KEY FINDING 17. Many species of amphibians, fish, birds, and large mammals are of special economic, cultural, or ecological interest to Canadians. Some of these are declining in number and distribution, some are stable, and others are healthy or recovering.
Species of special interest are those with particular relevance to Canadians because of their special economic, cultural, or ecological importance in addition to their biodiversity value. Some groups of species, for example fishes, are important because the economy of a region depends upon them. Others, like caribou, have widespread cultural significance. These species are important because population declines often mean a loss of traditional lifestyles or a decline in economic sustainability. Species of special ecological importance play criticalroles in shaping the ecosystems in which they live or provide early warnings of ecosystem stress.
This key finding provides a brief overview of wildlife status in Canada and then focuses on amphibians, fishes using freshwater, birds, and caribou. More information on status of wildlife in Canada can be found in a complementary Canadian Biodiversity report, Wild Species 2010: the General Status of Species in Canada.1 More information on species at risk in Canada is provided by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC),2 on the Species at Risk Public Registry,3 and through provincial and territorial status committees.
Canada is home to over 70,000 wild species. The risk of endangerment has been determined for 10,332 of these species, 8,613 of which are native. Seventy-seven percent of assessed native species were considered secure in 2010 and 12% were classified as At Risk or May be at Risk. Reptiles, freshwater mussels, and amphibians have the greatest percent of species at risk at 43, 24, and 20% respectively. In addition to these 8,613 species, Canada has assessed 5 Extinct, 35 Extirpated, and 1,426 non-native species, and 253 species outside their usual ranges. The major threats to Canadian wildlife are habitat loss, fragmentation and degradation, pollution and contamination, overexploitation, invasive species, disease, by-catch, and climate change.1