Species at Risk

Species at Risk

by Canadian Wildlife Federation
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Canadian Wildlife Federation.

There are 218 mammal species in Canada: 169 terrestrial species and 49 marine species. From the grizzly bear to the vole, terrestrial mammals face a number of threats; however, habitat loss is the largest threat to large and small terrestrial mammals. Approximately 36 per cent of marine mammals are threatened, with 78 per cent affected by accidental mortality (particularly by catch and vessel strikes).

There are 46 species of amphibian in Canada—including mudpuppies, newts, toads, frogs and salamanders—and a whopping 39 per cent of them are at-risk. Although habitat loss ranks first in causes for their decline, the combination of climate change and pollution as well as disease has contributed to their drop in numbers.

From snakes to lizards to freshwater turtles to marine turtles, there are 47 species of reptile in Canada. Threatened by habitat loss, overexploitation and road kills, reptiles are experiencing severe declines. To date, approximately 75 per cent of reptilian species are ranked as being of special concern or greater risk.

While 55 per cent of the 653 species of bird known to occur in Canada have been assessed as secure, COSEWIC has assessed 114 of the potentially at-risk species and found 71 to be either of special concern, threatened or endangered. Habitat loss is a major cause of their decline. In recent years, researchers have found dramatic declines in some bird populations, particularly aerial-insect-feeding birds; however, the underlying causes for these declines remain unknown in many cases.

There are 1,400 species of fish in Canada including freshwater, marine fishes and diadromous fishes (species that travel between salt and freshwater). According to COSEWIC, 27 per cent of Canada’s freshwater and diadromous fishes are at risk due to habitat loss and degradation. Moreover, there are 21 species of marine fishes deemed to be at risk—overexploitation being the primary threat to these species.

For more information on endangered species, go to


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