Humpback whales seen frolicking near Comox. Photo courtesy Peter Hamilton/Lifeforce Ocean Friends

Environment Week: Species we have saved in Canada

For many of us, wildlife is the symbol of nature conservation. This isn’t surprising; humans have lived closely with other living things for most of our history. We knew the names and habits of animals, and we held knowledge of the plants that would heal or harm.

Despite our ancient connection to wildlife, we have not been kind to many of the planet’s other species. Scientists have warned that we are entering an age of extinction. While past mass extinction events were caused by asteroids hitting the planet or huge volcanic eruptions, this one is the result of the environmental changes humans are causing. Because of us, up to one million species could become extinct in the coming decades. Here in Canada, over 800 species have been assessed as at risk of extinction. Bumble bee and shorebird populations have plummeted. Wild species, ranging from sea mink to the passenger pigeon to – even a moss that once only grew in eastern Ontario – are now gone forever.

But hidden within these trends and forecasts is this simple truth: We can save species from extinction. This is not a rallying cry. There is clear evidence that past generations have pulled wild species back from the edge of extinction.

I can see this evidence around me. I now witness wildlife that just a generation ago did not exist where I live. It’s the trumpeter swans that I see in a local wetland, the wood ducks that search our swamp for a large tree with a hole to nest in each spring, and even the wild turkeys that I regularly see outside my window. The promise of wildlife recovery lives across Canada in the swift foxes now found in the Prairies, the humpback whales along the Atlantic coast, and the small white lady’s-slipper in the tallgrass prairies that are now protected and managed by the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) in Manitoba.

Each species we have saved has an extraordinary recovery story. Some required ambitious reintroduction and captive breeding programs. For others, we needed new laws and policies. Often their stories unfolded over decades and benefitted from transformations in our culture and perceptions of wildlife. But they all had this in common: Behind every wildlife recovery story, there were people that cared enough to take action. Maybe people like you.

Canadian Environment Week was founded to celebrate Canada’s environmental accomplishments and encourage Canadians to contribute to conserving and protecting their environment. It’s important that we understand and celebrate these Canadian stories about wildlife recovery. This is not to dilute or distract us from the biodiversity crises, but to direct us toward a different future. These stories are just a beginning — the first chapters as we slowly change course towards a more sustainable path.

For me, wildlife recovery is powerful evidence of hope. It should inspire us. But we need more of these stories, and we need to build on their success. Wildlife recovery represents the best in people. It shows we can be stewards that make the natural world richer for ourselves and those who will follow.

Dan Kraus is senior conservation biologist with the Nature Conservancy of Canada. This year Canadian Environment Week runs from May 30 to June 5.

Just Posted

The Sylvan Lake Gulls celebrate a sixth inning home run from Nolan Weger on Sunday during a game against the Edmonton Prospects. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)
Historic opening weekend for Sylvan Lake Gulls

It wasn’t perfect, but perhaps that was the beauty of it. Fans… Continue reading

The Government of Alberta identified 115 new COVID-19 cases Sunday, bringing the provincial total to 3,089.
(Black Press file photo)
Alberta reports 100 new cases of COVID-19

The Central zone sits at 218 active cases

Three Hills RCMP recovered stolen copper wire during recent investigation near Kneehill. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Fatal ATV rollover near Innisfail Saturday

A 77-year-old man from Red Deer County died Saturday after an ATV… Continue reading

Firefighters and emergency services workers helped celebrate Barry Young’s 85th birthday at Timberstone Mews on May 29. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)
Firefighters in central Alberta make birthdays special

A fire truck arriving outside your house is not normally good news.… Continue reading

A view of Two Jack Lake in Banff National Park is shown in this undated handout photo. More Canadians are expected to leave their passports at home this summer and hit the road in Canada as the weak loonie and low gas prices prompt a deeper exploration of their own country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - Travel Alberta *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Report: Alberta losing residents to other parts of Canada

As the COVID-19 pandemic slowly winds down in Alberta, residents are continuing… Continue reading

A large number of supporters were out Saturday at a rally intended to bring awareness about including Hinduism in the grade 2 portion of the K-6 draft curriculum. As it stands now, Hinduism won’t be taught until grade 6 in the proposed draft curriculum. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)
Video: Rally to support adding Hinduism to draft curriculum draws crowd in Red Deer

The Hindu community in Red Deer came out in droves on Saturday… Continue reading

Orange shirts, shoes, flowers and messages are displayed on the steps outside the legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Tuesday, June 8, 2021 following a ceremony hosted by the Songhees and Esquimalt First Nations in honour of the 215 residential school children whose remains have been discovered buried near the facility in Kamloops, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Alberta city cancels Canada Day fireworks at site of former residential school

City of St. Albert says that the are where the display was planned, is the site of the former Youville Residential School

Barbara Violo, pharmacist and owner of The Junction Chemist Pharmacy, draws up a dose behind vials of both Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines on the counter, in Toronto, Friday, June 18, 2021. An independent vaccine tracker website founded by a University of Saskatchewan student says just over 20 per cent of eligible Canadians — those 12 years old and above — are now fully vaccinated. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
At least 20% of eligible Canadians fully vaccinated, 75% with one dose: data

Earlier projections for reopening at this milestone didn’t include Delta variant

This undated file photo provided by Ernie Carswell & Partners shows the home featured in the opening and closing scenes of The Brady Bunch in Los Angeles. Do you know the occupation of Mike Brady, the father in this show about a blended family? (Anthony Barcelo/Ernie Carswell & Partners via AP, File)
QUIZ: A celebration of dad on Father’s Day

How much do you know about famous fathers?

Germany's Robin Gosens, left, celebrates Germany's Mats Hummels after scoring his side's fourth goal during the Euro 2020 soccer championship group F match between Portugal and Germany at the football arena stadium in Munich, Saturday, June 19, 2021. (Matthias Hangst/Pool Photo via AP)
Germany clicks at Euro 2020 with 4-2 win over Portugal

MUNICH (AP) — Germany finally clicked into gear at the European Championship,… Continue reading

Fans cheer on their team during the pre-game warmup of Game 3 of the NHL Stanley Cup semifinal with the Montreal Canadiens facing the Vegas Golden Knights, in Montreal, Friday, June 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
COVID-19 concerns give way to Habs Fever in Quebec as Montreal continues playoff run

MONTREAL — The sun hadn’t yet risen in Montreal on Friday morning… Continue reading

Coronavirus cases are on the rise from India to South Africa and Mexico, in a May 19, 2020 story. (Photo by THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)
As Brazil tops 500,000 deaths, protests against president

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Anti-government protesters took to the streets in… Continue reading

A black bear cub forages for food along a salmon stream below a bear viewing spot for tourists in the Mendenhall Glacier Recreation Area in Juneau, Alaska.  (File photo by THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Bandit responsible for vehicle break-ins is a black bear

THORNTON, N.H. (AP) — Surveillance video helped police get to the bottom… Continue reading

FILE - In this April 25, 2019 file photo, Editor Rick Hutzell, center, gives a speech to his staff including Chase Cook, Nicki Catterlin, Rachael Pacella, Selene San Felice and Danielle Ohl at the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Md. The editor of the Capital Gazette, which won a special Pulitzer Prize citation for its coverage and courage in the face of a massacre in its newsroom, is leaving the Maryland newspaper. Hutzell, who worked at the Annapolis paper for more than three decades, authored a farewell column that was published on the paper's website Saturday, June 19, 2021. (Ulysses Muoz/The Baltimore Sun via AP)
Editor of paper that endured newsroom shooting says goodbye

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — The editor of the Capital Gazette, which won… Continue reading

Most Read