Endangered animals are not just exotic species – they can be big OR small, and are disappearing right from our back yards. Here are 10 facts about endangered animals. Which ones were a surprise for you?
#1. The eastern loggerhead shrike (Lanius ludovicianus) has figured out a way to broaden their meal options to include poisonous insects and reptiles that other birds wouldn’t dare touch. Shrikes impale their food on the spines or barbs of trees and fences. By doing this they can leave poisonous prey out for a few days while the active poison breaks down, and come back to enjoy a safe treat. Learn some of the other things that make the shrike a unique songbird.
#2. The Oregon spotted frog (Rana pretiosa) is Canada’s most endangered amphibian. There are only a few hundred breeding individuals left in the wild. We’ve partnered with the Greater Vancouver Zoo to breed and headstart frogs to bolster the wild population. Check out this video about the conservation program.
#3. Bumble bees feed on nectar using a long tongue called a proboscis. The yellow-banded bumble bee (Bombus terricola) has a relatively short proboscis compared to some of its fellow bumble bee species so it will sometimes commit “nectar robbery” on flowers with longer petals. The bee will hold on to the flower with its legs and pierce the base of the petal and suck out the nectar with its proboscis. A great behavioural adaptation for this species at risk! Learn more about native pollinators.
#4. Massasauga rattlesnakes (Sistrurus catenatus) are the only remaining venomous snake in Ontario, getting its common name from a term in the Ojibwe language meaning “great river-mouth”. The massasauga has faced wide spread persectution, despite the fact that it poses little threat. In First Nations traditions it is the medicine keeper of the land. Learn how we are saving the endangered massasauga rattlesnake.
#5. One third of the food that we eat is the result of pollination, and ninety percent of all flowering plants can’t reproduce without the help of pollinators. There are more than 800 wild bee species native to Canada, but they are declining and some have may have disappeared. You can help by joining community scientists by sighting and uploading your photos. Find out more about Bumblebeewatch.org
#6. The conservation breeding program for the Taylor’s checkerspot butterfly (Euphydryas editha taylori) raises and releases hundreds of caterpillars each year. But numbers were not that high when the program first began. The whole program started with just 18 eggs that were collected from the wild, resulting in a dozen caterpillars and laying the foundation for thousands more each year. Watch this video about recent conservation work with this butterfly on Denman Island.
#7. The cause of a species’ decline is often a mystery but technology is giving us new clues. Thanks to a growing network of radio telemetry towers, which collect data about any nearby radio tagged birds, we can begin to track movements of endangered species like the eastern loggerhead shrike. The towers capture signals from all birds that pass by and one of our towers in Napanee detected a gray-cheeked thrush that came all the way from Colombia! See what other techniques we are using to help shrikes.
#8. There is an international list of threatened species called the IUCN Red List that has information about the conservation status of hundreds of thousands of species across the globe. The list has assessments for Canadian species, from tiny fungi to large mammals. You can search their site for any species that you might be interested in learning more about.
#9. Western painted turtle (Chrysemys picta bellii) is BC’s only remaining native pond turtle, and can live to well over 50 years old – if they can survive infancy. To save this population experts recommend protecting nests, artificially incubating nests, headstarting young turtles for release and establishing a conservation breeding program. Since 2019, WPC has reared and released over 600 western painted turtles, and initial results suggest these individuals are thriving in the wild. Read about this spring’s releases.
#10. The echo parakeet (Psittacula eques) is only found on the island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean and was down to the last 12 birds in the wild until an intensive conservation breeding program brought them back from extinction. Each year for the last 31 years, WPC has granted a Canada’s New Noahs internship to a young Canadian biologist to travel to Mauritius. While there, they work within a conservation recovery program to save the echo parakeet and other endangered species from extinction. Read about their adventures.
Wildlife Preservation Canada is the last defence for endangered species. WPC is the only national organization providing direct, hands-on intervention for multiple species in multiple recovery efforts across the country. Animals across Canada are at risk and disappearing from our waters, forests, fields and neighbourhoods. This is a large job to tackle, and one we can’t do alone. Find out how you can help.