories, including 184 Endangered, 129 Threatened, 152 Special Concern, and 22 Extirpated species (no longer found in the wild in Canada). In addition, 13 are Extinct and 39 are Data Deficient.

COSEWIC comprises members from each provincial and territorial government wildlife agency, four federal entities (Canadian Wildlife Service, Parks Canada Agency, Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and the Federal Biodiversity Information Partnership, chaired by the Canadian Museum of Nature), three members at large and the co-chairs of the species specialist groups and the Aboriginal traditional knowledge subcommittees.

Definition of COSEWIC terms and risk categories:

- 30 -

For further information, contact:

Dr. Marco Festa-Bianchet

Chair, COSEWIC

(613) 296-1937

(819) 821-8000 ext. 2061

(today only) (709) 243-2608

Marco.Festa-Bianchet@usherbrooke.ca

General inquiries:

COSEWIC Secretariat

(819) 953-3215

www.cosewic.gc.ca

For inquiries on  :

Chinook Salmon: Mart Gross (709) 243-2471 (until May 10) Cell (416) 978-3838

For inquiries on  :

Williamson’s Sapsucker: Dick Cannings (709) 243-2471

For inquiries on  :

Butterflies and Moths : Theresa Fowler (today only) (709) 243-2471

For inquiries on :

Sturgeon: Robert Campbell (today only) (709) 243-2606

For inquiries on:

Whales: Randy Reeves (450) 458-6685 or Andrew Trites (604) 209-8182

For inquiries on:

Winter Skate : Jeff Hutchings (902)494-2687

Further details on all species assessed, and the reasons for designations, can be found on the COSEWIC website at:

www.cosewic.gc.ca