There are many trillions of living creatures, and millions of different kinds of animals and plants share our planet (pg 46, Savage). Each Kind, or species, is special and unique. But, some of these species are in danger of disappearing forever, just as the passenger pigeon did. When the last member of a species disappears, that species is said to be extinct. Never again will there be another creature of that type on the planet for eternity. In the following essay it will be proven that Canadian Wildlife is becoming endangered due to the actions of man. Our Country was once filled with wildlife, and in the past, people hunted without worrying about the future. It seemed as though there was an unlimited amount of wildlife to be found. But overhunting has changed this and caused the extinction of many species.
Canadian people of the past thought that if you protected animals from hunting, that would be enough. Today we now know that we must also protect there habitats. This is where they find food, water, shelter, and a place to have their young. Even if they are not hunted, animals will die out if these necessities cannot be met. In this century, loss of habitat has been one of the main caused of extinction (pg 8, Silverstein). People share the country and the planet with all the other creatures that live here. As human population grows, people spread out into areas that once were wild, and they compete with animals for living space. Mort times than not the animals lose in this battle. People cut down forests for lumber, clear fields for farms, and fill swamps to build towns, highways, and factories. Land can also be cleared for such things as mineral extraction. Wild animals get fenced out from areas that were once their homes.
Larger animals are affected the worst because they need large open spaces, and when these areas shrink it is much more difficult to find food, and live without the fear of man. When a small lot of land is cleared for a home, not much is affected. When a whole city is built in what was once a wild area, an entire species of animal may be endangered. People often see wild animals as a nuisance and drive them away into the remaining wildland. But, as the Canada’s wildland disappears, there will be fewer places for the wildlife to go. Even habitats that are left intact and not disturbed by human intervention, may infact be unsafe for wildlife because of pollution. Oil spills pollute the oceans and injure or kill water mammals and birds. When farmers spray their crops with pesticides to keep insects from eating their crops, many animals are harmed as well. Industries send out chemicals into the air, water, and land, with no concern about what it may be doing to the environment. Garbage dumps leak toxic chemicals into neighbouring lakes and rivers, also affecting birds and fish.
The garbage that is dumped straight into the ocean poisons wildlife severely. Also, animals may mistake plastics and styrofoam for food or become strangled by plastic six-pack holders. Not all animals environments are poisoned by accident. Some rancher, for example, have put out poison for coyotes and wolves because these animals sometimes kill there cattle or sheep. People and industries must be more aware of what they are doing to the environment and how they affect the wildlife in general. Until recently, most people believed that the earth and everything on it belonged to humans and that we could do whatever we wa nted with any of the creatures that shared our planet. Human activities have driven many species to the verge of extinction, but there have been some encouraging examples of how society can save endangered animals. One of these is the American bison, or buffalo.
The buffalo once was the symbol of the American wilderness. These huge animals roamed the plains, grazing in enormous herds. There were 30 million buffalo in the West in the 1860’s. But, by 1883, hunters had killed all but 1,00 of them (pg 14, Silverstein). Fortunately, several people had captured some buffalo to raise in captivity. By 1890, 600 of the 700 remaining buffalo were in private hands. Growing numbers of people became concerned that with so few buffalo left they could soon become extinct. There are many ways that people, working through government and other organizations, can help save our wildlife. One is to pass laws that prevent endangered animals from being killed or taken from their natural habitats. Another is to set up parks, refuges, and preserves where the wild habitat is kept intact so that the creatures living on it will remain undisturbed.
Today there are more that 400 National Wildlife Refuges in Canada and 3,500 wildlife parks and refuges around the world (pg 16, Silverstein). The Endangered Species Act of 1973 (ESA) was a giant step toward helping endangered animals (defined as animals that are in danger of becoming extinct) as well as threatened animals (those that may become endangered if they are not protected)in Canada and around the world. It established a program that brings together the federal government, the states, conservation groups, individuals, business and industry, and foreign governments in a cooperative effort to save endangered wildlife. The ESA restricts the killing, collection, or harming of endangered and threatened animals and makes it illegal to buy or sell, imports or export them without special permission. Violators can face a fine of up to $20,000 (pg 56, Silverstein).
The habitat of endangered species (the land, water, and air that members of the species need for survival, including places where the live and breed) is also protected under the act. Each year habitats of endangered species are bought up with money from the Land and Water Conservation Fund (pg 120, Savage). The endangered and threatened species are listed by the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service. Candidates are submitted by anyone concerned about a species of animal or plant, and information has to be gathered to support the claim that the species are endangered ( pg 37, Taylor). There are more that 1,117 plant and animal species on the Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants list (Pg 65, Silverstein). Each year about fifty more species are added. More that 4,000 additional species are currently waiting to be added to the list (pg 65, Silverstein).
The case for them may be just as convincing, but limited manpower and funding have kept them from being processed for protected status. Unfortunately, some species cannot wait for all the red tape. According to the Fish and Wildlife Service, 300 species waiting to be put on the list may have become extinct before they could be listed (pg 76, Taylor). When the ESA program was set up, the goal was to re- establish endangered species in the wild so they could be removed from the list. Few of these species have recovered enough thought to remove them from the list. After a species is placed on the endangered or threatened list, the nest step is to determine a recovery plan that will help increase the number of animals or plants. Measures include buying more land to preserve their habitats or breeding the species in captivity so they can be released. But setting up effective recovery plans takes a lot of time and money, and only one-third of the species on the list even have recovery plans.
Activist groups and concerned citizens have halted many development projects around the nation to preserve wildlife habitats. But often the bitterness is just increased on both sides of the political battle, and the victory for wildlife is only temporary. Realistic and workable solutions usually involve some compromises on both sides. When people benefit by allowing a threatened or endangered animal to prosper, both sides win a longer-lasting victory. Compromises like this help make re- introduction programs successful. Scientists are quick to remind us that endangered animals may be a valuable resource in the future. When wildlife species are threatened or wiped out, the whole world loses.
People in Canada and many other countries are concerned not only about their own endangered animals but also about those in developing countries in Africa, Asia and South America. Many species that share our world face frightening threats that may ultimately lead to their extinction. But, as we have seen, the picture is not all bleak. Today there are more opportunities than ever before for caring people to help in the fight to save endangered wildlife. With many animals being brought back from the brink and new improved recovery programs, the animals have a much better shot at survival than they would have a decade ago.
Savage Candace, On The Brink: Endangered Species in Canada. Western Producer Prairie Books, Saskatoon, Sask. 1989. Silverstein Robert, Saving Endangered Species. Enslow Publishers, inc, 1993 Taylor Dave, Endangered Species Crabtree Publishing Company,1992