Media Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Ontario's Growing List of Endangered Wildlife

Dragonfly species now designated as endangered for the first time

Toronto, September 17, 2009 - The Rapids clubtail, a small, delicate species of dragonfly that inhabits streams and ponds in southern Ontario, is now listed as "endangered" under Ontario's Endangered Species Act (ESA) as recommended by the Committee on the Status of Species at Risk in Ontario (COSSARO) a team of experts that assesses the status of wildlife in this province. This is the first time a dragonfly species has received an at-risk designation in Ontario.

Says Mark Carabetta, Conservation Science Manager for Ontario Nature, "The list of endangered species has grown at an alarming rate. Some of the most disturbing additions are species that were once common and are now on the brink of disappearing."

Ten species, including six bird species, have been added to Ontario's already long list of at-risk plants and animals under the ESA bringing the total to 194. The chimney swift and the whip-poor-will, birds that were once widespread, have been designated as "threatened," meaning that they are likely to become endangered unless dominant threats to their survival are removed.

"Chimney swifts and snapping turtles are the kinds of animals we grew up with," says Dr. Anne Bell, Ontario Nature's Senior Director of Conservation and Education. "It is shocking to think that children today will rarely come across the wildlife we saw all the time."

In a mere two decades, Ontario's chimney swifts have declined by 70%. The whip-poor-will, another newly listed bird, has declined by 51%. Although the cause of decline is uncertain, both species rely on flying insects -- which are in rapid decline due to agricultural use of wide-sprayed insecticides -- as a food source.

COSSARO has also moved seven species to higher risk categories indicating that, despite legislated protection, their populations continue to diminish. For instance, COSSARO recommends that the polar bear be designated as threatened rather than of "special concern" and that two snake species be classified as endangered rather than threatened.

"The upgrading of risk status demonstrates the need for government to produce meaningful regulations and policy to stop or at least slow down population declines," says Anne Bell. "Too many species face an uncertain future because of ecosystem loss, poaching, pollution and climate change."

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Quick facts:

- Of Ontario's eight native fresh-water turtles, seven are at-risk species and rarely seen. The dominant threats to turtles are pollution, road kill, and poaching. The range of most turtle species doesn't extend much further north than the southern edge of the Canadian Shield, so their habitat is found primarily in the most intensely developed region in Canada where only some 30 percent of the original wetlands remain.

- Nineteen of Ontario's 27 reptiles are at-risk. Only seven of Ontario's 18 snakes are considered to have stable populations.

- The Canada warbler is a new addition to the ESA and is listed as "special concern." One of the continent's fastest dwindling migratory songbirds, 85% of the Canada warbler's global breeding population is in Canada.

For more information, please contact:

Victoria Foote, Director of Communications: victoriaf@ontarionature.org; 416 444-8419 ext. 238; 647 290-9384 (cell).

Ontario Nature protects wild species and wild spaces through conservation, education and public engagement. Ontario Nature is a charitable organization representing more than 30,000 members and supporters and 140 member groups.

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