A wildlife organization says species that are at risk of global extinction have seen their Canadian populations decline by an average of 42 per cent in the last 50 years. Furthermore, Canadian species at risk nationally have declined by 59 per cent on average during that time period.
The World Wildlife Fund says Canada isn’t doing enough to protect its endangered species.
The “Living Planet Report Canada 2020” used 300 sources of data dating back to 1970, and included 100 mammal species, 389 bird species, 357 fish species and 37 species of amphibians and reptiles that are on the International Union of Conservation of Nature’s Red List of species considered to be of global conservation concern.
Some of those species are also assessed as being at risk nationally by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC).
The report says Canadian populations of endangered animals face multiple, often overlapping, threats, including pollution, habitat loss and the “increasing and accelerating” threat of climate change.
The leatherback sea turtle, for instance, listed as “vulnerable” by the IUCN and “endangered” by COSEWIC, loses more than 20 per cent of its population in Canadian Atlantic waters because of being entangled or accidentally captured in fishing gear, the WWF report says.
The Vancouver Island marmot is a ground squirrel found only on Vancouver Island; if it disappears from there, it disappears from the world.
By contrast, Canada’s population of the Atlantic puffin has increased while the global population has decreased, meaning that Canada has an important role in ensuring its survival, according to the WWF.
The WWF says Canadian intervention plans often focus on just one threat at a time, and it’s calling on the government to take a multifaceted approach to ensure the long-term survival of endangered species.
The organization says Indigenous-managed lands often better support at-risk species, and those communities should be consulted and supported moving forward.