Canada to Protect Slug, Whale, and Other Endangered Species
VANCOUVER, British Columbia The North Atlantic right whale, western wolverine, and the dromedary jumping-slug on Canada's Pacific coast will soon share a dubious distinction.
They are among 76 species Canadian environmental officials said they planned to add to an official list of animals and plants who are environmentally threatened or at risk of complete extinction.
The decision will bring to 309 the number of species that receive special protection, and the government is considering a recommendation to add 44 more species next year.
"This is by no means a happy announcement," said Trevor Swerdfager, of Environment Canada.
Canada's Species at Risk Act, which took full effect in June, makes it illegal to kill or capture a protected species or destroy its habitat.
Canada is home to more than 70,000 known plant and animal species, many of which are unique to the country, environmental officials say.
Some of the species, such as the wolverine, are considered only of "special concern," while the population and habitat of others, like the right whale, have declined so much they are listed as "endangered." The dromedary jumping-slug is considered "threatened."
For four of the 76 species the protection may come too late, and they are classified as "extirpated:" destroyed completely.
Officials acknowledged the public was probably unaware some of the creatures or plants existed at all.
"(Adding to the list) calls attention to these species," said John Davis of Fisheries and Oceans Canada.
Officials said three species of fish had been considered for listing but rejected. One was less threatened than originally thought, but two types of sockeye salmon were left off for "socioeconomic reasons."
The Cultus Lake and Sakinaw Lake salmon are less than 1 percent of the sockeye population, but officials said giving them special protections could have required a costly shutdown of the entire Pacific salmon fishing industry.