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Canada What these species say about the worrisome state of Canada’s wildlife

Following a ban on the pesticide DDT, the peregrine falcon has bounced back, an example of how a species can recover if the reason for its decline is addressed.

Gordon Court/The Globe and Mail

Twice each year, the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada meets to assess species and determine which should be listed for protection on the Species at Risk Act. Here is small cross section of the diverse species that were before the committee when it met in Ottawa last week.

Sockeye salmon (Fraser River)

The committee looked at 24 distinct populations of Fraser River sockeye and found that 15 of them should be listed. In theory, this should hasten efforts to preserve an iconic and commercially important fish. In practice, such fish are almost never listed because of economic considerations and political blowback.

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Peregrine falcon

In a rare good-news story, the committee voted to delist the peregrine falcon. The charismatic raptor was endangered in the 1970s because of the effects of the pesticide DDT. Following a ban on the chemical, the falcon has bounced back, an example of how a species can recover if the reason for its decline is addressed.

Grey whale

Previously assessed as a single population, the Pacific grey whale, which travels through Canadian waters, has now been divided into three distinct groups for a more accurate and useful assessment. The committee now recommends that two of the three groups be listed as endangered, while the third, largest population is deemed not at risk.

Quebec Rockcress

A rare plant found on sheer rock faces along the Gaspé Peninsula. This is an example of a species that is found only in Canada, which puts its survival entirely at the mercy of federal and provincial governments and their willingness to enforce species-at-risk legislation. The committee voted that the plant should be listed as endangered to help protect it from developers and rock climbing enthusiasts.

Twelve right whales were found dead in the Gulf of St. Lawrence in 2017 and scientist did necropsies to find out why. The 2017 deaths prompted Ottawa to implement a number of measures to help prevent further whale deaths but recently some of the measures were eased.
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