|Parks and Protected Areas
Suffield National Wildlife Area - Species At Risk
Sixteen federally listed species at risk depend on the habitat within the Suffield National Wildlife Area. Nearly 80 provincially listed species are found here as well. You can learn about some of these species below!
Status: Special Concern (SARA); Endangered (COSEWIC)
More than half of the Ord’s Kangaroo Rats in Canada call the Suffield National Wildlife Area home. This medium-sized nocturnal rodent is about 26 centimetres long. Its most striking features are its tufted tail, which is often longer than its head and body combined, and its large hind legs and feet. This is the only species of kangaroo rat in Canada. A slightly different population of Ord’s Kangaroo Rats occurs in the United States. The two populations became geographically isolated some 5,000 years ago.
As its name suggests, the Ord’s Kangaroo Rat jumps from place to place to avoid prey. It can travel 1.8 metres in a single leap, reaching a height of over 40 centimetres. Its middle ear can detect the low-frequency sounds made by predators, such as an owl’s wing beats.
The Ord’s Kangaroo Rat occurs only in southwestern Saskatchewan and southeastern Alberta. Its primary habitat is actively eroding sand dunes and sand flats. Both are shrinking, partly as a result of human land uses, and may disappear within 10 years.
At the Suffield National Wildlife Area, EnCana Corporation’s proposal to drill 1,275 new gas wells includes plans for buffer zones around rat habitat. However, the rats will be attracted to the open-area habitat created by new roads built by EnCana. These roads will provide corridors for species that prey on the rats. At the same time, the non-native vegetation that will grow along the roads will provide the rats with less optimal forage.
Where to find the Ord's Kangaroo Rat:
Status: Endangered (COSEWIC)
The Western Harvest Mouse is a resourceful rodent! A nocturnal species, he uses the ground runways of other rodents, and stores his food in underground vaults.
This mouse can be up to 17 centimetres in length, and can weigh anywhere from nine to 22 grams. He dines primarily on seeds. In the summer months, however, he is also known to consume certain insects, especially grasshoppers and caterpillars.
This species is widely distributed in the western United States and occurs as far south as the interior of Mexico. In Canada, its range is limited to the grasslands of southern British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan.
Two sub-species of the Western Harvest Mouse are found in Canada. The megalotis subspecies occurs in south-central British Columbia. It is the dychei subspecies of southeastern Alberta and southwestern Saskatchewan that can be spotted at the Suffield National Wildlife Area.
At least 75 percent of the native grasslands on the Canadian Prairies have been destroyed by cultivation. Grassland destruction and degradation pose a threat to the survival of the Western Harvest Mouse dychei subspecies in Alberta and Saskatchewan.
Where to find the Western Harvest Mouse: