6 March 2019, Windsor ON
For Immediate Release
A new study recently published in the scientific journal ‘Canadian Field-Naturalist’ provides shocking new
evidence about the declining state of wildlife in Windsor and Essex County. Last year Jonathan Choquette, a conservation
biologist with Wildlife Preservation Canada, along with co-author Eric Jolin set out to re-evaluate the local status of reptiles
and amphibians, also known collectively as herpetofauna, or ‘herps’ for short. “Many people aren’t aware that Essex
County supports a very unique group of herpetofauna in Canada. In fact, we are home to the only Canadian populations of
three kinds of snakes and salamanders. In spite of this, the state of these animals as a group hasn’t been assessed locally
since the 1980s! With the ongoing destruction of natural habitats, as well as an increase in citizen science efforts, it was
time for a re-evaluation”, says Choquette.
The two authors went about assembling data from observations submitted to provincial databases over the last 20
years and followed similar methods applied in the 1983 evaluation, which was completed by the regional conservation
authority biologist of the time. What they found was sobering: A whopping 62% of the reptile and amphibian species
historically found in Windsor and Essex County are now either locally extinct, or have extremely limited ranges. That
works out to 13 species already lost, and another 13 species so rare in the Essex region that they are at increased risk of
going extinct locally. Snakes, lizards and salamanders were hit the hardest. This is important because extinction of a species
from Canada doesn’t necessarily happen all at once; rather, it is a process which takes place one local population at a time.
And for some species, like the small-mouthed salamander, the last Canadian population is right here in Windsor/Essex.
Where have all the animals gone? With only 6.5% natural area cover in the Essex region, loss of wetlands, prairies
and forests continues to be a major problem for these creatures. Choquette adds, “Our study identified areas of the region
where the greatest number of species can still be found, including parts of west Windsor. We recommend that conservation
efforts be focused in those areas to protect and recover the few reptiles and amphibians that remain, and, hopefully, prevent