British Columbia

Pacific water shrew disappearing from Lower Mainland

A recovery stragegy is being drawn up for the critically-imperiled Pacific water shrew, a small, elusive creature whose chief habitat is the Lower Mainland near small streams or rivers known as riparian zones.

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A recovery strategy is being drawn up for the critically imperilled Pacific water shrew, a small, elusive creature whose chief habitat is areas of the Lower Mainland near small streams or rivers commonly known as riparian zones.

The Pacific water shrew has been listed as critically Imperiled and a recovery strategy has been drafted by both the federal and provincial governments. (South Coast Conservation Program)

The proposed federal strategy to save the shrew was released last month, and outlines the need for population counts and habitat measurements through the next three years in order to try and halt further population loss over the next 10 years.

The provincial government has already pledged to protect shrews on Crown land and to require conservation measures on private lands.

The Pacific water shrew moves slowly on very short legs and its Canadian habitat is mainly limited to areas in B.C.'s Lower Mainland.

The area around Burnaby Lake shows critical habitat for the Pacific water shrew at Lubbock's Creek and Kensington Interchange. Critical habitat is indicated by the shaded yellow polygon. (Environment Canada)

Conservationists says human destruction or alteration of the tiny mammal's habitat can destroy its sources of food and leave it with no cover, making it easy prey for birds and other predators.

Though the shrew, also known as the marsh shrew, is ranked as "apparently secure" in the United States, where its range extends to northern California, the Canadian government lists the Pacific water shrew as "critically imperilled" in its Canadian range, and B.C. lists it as "imperilled to critically imperilled."

23 areas of critical habitat

B.C. habitat identified as critical for the Pacific water shrew's includes:

  1. Burnaby Lake
  2. Thunderbird Creek, Squamish
  3. Bear Island, Seymour Reservoir
  4. River Road and 80th Street, Delta
    Critical habitat for the Pacific water shrew at River Road and 80th Street, Delta, B.C is represented by the yellow polygon. The red grid highlights the general geographic area containing the habitat. (Environment Canada)
  5. North Hoy Creek, Coquitlam
  6. Widgeon Creek, Coquitlam
  7. MacIntyre Creek, Coquitlam
  8. Fraser Heights and Highway 1, Surrey
  9. Fraser Heights and S. Perimeter Road, Surrey
  10. Highway 10, B.C., Surrey
  11. Fergus Creek, White Rock
    The Pacific water shrew, whose chief habitat is primarily the Lower Mainland, is critically endangered according to a recent federal study (South Coast Conservation Program)
  12. Aldergrove
  13. Davis Creek, Fraser Valley Electoral Area F
  14. Matsqui
  15. South Clayburn and Stoney Creeks, Abbotsford
  16. Fin Creek, Fraser Valley Electoral Area E
  17. Smith Falls, Fraser Valley Electoral Area E
  18. Harrison Lake - Wolf Lake, Fraser Valley Electoral Area C
  19. Elk River, Chilliwack
  20. Miami Slough, Harrison Hot Springs & Agasssiz, B.C.
  21. Chiliwack View Road
  22. Alouette River — Golden Pond
  23. Cheam Wetland, Fraser Valley Electoral Area D

Consult the federal recovery strategy report for detailed maps outlining the boundaries of the above 23 habitat areas.

On mobile? Click here to read the federal report