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Check out these 5 species at risk that live in York Region

By Ali Raza,
Markham Economist & Sun,
November 21 2017

York Region’s forests, grasslands — and roads — are home to several species of animals. These animals, though present in various parts of southern Ontario, make places like the York Regional Forest a frequent home.

With the help of Ontario Nature’s conservation science manager Tanya Pulfer, we’ve picked five species at risk in Ontario (the full list has 200 species) with habitats in York Region.

Eastern Ribbonsnake [Special Concern]

Ribbonsnakes resemble garter snakes except for one major difference, Pulfer says. Lines on the body of a ribbonsnake are clear, whereas garter snakes have blurry lines. They can be found at the edges of wetlands or other “edge habitats.” They’ve been seen in Vaughan, Kettleby, and King City.

Monarch Butterfly [Special Concern]

Monarch butterflies have orange wings because it warns predators that they’re poisonous. Another butterfly, the Viceroy, mimics the Monarch’s signature orange wings for the same reason except the Viceroy isn’t poisonous. Monarchs are threatened by habitat loss, as during the summer they migrate from Ontario to central Mexico where widespread logging has limited their habitat.

Barn Swallow [Threatened]

An insectivore found in grasslands, the Barn Swallow lives near open barns, under bridges and in culverts. Since the mid-1980s, they’ve declined in number — between 1966 and 2009 their numbers decreased by 65 per cent. The decline is because of a loss in available nest sites including modernizing farms and use of pesticide which reduces the insect population.

Snapping Turtle [Special Concern]

Snapping Turtles will find themselves on York Region roads during springtime. They use gravel and sand to lay their eggs and because of habitat loss they’ve made road shoulders and wetlands their homes. Snapping Turtles are harmless in the water, Pulfer says, but on land become defensive and "snap" if threatened. Ontario’s oldest Snapping Turtle is 100 years old and is found in Algonquin Park.

Red-headed Woodpecker [Special Concern]

This bird is about 20 centimetres long and lives in open woodland and woodland edges. They can be seen at the south end of Simcoe migrating south to York Region or in big tracts of forest east of Highway 404, Pulfer says. Populations have declined more than 60 per cent in the last 20 years because of habitat loss from forestry and agriculture.

Sources: Ontario Nature, Government of Ontario

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