Endangered Species In Canada
There are many trillions of living creatures, and millions
of different kinds of animals and plants share our planet
(pg 46, Savage). Each Kind, or species, is special and
unique. But, some of these species are in danger of
disappearing forever, just as the passenger pigeon did.
When the last member of a species disappears, that species
is said to be extinct. Never again will there be another
creature of that type on the planet for eternity. In the
following essay it will be proven that Canadian Wildlife is
becoming endangered due to the actions of man.
Our Country was once filled with wildlife, and in the past,
people hunted without worrying about the future. It seemed
as though there was an unlimited amount of wildlife to be
found. But overhunting has changed this and caused the
extinction of many species.
Canadian people of the past thought that if you protected
animals from hunting, that would be enough. Today we now
know that we must also protect there habitats. This is
where they find food, water, shelter, and a place to have
their young. Even if they are not hunted, animals will die
out if these necessities cannot be met.
In this century, loss of habitat has been one of the main
caused of extinction (pg 8, Silverstein). People share the
country and the planet with all the other creatures that
live here. As human population grows, people spread out
into areas that once were wild, and they compete with
animals for living space. Mort times than not the animals
lose in this battle.
People cut down forests for lumber, clear fields for farms,
and fill swamps to build towns, highways, and factories.
Land can also be cleared for such things as mineral
extraction. Wild animals get fenced out from areas that
were once their homes. Larger animals are affected the
worst because they need large open spaces, and when these
areas shrink it is much more difficult to find food, and
live without the fear of man.
When a small lot of land is cleared for a home, not much is
affected. When a whole city is built in what was once a
wild area, an entire species of animal may be endangered.
People often see wild animals as a nuisance and drive them
away into the remaining wildland. But, as the Canada's
wildland disappears, there will be fewer places for the
wildlife to go.
Even habitats that are left intact and not disturbed by
human intervention, may infact be unsafe for wildlife
because of pollution. Oil spills pollute the oceans and
injure or kill water mammals and birds. When farmers spray
their crops with pesticides to keep insects from eating
their crops, many animals are harmed as well. Industries
send out chemicals into the air, water, and land, with no
concern about what it may be doing to the environment.
Garbage dumps leak toxic chemicals into neighbouring lakes
and rivers, also affecting birds and fish. The garbage that
is dumped straight into the ocean poisons wildlife
severely. Also, animals may mistake plastics and styrofoam
for food or become strangled by plastic six-pack holders.
Not all animals environments are poisoned by accident. Some
rancher, for example, have put out poison for coyotes and
wolves because these animals sometimes kill there cattle or
sheep. People and industries must be more aware of what
they are doing to the environment and how they affect the
wildlife in general.
Until recently, most people believed that the earth and
everything on it belonged to humans and that we could do
whatever we wa nted with any of the creatures that shared
our planet. Human activities have driven many species to
the verge of extinction, but there have been some
encouraging examples of how society can save endangered
animals. One of these is the
American bison, or buffalo.
The buffalo once was the symbol of the American wilderness.
These huge animals roamed the plains, grazing in enormous
herds. There were 30 million buffalo in the West in the
1860's. But, by 1883, hunters had killed all but 1,00 of
them (pg 14, Silverstein). Fortunately, several people had
captured some buffalo to raise in captivity. By 1890, 600
of the 700 remaining buffalo were in private hands. Growing
numbers of people became concerned that with so few buffalo
left they could soon become extinct.
There are many ways that people, working through government
and other organizations, can help save our wildlife. One is
to pass laws that prevent endangered animals from being
killed or taken from their natural habitats. Another is to
set up parks, refuges, and preserves where the wild habitat
is kept intact so that the creatures living on it will
remain undisturbed. Today there are more that 400 National
Wildlife Refuges in Canada and 3,500 wildlife parks and
refuges around the world (pg 16, Silverstein).
The Endangered Species Act of 1973 (ESA) was a giant step
toward helping endangered animals (defined as animals that
are in danger of becoming extinct) as well as threatened
animals (those that may become endangered if they are not
protected)in Canada and around the world. It established a
program that brings together the federal government, the
states, conservation groups, individuals, business and
industry, and foreign governments in a cooperative effort
to save endangered wildlife.
The ESA restricts the killing, collection, or harming of
endangered and threatened animals and makes it illegal to
buy or sell, imports or export them without special
permission. Violators can face a fine of up to $20,000 (pg
The habitat of endangered species (the land, water, and air
that members of the species need for survival, including
places where the live and breed) is also protected under
the act. Each year habitats of endangered species are
bought up with money from the Land and Water Conservation
Fund (pg 120, Savage).
The endangered and threatened species are listed by the U.S
Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries
Service. Candidates are submitted by anyone concerned about
a species of animal or plant, and information has to be
gathered to support the claim that the species are
endangered ( pg 37, Taylor).
There are more that 1,117 plant and animal species on the
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants list (Pg 65,
Silverstein). Each year about fifty more species are added.
More that 4,000 additional species are currently waiting to
be added to the list (pg 65, Silverstein). The case for
them may be just as convincing, but limited manpower and
funding have kept them from being processed for protected
status. Unfortunately, some species cannot wait for all the
red tape. According to the Fish and Wildlife Service, 300
species waiting to be put on the list may have become
extinct before they could be listed (pg 76, Taylor).
When the ESA program was set up, the goal was to re-
establish endangered species in the wild so they could be
removed from the list. Few of these species have recovered
enough thought to remove them from the list.
After a species is placed on the endangered or threatened
list, the nest step is to determine a recovery plan that
will help increase the number of animals or plants.
Measures include buying more land to preserve their
habitats or breeding the species in captivity so they can
be released. But setting up effective recovery plans takes
a lot of time and money, and only one-third of the species
on the list even have recovery plans.
Activist groups and concerned citizens have halted many
development projects around the nation to preserve wildlife
But often the bitterness is just increased on both sides of
the political battle, and the victory for wildlife is only
temporary. Realistic and workable solutions usually involve
some compromises on both sides. When people benefit by
allowing a threatened or endangered animal to prosper, both
sides win a longer-lasting victory. Compromises like this
help make re- introduction programs successful.
Scientists are quick to remind us that endangered animals
may be a valuable resource in the future. When wildlife
species are threatened or wiped out, the whole world loses.
People in Canada and many other countries are concerned not
only about their own endangered animals but also about
those in developing countries in Africa, Asia and South
Many species that share our world face frightening threats
that may ultimately lead to their extinction. But, as we
have seen, the picture is not all bleak. Today there are
more opportunities than ever before for caring people to
help in the fight to save endangered wildlife. With many
animals being brought back from the brink and new improved
recovery programs, the animals have a much better shot at
survival than they would have a decade ago.
Savage Candace, On The Brink: Endangered Species in Canada.
Western Producer Prairie Books, Saskatoon, Sask. 1989.
Silverstein Robert, Saving Endangered Species.
Enslow Publishers, inc, 1993 Taylor Dave, Endangered Species
Crabtree Publishing Company,1992