Endangered species: Caribou comeback
The Labrador duck is long gone and the wild Vancouver Island marmot is struggling to bounce back, but the whooping crane, the swift fox and the bison are actually making comebacks. With more than 30 species already gone and over 400 species of plants and animals at risk, Canada is starting to get serious about protecting its endangered species. Let's hope it's not too late.
. A rough census by American biologist Olaus Murie in 1920 estimated the herd numbered over 500,000. Murie claimed it took 20 days for the Fortymile herd to cross the Stesse Highway in Alaska.
. Seemingly abundant and easily accessed by new highways built in the 1950s and 60s, the Fortymile herd was ravaged by hunting.
. At its lowest point the herd numbered just over 5,000.
. In 2002, biologists estimate the numbers were around 46,000.
. Prior to 2002, the last recorded crossing of the Yukon River was in 1942.
. In the interest of regenerating the Fortymile herd, both environmentalists and hunters made temporary concessions. Hunters agreed to reduce their take of caribou, and environmentalists supported the use of wolf fertility control as an innovative, non-lethal form of wolf control.
. The dominant alpha males and females from 16 wolf packs were sterilized, thus reducing the size of the pack over a span of years. Despite their reduced numbers, packs hold their territory, effectively becoming guard packs to the herd.
. The caribou comeback is not the only success story in Canada. As of 2003, fourteen species previously considered at risk by COSEWIC had recovered sufficiently to be removed from the list. Several others were stable enough to be moved to a less urgent category.
. The swift fox was designated as extirpated in Canada in 1978, but thanks to recovery initiatives was moved to endangered in 1999.
. Other species that were moved to a less urgent category include the American white pelican, the Athabasca thrift, Baird's sparrow and two different populations of Beluga whale.
Program: Quirks & Quarks
Broadcast Date: Nov. 30, 2002
Guest(s): Rick Farnell
Host: Bob McDonald
Photo: National Archives of Canada - PA 022498
Last updated: February 16, 2012
Page consulted on December 6, 2013
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