Watch above: The province has added another bird and several fish to the threatening species list. But, as Kendra Slugoski reports, there is good news.
EDMONTON – It’s one step forward and four steps back for fish and waterfowl in Alberta.
The province dropped one species – the trumpeter swan – from its threatened species list, but it has been replaced by four others. Athabasca rainbow trout, bull trout, pygmy whitefish, and western grebe are Alberta’s latest threatened species.
The trumpeter swan, meanwhile, is now indexed as a species of special concern. While it’s still vulnerable, the species is not in immediate danger.
The province credits a collaborative effort for the swan’s resurgence.
“Government has worked closely with conservation groups, industry, municipalities and biologists to ensure the trumpeter swan had every opportunity to thrive,” said Robin Campbell, minister of environment and sustainable resource development.
“Careful management needs to continue for the swan population to continue its recovery,” he added.
For the newly threatened species, the province says recovery plans will be drawn up to protect and rebuild their populations. Provincial framework calls for this plan to “list the specific activities that will be completed to achieve the goals of the recovery program.”
To help populations rebound, the province recommends avoiding unnecessarily disturbing lakes and streams inhabited by the threatened species. The province is mandating a catch-and-release rule for the affected fish, but not a fishing ban. More information and tips on how to help can be found here.
Concerns were raised for the western grebe’s habitat after the 2005 Lake Wabamun oil spill. Some feared that the spill would accelerate the water bird’s decline in that area. That fear appears to have come true.
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It is hoped that the pygmy whitefish will not be affected in the same way. Although the population of the rare fish isn’t far from its population in the past, this fish is on the list mainly because it is threatened by oil transportation along its habitat near Jasper and Hinton.
“If a spill happens along there, we can lose that fish population,” fisheries scientist Michael Sullivan told Global News.
Threatened species find themselves in slightly less dire situations than endangered species. Endangered species are at immediate risk of extinction, while threatened species are likely to become endangered if action isn’t taken.
There are 16 threatened and 17 endangered species in Alberta.
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