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Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Eh?
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Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Eh?

[caption id="attachment_24637" align="alignleft" width="150"]Image of Guest Blogger Tina-Louise Rossit,
Guest Blogger[/caption] This post was written by guest blogger Tina-Louise Rossit. One might not think of Canada when thinking of fantastic creatures; however, this country is home to many wonderful animals worthy of the spotlight! Canada’s vast, diverse territory is filled with many different ecosystems and animals adapting to their niches. Adapting to the surrounding environment is hard work, and therefore evolution sometimes presents some pretty — umm — unique traits and characteristics. Some animals have developed morphological oddities, other behave quite specifically, but all have something we can learn from! Today’s honourary species is the Star-Nosed Mole. Basically a furball meets a sea anemone, the Star-Nosed Mole has a unique evolutionary development. Can you guess what it is? [caption id="attachment_35714" align="aligncenter" width="600"]Image of Star-Nose Mole Photo of a Star-Nose Mole by gordonramsaysubmissions (CC BY 2.0)[/caption] If you guessed 22 tentacle-like appendages, you’re right. Like all species of moles, the Star-Nosed Mole is a digger. They can dig extensive underground tunnels in moist soils. Found in eastern North America, their Canadian range extends from Manitoba to Labrador. They prefer soils with poor drainage such as wet meadows, marshes, and peatlands. In the underground world, it’s pretty dark so one might think a super sensitive smelling organ would be useful, right? Sure … however, those finger-like appendages are way more useful than that. These appendages comprise tiny sensory receptors called Eimer organs, named after Thomas Eimer who discovered them in 1871. Each appendage contains over 25,000 of these Eimer organs. The localization of these sensory receptors means that it can do all — smell, see, and touch. In fact, the Star-Nosed Mole basically has a compass, antennae, thermometer, extra graspers, and communicator all literally in front of its nose! For that, Eimer organs have been noted as one of evolution’s finest developments. So, how do Eimer organs work? The moment the receptors touch things, electrical signals are sent via nerve fibres straight to the brain for processing. The brain analyses the frequency, force, and response to stimulation and then formulates the picture of the surrounding area. The process is similar to echolocation but more sophisticated. Therefore, going through a pitch-black tunnel is easy since these moles have the environment mapped out in their minds. The study of the Star-Nosed Mole and Eimer organs has opened up many exciting questions on the evolution of animal appendages and its corresponding genetic expressions. How did the Star-Nosed Mole originate? How did Eimer organs originate? Are there other animals with similar mechanisms? Should changes to the evolutionary tree be made? In the past, bones were the only available remnants to study since squishy soft-tissue organs don’t fossilize well and thus their secrets are lost. Luckily for science, new technologies such as embryonic development are now a great tool to uncover the mysteries of evolutionary adaptations. The results from studying the Star-Nosed Mole’s early development are already quite exciting. Studies show that the genetic “program” to make the star nose during embryonic development is unlike any other animal appendage, suggesting an independent evolutionary history! Once the background history is sorted out then and the how is answered, the next question is why. Why did the Star-Nose Moled evolve? What environmental conditions influenced its evolution? And what else can we learn from this little mole?

Just think of it — it took humans a long time to invent GPS and yet the Star-Nosed mole had something similar this entire time! Now, isn’t that fantastic?! Tune in next time when we talk about another one of Canada’s unique creatures!

Acknowledgments: BioKids, IUCN Red List, Journal of Experimental Biology, Natural History Magazine, Wikipedia
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Easter in the Arctic
Arctic Hare resting in the tundra
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Easter in the Arctic

[caption id="attachment_26918" align="alignleft" width="150"]Image of Blair Scott Blair Scott,
Professional Writing Intern[/caption] Blog written by professional writing interns Blair Scott and Amanda Simard. Image of an Arctic HareHow much do we really know about the Easter Bunny? Is it a bunny at all? Meet the Arctic Hare! You will find this hardy, little creature frolicking in the snow and bouncing about the tundra. One glance at this adorable, white ball of fur may well leave you wondering: Is the Easter bunny actually an Arctic Hare? In Canada, the Arctic Hare (Lepus arcticus) is found in Newfoundland and Labrador, as well as Nunavut and the Northwest Territories. During the winter, these hares are white. Come spring, their fur changes to a blue-gray or brownish colour, though hares found in the northernmost part of the range do stay white all year long. When it comes to its habitat, the Arctic Hare is adaptable. That said, it prefers a dry environment over moist or marshy areas, and it tends to avoid deep snow. You are also more likely to spot an Arctic Hare resting on the open tundra-terrain than lounging under the trees. The Arctic Hare is well-adapted to the cold and it doesn’t hibernate in the winter. Though the climate is milder in the spring and summer, this hare weathers even the harshest winter temperatures of the Canadian tundra. Numerous adaptations are responsible for its remarkable resilience. These include: [one_third] image of an Arctic Hare[/one_third] [two_third_last]

  • A thick fur coat, which provides both warmth and camouflage (blending with the winter snow or spring vegetation)
  • Shortened ears – the compact size taking up less space and conserving body heat
  • A tendency to stay grouped in herds, which offers some protection against predators
  • Their speed – they can bounce at a rate up to 60 km/h and as far 2.1 m in one launch
  • Their 360° view, thanks to their sharp peripheral vision
  • Their instinct to point their gaze upwards while resting or foraging on a hill.
  • Their large back feet, which act like snowshoes, keeping them on the surface of the snow
  • Their fast maturity from birth – Arctic Hares mature in size a couple of months after they are born and they can reproduce a year later
  • Their ability to find and dig up food in the snow thanks to their strong sense of smell – their diet consisting of woody plants, mosses, lichens, buds, berries, leaves, roots and bark [/two_third_last]This Easter, as you ponder just who hid those chocolate eggs, take a look out the window and see if you spot an Arctic Hare! Who knows? With their resilience to winter temperatures, they just might pop down south once a year to leave behind tasty treats!
Which rabbit or hare species make up your top “Easter Bunny” candidates? Let us know it the comments, or share pictures on Facebook or Twitter of the long-eared creatures visiting your backyard!
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The Buzz about Bees
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The Buzz about Bees

This blog is written by guest blogger Eric Davidson. Bees are all around us. You can spot them all across Canada, wherever there are flowers to pollinate. Bees contribute enormous value to society; their pollination is a crucial part of agriculture. According to a 2014 report by the U.S. government, Honey Bees alone contributed $15 million to the American economy—and let’s not forget about that delicious honey! Photo of a bee on a sunflower Bees in Canada Bees are very diverse; there are around 40,000 different species around the world. In this country alone, there are around 1,000 different species of bees. Some have been here for a long time, while others are new arrivals. Honey Bees, for example, made the trip with European settlers when they first came to Canada. You can also find Bumble Bees and many others. Introverts and Extroverts While Honey Bees and Bumble Bees are famous for their hives and social behaviour, many species of bee aren’t social at all. In fact, of all the different types of bee out there, only around 500 live in colonies. The others prefer to mind their own beeswax. Miner Bees, for example, carve out little nests in the ground for themselves, while Megachile Bees make their homes in dead plant stems. Conservation The number of bees around the world has been dwindling in response to numerous threats, known as Colony Collapse Disorder. While it’s a complex problem, we know that two of the main contributors are loss of habitat and use of dangerous pesticides. Environmental groups are calling on governments to ban the use of dangerous pesticides. In Canada, we are asking the government to ban neonics which impacts both birds and bees! You can help bees and birds by signing our petition today! To study how bees’ North American habitats are changing, a citizen-science project called Bumble Bee Watch is asking regular people to document bee sightings. Another group, Wildlife Conservation Canada, is working on creating captive breeding colonies of yellow-banded Bumble Bees. Photo of a bee on a purple flower Fun Facts

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A brush with the Louisiana Waterthrush
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A brush with the Louisiana Waterthrush

This blog is written by guest blogger Eric Davidson. While the Louisiana Waterthrush closely resembles a thrush, it’s actually a warbler. You can recognize this small bird by its dusty brown and white feathers, pink legs and always-bobbing tail.Image of a Louisiana Waterthrush The Louisiana Waterthrush’s habit of living along moving streams and rivers as well as their distinctive call, with the first notes of its song falling in pitch, set the bird apart from the Northern Waterthrush. The Northern Waterthrush prefers swamps and bogs, and its calls keep the same pitch. The early bird gets the worm The Louisiana Waterthrush makes a presence in Southern Ontario known with loud, ringing chirps. It gets there early in the spring before most other birds have arrived. Unlike many of its fellow warblers, the male Louisiana Waterthrush doesn’t sing at its wintering ground before leaving, but bursts into song when it arrives at its summer breeding territory. And it’s not just after worms. The Louisiana Waterthrush likes to feed on insects like beetles and ants, as well as dragonflies, crustaceans, snails, small fish and seeds. Home is where the heat is While some Louisiana Waterthrushes make regular summer stops in southern Ontario, most live south of the border. There are between 105 and 195 pairs of the species in Canada, less than one percent of the global population, which is around 360,000. Belying its name one again, the Louisiana Waterthrush can be found from Maine, Indiana and Minnesota, to Nabraska and Kansas, down to Texas, Georgia and North Carolina. To the envy of most Canadians, the Louisiana Waterthrush spends its winters in warm weather in the West Indies, Mexico and Central and South America. Image of a Louisiana WaterthrushConservation Deforestation and habit loss have caused the number of Louisiana Woodthrush to drop over the past few years. The bird is currently protected under the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA) and the Migratory Birds Convention Act. Environment Canada has released a plan to maintain the species by encouraging conservation of breeding sites and cooperation with international bodies like Partners in Flight. Fun Facts

  • The Louisiana Waterthrush sometimes takes naps in the middle of the day—birds need a break too!
  • The oldest known Louisiana Waterthrush was at least 11 years old, while the average lifespan for the birds is eight years.
  • The Louisiana Watherthrush’s distinct, bobbing walk is noted in its genus, Motacilla, which means “wagtail” in Latin.
  • The Louisiana Waterthrush is a quick eater, performing up to 10 feeding maneuvers per minute.
  • A group of warblers can be called a “bouquet”, “confusion”, “fall”, or “wrench”.

To learn more about the Louisiana Waterthrush, check out our Endangered Species Profile! 

Acknowledgments: All About Birds, What Bird, Animal Diversity Web and Widescreen Arkive.
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Canada’s environment is central to Canadians’ prosperity, says coalition of environmental organizations
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Canada’s environment is central to Canadians’ prosperity, says coalition of environmental organizations

Last week, the Green Budget Coalition released a report, Recommendations for Budget 2015, which encourages the Government of Canada to take certain measures to advance environmental sustainability and stimulate innovation and economic opportunities. "The Green Budget Coalition believes strongly that adopting the recommendations in his document will be invaluable for providing Canadians with a healthy environment, a thriving, sustainable economy and the opportunity to live healthy lives today and far into the future," said Andrew Van Iterson, Manager of the Green Budget Coalition. The report focuses on three strategic areas:

  1. Energy innovation and climate change leadership
  2. Achieving Canada's conservation commitments
  3. Ensuring healthy communities for all Canadians

[button link="http://greenbudget.ca/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Green-Budget-Coalitions-Recommendations-for-Budget-2015-November-12-2014.pdf" size="medium" target="_self" color="alternative-1" lightbox="false"]Read the full report here[/button]


Nature Canada is a member of the Green Budget Coalition. The Coalition brings together the collective expertise of fourteen of Canada’s leading environmental and conservation organizations, representing over 600,000 Canadians, to present an analysis of the most pressing issues regarding environmental sustainability in Canada and to make a consolidated annual set of recommendations to the federal government regarding strategic fiscal and budgetary opportunities.  

Toronto event celebrates women’s leadership in nature conservation
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Toronto event celebrates women’s leadership in nature conservation

November 20, 2014 (OTTAWA) - Nature Canada’s Board and staff were pleased to celebrate 75 amazing women as part of our 75th anniversary celebrations last week in Toronto. Over 90 people gathered together at the Miller Thomson law firm to meet the founding members of Women for Nature and applaud them for their positive efforts to rally around Nature Canada’s efforts to connect more Canadians to nature. Huge Dyer, representing Miller Thomson welcomed guests in attendance. He noted that Miller Thomson was delighted to partner and host this evening to acknowledge Nature Canada’s 75 years and the 75 accomplished women who have pledged to make a difference, and work together to leave a legacy of respect for Canada’s great natural heritage. Cliff Wallis, vice chair of the Board of Directors named all the founding members in attendance to a chorus of applauds and then introduced Eleanor Fast, our new Executive Director who spoke about the exciting plans for the initiative. The voices and efforts of the founding members were showcased throughout the reception including our keynote speaker for the evening, the Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario. Her Honour was also awarded with the Douglas H. Pimlott Award for her lifelong dedication to conservation in Canada and across the globe. Elizabeth Dowdeswell A special video greeting was received from Mrs. Laureen Harper congratulating her fellow founding members for their efforts on behalf of nature. With many founding members finding opportunities to meet other female leaders and re-connect with friends, the evening revolved around spirited conversation and inspiring stories. Our founding members announced the new ambitious goal to be 150 women strong by Canada’s 150th anniversary. We look forward to inviting other professional women with a deep personal connection to nature to become involved with our exciting Women for Nature initiative.   [separator headline="h3" title="Many thanks to our corporate sponsors for their generous support of the event:"]   [one_fifth]Miller Thompson[/one_fifth] [one_fifth]Canadian Electricity Association[/one_fifth] [one_fifth]ATPH[/one_fifth] [one_fifth]Swarovski[/one_fifth] [one_fifth_last]Agents of Good[/one_fifth_last]

Meet the recipient of Nature Canada’s 2014 Charles Labatiuk Scholarship Award
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Meet the recipient of Nature Canada’s 2014 Charles Labatiuk Scholarship Award

Kay Jollymore is the 2014 recipient of Nature Canada’s Charles Labatiuk Scholarship Award. Originally from the interior of British Columbia, she has recently relocated to Saskatoon to pursue a Master of Arts in Archeology at the University of Saskatchewan. “I’m very grateful to Nature Canada for supporting me as I further my studies in archeology,” said Jollymore. “I’m very excited to conduct research on a little-known area just outside Saskatoon.” [caption id="attachment_17677" align="alignright" width="300"]Eagle Bluffs - Kay Jollymore Jollymore and her husband stand atop Eagle Bluffs.[/caption] Having spent the last seven years working as a consultant archeologist, Jollymore has had the opportunity to visit many remote and beautiful places in Canada. She has fond memories of being flown by helicopter in northern British Columbia to do fieldwork in areas surrounded by stunning mountains and glacial lakes. Jollymore also counts herself lucky to have spent time doing fieldwork in the Prairie grasslands and the tundra of Nunavut. Her current research interests including investigating the region around Little Manitou Lake, an area east of Saskatoon. Jollymore’s graduate research will focus on understanding how the ecology and climate of Little Manitou Lake has changed over time and how that has impacted the people who live there. She will be working closely with Dr. Margaret Kennedy and Dr. Glenn Stuart of the university’s department of archeology and anthropology. “I really love doing field work and pursuing this Masters degree will allow me to work in more regions across the country,” said Jollymore. When she’s not collecting information in the field, Jollymore enjoys spending time in nature with her husband. They have recently picked up birding as a hobby. On their first outing with the Saskatoon Nature Society, Jollymore and her husband spotted birds that are unique to the area and the experience only further encouraged them to explore the wilderness surrounding Saskatoon. [four_fifth][separator headline="h2" title="About the award"] The Charles Scholarship Award was established through the legacy gift of Charles Labatiuk and the Charles Labatiuk Nature Endowment Fund. Charles Labatiuk was an avid nature conservationist, mountaineer and world traveler who enjoyed and excelled as a photographer, writer, gardener, and pianist. These awards were introduced to honour his life and his passion for nature.[/four_fifth][one_fifth_last]Nature Canada Labatiuk Scholarship Crest[/one_fifth_last]

Climate change pushing birds to extinction: report
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Climate change pushing birds to extinction: report

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE September 9, 2014 (OTTAWA, ON) — Climate change seriously threatens bird species across Canada and the United States according to a new groundbreaking report released today by Nature Canada’s partner organization, the Audubon Society.  The report concludes that half of all birds studied could see their populations drop dramatically on account of climate change. According to the report, habitat disruption brought on by climate change is one of the main factors pushing bird populations into areas to which they are not adapted. The report finds that climate change is happening so fast that many species simply cannot keep up. It concludes that this is likely to lead to the decline of bird populations across North America and, in some cases, outright extinction. “Canada needs to prepare itself for an influx of climate refugee species displaced by warmer temperatures, habitat loss, drought or extreme weather,” said Stephen Hazell, Nature Canada’s Interim Executive Director. “Iconic species like the Chestnut-collared Longspur and the Ivory Gull need our support right now to ensure that they have the habitat they need to survive next year but also in coming years due to worsening climate change.” Audubon’s report echoes the findings of the State of Canada’s Birds report, produced in partnership with Nature Canada, showing that many bird species are declining dramatically in Canada. For 75 years, Nature Canada has worked to protect habitat for species at risk in Canada and internationally. “All the evidence suggests that habitat loss due to climate change is going to hit hard,” said Ted Cheskey, Senior Bird Conservation Manager at Nature Canada. “To help mitigate the impact of climate change, Nature Canada and our provincial affiliates are working with local field naturalist groups and First Nations communities to steward and conserve the Important Bird Areas (IBAs) in Canada identified as globally significant.”

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[one_third][separator headline="h2" title="Media Contacts:"] Paul Jorgenson Senior Communications Manager 613-562-3447 ext 248 pjorgenson@naturecanada.ca Monica Tanaka Communications Coordinator 613-562-3447 ext 241 mtanaka@naturecanada.ca [/one_third] [one_third][separator headline="h2" title="About Nature Canada:"] Nature Canada is the oldest national nature conservation charity in Canada. Over the past 75 years, we’ve helped protect over 63 million acres of parks and wildlife areas in Canada and the countless species that depend on this habitat. Today, we represent a network of over 45,000 members & supporters and more than 350 nature organizations in every province across Canada. Nature Canada is a Canadian co-partner in BirdLife International, a global partnership of conservation organizations that conserve birds, habitat and global biodiversity. The Audubon Society is the American partner in BirdLife International. Read the full report here. [/one_third] [one_third_last][separator headline="h2" title="Multimedia resources:"]
[caption id="attachment_16133" align="aligncenter" width="125"]image of Ivory Gull Click for full-size image of Ivory Gull for media use[/caption] [caption id="attachment_16134" align="aligncenter" width="125"]image of Chestnut-collared Longspur Click for full-size image of Chestnut-collared Longspur for media use[/caption]
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Keep White Pines wind turbines out of Important Bird and Biodiversity Area, says Nature Canada
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Keep White Pines wind turbines out of Important Bird and Biodiversity Area, says Nature Canada

OTTAWA (May 14, 2014) - Ontario should refuse to authorize wind turbine development in the Important Bird and Biodiversity Area and other environmentally sensitive habitats in Prince Edward County, say Nature Canada and Ontario Nature in official comments to the Ontario Environmental Registry about the White Pines Wind Inc. project in Prince Edward County. “While it is important that the renewable energy sector continues to expand in Canada, this must not be done at the expense of biodiversity,” says Nature Canada’s interim executive director Stephen Hazell. “The Ministry of the Environment needs to send wpd Canada Corporation, the proponent of the White Pines Wind Project, back to the drawing board. In its permit application, wpd failed to recognize that key species at risk such as golden eagles and whippoorwills are present on the project site, let alone address the project’s adverse impacts and propose mitigation measures. This is despite the fact that wpd’s own consultants found both of these species on site.” The White Pines Wind Project is a 29-turbine wind farm proposed for southern Prince Edward County in the Eastern Lake Ontario Basin. Twelve turbines would be on Long Point, the easternmost peninsula of Prince Edward County, within an Important Bird and Biodiversity Area. Another six turbines are in and around an adjacent significant wetland feature. The area is famous for its wide variety of rare wildlife. The Important Bird and Biodiversity Area (IBA) program is an international conservation initiative coordinated by BirdLife International. IBAs are discrete sites that support the world’s birds by providing habitat for threatened birds, large groups of birds, and birds that need special types of habitat to survive. There are 600 IBAs in Canada and more than 12,000 IBAs worldwide. Both Ontario’s Environmental Commissioner and a Senate committee have concluded that wind projects should not be located in IBAs. In spite of this, about two thirds of Canada’s IBAs do not have legally protected status and are vulnerable to development projects like White Pines. Normally, when proponents seek to develop an area, they hire surveyors to identify its natural features and wildlife. They use this information to anticipate how the project could harm wildlife—especially at-risk wildlife. Next, they develop a strategy to minimize that harm through mitigation. wpd’s consultants visited Prince Edward County and found numerous Golden Eagles, Whippoorwills, and two Peregrine Falcons—all species at risk in Ontario. However, upon review of wpd’s environmental report, this information is nowhere to be found. “Frankly, we’re at a loss. How could wpd possibly fail to include golden eagles and whippoorwills in its Natural Heritage Assessment?” Says Ted Cheskey, Nature Canada’s Manager of Bird Conservation. “wpd must have known that the permit for the nearby proposed Ostrander Wind Project was overturned by the Environmental Review Tribunal on the basis of serious and irreversible harm to another species at risk, the Blanding’s Turtle.” The project is currently being reviewed by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment. [separator headline="h2" title="About Nature Canada and Ontario Nature"] Nature Canada is the oldest national nature conservation charity in Canada. Over the past 75 years, Nature Canada has helped protect over 63 million acres of parks and wildlife areas in Canada and the countless species that depend on this habitat. Today, we represent a network of over 45,000 members and supporters and more than 350 nature organizations in every province across Canada. Nature Canada supported the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists’ (PECFN) appeal to overturn a decision of the Ministry of the Environment to build a wind farm in a globally significant IBA at Ostrander Point. Ontario Nature is a charitable organization representing more than 30,000 members and supporters and almost 150 member groups from across Ontario. Ontario Nature protects wild species and wild spaces through conservation, education and public engagement. [separator headline="h2" title="Media Contacts"] Ted Cheskey, Manager of Bird Conservation Programs, Nature Canada, 613-562-3447 ext. 227 or 613-323-3331, tcheskey@naturecanada.ca Monica Tanaka, Communications Coordinator, Nature Canada, 613-562-3447 ext 241, mtanaka@naturecanada.ca

Why is downgraded protection for BC’s Humpback Whales an extra special concern?
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Why is downgraded protection for BC’s Humpback Whales an extra special concern?

On April 19th the federal government published an order to down-list, or downgrade protection of, the North Pacific Humpback Whale population under Canada’s Species At Risk Act (SARA). The order was published in Canada Gazette Part I, where proposed regulations gestate and briefly undergo consultation before becoming official under Gazette Part II. Until May 17th Canadians are invited to share their comments on this order here. But enough of the Civics lesson, why did this happen and what does it mean? [caption id="attachment_11066" align="alignleft" width="300"]Two North Pacific humpback whales cresting out of the water. Nature Canada, British Columbia Two North Pacific Humpback Whales off the BC coast.[/caption] It all began back in 2011 when Canada’s premier independent scientific advisory body on the state of wildlife, called COSEWIC or the Committee for the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada, assessed the available data for the North Pacific population of the Humpback Whale, found along the entire British Columbia coast and into northwest Alaska.  Based largely on an estimated increase of more than 50% in the North Pacific Humpback population over the last 64.5 years, COSEWIC determined that the species’ abundance has improved sufficiently to have its legal status downgraded from “threatened” to “special concern” under SARA. Despite what may appear to be semantics, this change has legal significance in that species that are listed as “threatened” or “endangered” under SARA receive full protection under the general prohibitions of the Act as well as legal protection of their critical habitat. The Act still applies to species of “special concern” of course, but they do not enjoy the same degree of protection as the more ‘at-risk’ species listed. Whatever this change entails, we mustn't overlook the fact that COSEWIC doesn’t make such recommendations lightly. In recommending this down-listing to government, COSEWIC was careful to note that the North Pacific Humpback population is still not in the clear and coupled with the threats it still faces, cannot be considered a “recovered” population that’s free from risk. Therefore, it still warrants the federal government’s attention under SARA, and the science firmly supports that approach. [caption id="attachment_11067" align="alignright" width="375"]North Pacific Humpback Whale (iStock) North Pacific Humpback Whale off the Alaskan coast[/caption] But what about the proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline? The Trans Mountain Pipeline? New oil tanker traffic up and down Canada’s west coast? What could these new developments, and the threats they could bring, mean for the North Pacific Humpback Whale? Surely they won’t be beneficial and with reduced protections for this population under SARA, there’s a narrower scope of potential impacts on the species and its habitat to be considered, mitigated or avoided altogether. Some critics say the government’s timing for this Order, whether it’s based on scientific advice or not, is suspect given the proposed mega-projects along the west coast. I would offer this perspective, however: the timing of this order is troubling because it demands that government keep a close eye on a species that’s not yet in the clear, and that may face new threats, all in the midst of significant government downsizing and loss of science capacity. Simply put, you can’t respond to changes in populations that you don’t monitor, and you don’t monitor without people. The timing of this government Order is unfortunate because it signals a loss of scientific and monitoring capacity for the species at the very time when threats to North Pacific Humpback Whales from ship strikes and tanker oil spills are very likely to increase. So that, in my view, is what this seemingly semantic change could mean for North Pacific population of Canada’s Humpback Whales.

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