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COSEWIC Annual Report - 2006

Appendix I

Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada

Comité sur la situation des espèces en péril au Canada

Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park, Saskatchewan, May 1, 2006

More than 500 Canadian species now considered to be at risk of Extinction by COSEWIC

The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) met in the Cypress Hills of Saskatchewan from April 23 to 28, 2006. The committee considered 64 scientific reports that assessed the risk of biological extinction for a wide variety of organisms, ranging from lichens to whales. Species in danger of extinction are assigned status as Endangered, Threatened, or Special Concern, according to the degree of risk and nature of the threats.

First, the good news…

The risks to some Canadian species have lessened. Three species, including the Red-shouldered Hawk, a species that has recovered since its previous assessment as Special Concern, were reassessed as Not at Risk. The Aweme Borer, a moth that had not been seen in Canada for 70 years, was reported as rediscovered in Canada on Manitoulin Island, Ontario.

Species at Risk…

Threats to sand dune and open grassland ecosystems of western Canada include dune stabilization, introduction of exotic species, and habitat destruction. These affect a wide diversity of animals, including Ord's Kangaroo Rat, the Burrowing Owl, and a moth, the Gold-edged Gem, all assessed as Endangered, as well as a plant, the Smooth Goosefoot, assessed as Threatened.

Three species of moths, all dependent on a Threatened species of Yucca plant that is native to a restricted area of extreme southern Alberta, have been assessed as Endangered, two of them at this meeting.

Many of the world's large open-ocean sharks have declined due to overharvesting. In the Canadian Atlantic, the White Shark was assessed as Endangered, the Shortfin Mako as Threatened, and the Blue Shark as Special Concern.

Two Arctic species were assessed. The snow-white Ivory Gull, whose numbers have declined drastically in Canada, was assessed as Endangered. The Atlantic Walrus, now at very low numbers in some areas and in need of improved management, was assessed as Special Concern.

The American Eel is a fish that breeds in the Sargasso Sea and whose young then move into rivers and streams along the Atlantic coast of North America. It has declined in numbers in Lake Ontario, the upper St. Lawrence River, and some other rivers and streams in Atlantic Canada.

The Golden-winged Warbler, which has declined throughout North America as a result of habitat loss and competition with a related species, was assessed as Threatened.

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 529 species in various COSEWIC risk categories, including 205 Endangered, 136 Threatened, 153 Special Concern, and 22 Extirpated species (no longer found in the wild in Canada). In addition,13 are Extinct and 41 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-government science members and the co-chairs of the species specialist subcommittees and the Aboriginal traditional knowledge subcommittee.

Definition of COSEWIC terms and risk categories:

Wildlife Species:
A species, subspecies, variety, or geographically or genetically distinct population of animal, plant or other organism, other than a bacterium or virus, that is wild by nature and it is either native to Canada or has extended its range into Canada without human intervention and has been present in Canada for at least 50 years.
Extinct (X):
A wildlife species that no longer exists
Extirpated (XT):
A wildlife species no longer existing in the wild in Canada, but occurring elsewhere
Endangered (E):
A wildlife species facing imminent extirpation or extinction
Threatened (T):
A wildlife species likely to become Endangered if limiting factors are not reversed
Special Concern (SC):
A wildlife species that may become a Threatened or an Endangered species because of a combination of biological characteristics and identified threats
Not at Risk (NAR):
A wildlife species that has been evaluated and found to be not at risk of extinction given the current circumstances
Data Deficient (DD):
A category that applies when the available information is insufficient (a) to resolve a species' eligibility for assessment or (b) to permit an assessment of the species' risk of extinction.

For further information, contact:

COSEWIC Chair Elect
Dr. Jeffrey Hutchings
Tel (1): (902) 494-2687
Tel (2): (902) 494-3515

Past COSEWIC Chair:
Dr Marco Festa-Bianchet
Tel: (819) 821-8000 ext: 2061

General inquiries:

COSEWIC Secretariat
(819) 953-3215
www.cosewic.gc.ca

For inquiries on White Shark, Shortfin Mako, Blue Shark:

Dr.Paul Bentzen
Tel: (902) 494-1105

For inquiries about bird species:

Richard Cannings
Tel: (250) 496-4049

Dr. Marty Leonard
Tel: (902) 494-2158

For inquiries on the American Eel :

Dr. Robert Campbell
Tel: (613) 987-2552

For inquiries on the Atlantic Walrus:

Dr. Andrew Trites
Tel: (604) 822-8182

For inquiries on the Aweme Borer and the Gold-edged Gem :

Dr. Theresa Fowler:
Tel: (819) 953-6402

For inquiries on the Ord's Kangaroo Rat:

Dr. Mark Brigham
Tel: (306) 585-4255

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