Half of Cana­dian wildlife de­clin­ing, says new re­port

Penticton Herald - - NEWS -

An ex­ten­sive sur­vey of 903 species of Cana­dian birds, fish, mam­mals, rep­tiles and am­phib­ians over more than four decades has found that half of them are in se­ri­ous pop­u­la­tion de­cline.

De­clin­ing species lost a to­tal of 83 per cent of their numbers be­tween 1970 and 2014, says the re­port re­leased to­day by the World Wildlife Fund. Species pro­tected by fed­eral leg­is­la­tion shrank nearly as quickly as those that weren’t.

“In gen­eral terms, the Species At Risk Act does not seem to have made any dif­fer­ence,” said WWF pres­i­dent David Miller. “There’s an in­cred­i­ble ur­gency to re­verse the de­cline.”

The Liv­ing Planet In­dex could be the most com­pre­hen­sive as­sess­ment of wildlife numbers in Canada.

The or­ga­ni­za­tion looked at 3,689 dif­fer­ent pop­u­la­tions of 386 kinds of birds, 365 fish species, 106 dif­fer­ent mam­mals and 46 rep­tiles and am­phib­ians. It com­bined more than 400 data sets from gov­ern­ment, academe, in­dus­try and ci­ti­zen sci­ence us­ing a peer-re­viewed method de­vel­oped by the Zoo­log­i­cal So­ci­ety of Lon­don.

Over­all numbers for all 903 species de­creased by eight per cent over the 44 years stud­ied.

A to­tal of 45 species were sta­ble and 407 in­creased. Many of those ben­e­fited from large-scale con­ser­va­tion mea­sures.

Wa­ter­fowl, which in­creased by 54 per cent, have en­joyed wide­spread wet­land preser­va­tion. Birds such as fal­cons are no longer harmed by DDT and grew by 88 per cent.

Oth­ers on the in­crease were gen­er­al­ist species such as deer or geese that live well along­side hu­mans.

The sur­vey found a fa­mil­iar com­bi­na­tion of rea­sons for de­clin­ing pop­u­la­tions: habi­tat loss, climate change, in­va­sive species and pollution.

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