For National Wildlife Week (April 7 – 13) I would like to highlight five species in Ontario on the Species at Risk registry and share what you can do for wildlife. Canada is home to thousands of different species, however, we are seeing a decline in many wildlife populations caused by human development and human activities. More than 520 species are identified as Special Concern, Threatened, and Endangered by the Species at Risk Act in Canada.
North Atlantic Right Whale (Eubalaena glacialis)
- The North Atlantic Right Whale is an endangered whale who’s scientific name, Eubalaena glacialis means “true whale of ice.”
- Despite several decades of protection: no population growth has taken place and efforts have only reduced the loss of the species. This is partially due to the low birth rate as females breed once every three-five years and the calf takes the females time for two years (one year for gestation and one year for growth).
- The North American Right Whale can weigh up to 96,000kg (211,643lbs).
Allegheny Mountain Dusky Salamander (Desmognathus ochrophaeus)
- The Allegheny Mountain Dusky Salamander is an endangered salamander found by forested streams or seeps in the Niagara Peninsula.
- This species has a non-specific and carnivorous diet and eats small terrestrial and aquatic invertebrates including: snails, moths, mites, crustaceans, and beetles.
- Like few other salamander species, the Allegheny Mountain Salamander can drop their tail in order to distract and escape a predator. This practice is called tail-dropping and is very common for this species.
Little Brown Myotis (Myotis lucifugus)
- The endangered Little Brown Myotis typically live to be six or seven years old in the wild, however, a thirty-one year old individual.
- This species eats at least half of their body weight in insects each night. New mothers have been known to eat more than their body weight in a single night. Respectively, half the average weight of a single bat Little Brown Myotis only 4.1 grams.
- The Little Brown Myotis has the largest range for a bat in Canada and can be found in every province and territory with the exception of Nunavut.
Lake Sturgeon (Acipenser fulvescens)
- The Great Lakes – Upper St. Lawrence populations of Lake Sturgeon are endangered species. Saskatchewan – Nelson River populations are threatened, and the Southern Hudson Bay – James Bay populations are of special concern.
- Female sturgeon produce approximately four million eggs in their lifetime.
- Lake Sturgeon can live to be over 100 years old and can weigh 300lbs. With this long life span, it can take 15 years for males to reach maturity and 25 years for females.
Red-headed Woodpecker (Melanerpes erythrocephalus)
- The Red-headed Woodpecker is a special concern species often confused with other woodpecker species due to the red-head feature. Many other woodpeckers in Canada have red areas on their heads.
- This species is one of four woodpeckers known to store food in wood, such as trees or logs.
- Unlike most birds which are easily distinguishable between the sexes, the red-headed woodpecker male and females are almost entirely indistinguishable, even in hand.
Here are a few of the many things that you can do to benefit wildlife in your region:
Learn more about the wildlife in your area. Perhaps, reading this blog post is the first step. Take it a step further and using Google, your local library, or time outdoors to learn what is around you and what you can do to support them.
Opt for native plants in your yard. They are best to support native wildlife and are already accustomed to local soil and weather conditions. Some wildlife species are are completely dependent on certain native plants
Watch where you are driving! With Spring starting there will be more animal crossings by deer, turtles, frogs, musk rats, and other animals. Paying attention to the road, following the speed limit in common wildlife crossing areas, and stopping to allow or aid animals in crossing all benefit wildlife.
Keep your cat indoors. The predation of cats cause a decline in bird populations across Canada and is an inarguable reason to keep your cats inside this Spring season. Not only is this safer for unsuspecting birds, but also for your cats.
Make a monetary donation or volunteer with local conservation or restoration organizations. This could take form in many different ways: from donating to a local school to build a native garden or plant native tree and shrub species to making monthly or annually donations to conservation initiatives.