August 9, 2002
(Tourism, Culture and Recreation)

Government protects 20 species under Endangered Species Act

Julie Bettney, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation, announced today 20 plant and animal species which the province considers endangered, threatened or vulnerable will now receive special protection under the province�s Endangered Species Act.

"Government is committed to protecting and preserving species which are identified to be at risk," said Minister Bettney. "We want to ensure the appropriate measures are in place to protect species which are in danger of becoming extinct. This listing not only protects the species but also its residence."

Government�s decision to list these species follows the recommendations of the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC), an independent national committee of government and non-government scientists. COSEWIC determines the national status of wild species, subspecies and nationally significant populations that are considered to be at risk of extinction across their range in Canada. The COSEWIC evaluation process is independent, open and transparent, and based on the best available information on the biological status of species including scientific, community and traditional knowledge. COSEWIC is recognized under the Endangered Species Act as one of several sources whose recommendations government considers prior to listing a species.

COSEWIC�s recent evaluations identified 20 species in Newfoundland and Labrador which are either endangered, threatened or vulnerable. The species to be protected under the province�s Endangered Species Act are:

Endangered species: American marten - Newfoundland population, wolverine, piping plover, Eskimo curlew, Longs braya and barrens willow.

Threatened species: Fernalds braya, anatum peregrine falcon, and the three woodland caribou herds in Labrador - Mealy Mountain, Red Wine and Lac Joseph. COSEWIC had recommended the tundra peregrine falcon be listed as vulnerable; however, due to the difficulty to distinguish it from the threatened anatum peregrine falcon, the possibility the two may inter-breed and that their ranges may overlap, government decided to list both species as threatened to ensure their equal protection.

Vulnerable species: Banded killifish, Barrow�s goldeneye, Fernald�s milk-vetch, boreal felt lichen, harlequin duck, ivory gull, polar bear and short-eared owl.

"Each endangered and threatened species will be protected immediately under the act," said Minister Bettney. "Recovery teams comprised of wildlife managers, researchers and stakeholders are already in place and have started the recovery planning process for these endangered and threatened species." Under the legislation, recovery plans are required within a year for endangered species and within two years for threatened species. In a number of cases, recovery plans have already been completed.

Vulnerable species are usually sufficiently protected under other acts and regulations and therefore are not afforded the same level of protection under this act. However, if extra protections are necessary, regulations may be developed. Furthermore, the legislation states that management plans are required within three years for these species.

"Newfoundland and Labrador is home to some very unique and distinct species," said Minister Bettney. "We need to ensure that appropriate measures are taken to protect and preserve our diverse natural heritage for future generations."

Media contact: Carmel Turpin, Communications (709) 729-0928.


Species listed under the Endangered Species Act


Endangered Species:

American marten - Newfoundland population (Martes americana atrata)
The American marten is a member of the weasel family. It has a slender body with short limbs and a long bushy tail. Its fur is soft and dense, yellowish brown, darker on the tail and legs and lighter on the belly. It has a pale buff patch on the throat.

The American marten, also known as the pine marten, Newfoundland marten or marten cat, is endangered only on the island of Newfoundland. Most of the population occurs in the area of Little Grand Lake with other smaller populations located at Red Indian Lake, Glover Island, Main River and Terra Nova National Park.

Wolverine - eastern population (Gulo gulo)
The wolverine, a native mammal to Labrador, resembles a small bear with a bushy tail. It has long, dark brown fur. Two yellowish stripes start at the head and meet at the rump. It can weigh between 15 and 25 kg. It is the largest mustelid in the province.

The eastern population of the wolverine is thought to range throughout northern Quebec and most of Labrador. Historically wolverine were trapped throughout most of Labrador, however numbers of animals trapped declined early in the 20th century. There have been no confirmed records in Labrador since the 1950s, although there continues to be occasional unconfirmed sightings.

Piping Plover (Charadrius melodus melodus)
The Piping Plover is a small, thrush-sized shorebird. It is the colour of dry sand with a distinctive black breast band, a black band above the forehead and a partially black tail. It has a white rump and bright orange legs. It has a short, stout bill which is orange and has a black tip. It has a distinctive peeping call.

In Newfoundland, the piping plover is only found on beaches of the southwest coast ranging from the Stephenville Crossing area in the north to Burgeo on the south coast. There are approximately 44 adult piping plovers nesting in Newfoundland.

Eskimo Curlew (Numenius borealis)
The Eskimo curlew is a mottled, brownish shorebird with long legs and a fairly long, thin, slightly down-curving bill. Its upper parts are brown while its breast and abdomen are buff. It has solid brown and cinnamon coloured underwings. It resembles a whimbrel but is much smaller (pigeon-sized).

The Eskimo curlew nests in the Northwest Territories and winters in South America. During its fall migration, it passes through Newfoundland and Labrador where it stays for a brief period on the coastal barrens. There it fattens up on berries such as the crowberry prior to making its long migratory flight south. Total numbers are unknown and sightings, even unconfirmed ones, have been extremely rare.

Long�s Braya (Braya longii)
The Long�s braya is a small perennial plant member of the mustard family. It has a deep taproot, a rosette of fleshy, linear leaves and erect flowering stalks up to 10 cm high. The four-petaled flowers are white with a tinge of violet. The fruit is an elongate, usually hairless, capsule.

The Long�s braya is endemic to the northwest coast of the Great Northern Peninsula. It is restricted to several small populations in a narrow band of limestone barren found along the coast. This plant has never been found anywhere else in the world. It is one of a unique set of species adapted to the harsh climate conditions and natural processes that characterize the coastal limestone barrens of the Strait of Belle Isle.

Barrens Willow (Salix jejuna)
The barrens willow is also known as the barren willow, insignificant willow and Belle Isle dwarf willow. It is a dwarf, prostate shrub. It has small, rounded, hairless leaves with a waxy upper surface.

Barrens willow is found on the northwest coast of the Great Northern Peninsula. It is restricted to a narrow band of limestone barren stretching along the coast near the tip of the peninsula. This plant has never been found anywhere else in the world. It is one of a unique set of species adapted to the harsh climate conditions and natural processes that characterize the coastal limestone barrens of the Strait of Belle Isle.

Threatened species:

Fernald�s Braya (Braya fernaldii)
The Fernald�s braya is a small perennial plant member of the mustard family. It has a deep taproot, a rosette of fleshy, linear to spatulate leaves and erect flowering stalks, up to seven cm high. The four-petaled flowers are white to pink. The fruit is an elongate, usually hairy, capsule.

Fernald�s braya is endemic to the northwest coast of the Great Northern Peninsula. It is restricted to the narrow band of limestone barren found along the coast. This plant has never been found anywhere else in the world. It is one of a unique set of species adapted to the harsh climate conditions and natural processes that characterize the coastal limestone barrens of the Strait of Belle Isle.

anatum Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus anatum)
The adult peregrine falcon is a crow-sized falcon with females weighing about one kg. It has a black stripe below the eye with bluish-grey upper parts and buff with brown bars on the sides and thighs, and spots on the abdomen.

The peregrine falcon nests along the coast of Labrador from Table Bay to Cape Chidley and along a number of the major rivers which offer suitable habitat. The anatum peregrine falcon which shares the area with the tundra peregrine falcon is thought to occupy that part of the Labrador peninsula south of the tree line. The peregrine is a bird of many superlatives. It flies the fastest, migrates great distances and lives in spectacular landscapes. Because of this, and the fact that it was at one point on the brink of extinction, it has become a symbol of wilderness, endangerment and now recovery.

tundra Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus tundrius)
The tundra peregrine falcon is very similar to the anatum peregrine falcon, but are smaller. It ranges throughout the northern tundra. In Labrador, it is thought to nest as far south as the tree line, however, its exact range remains to be determined. Tundra peregrines migrate to South America during the winter.

Woodland Caribou (Rangifer tarandus caribou)
The threatened status applies to three populations of the woodland caribou in this province: The Mealy Mountain, Red Wine and the Lac Joseph Herds. The Mealy Mountain Herd can be found in the Mealy Mountains and adjacent areas, immediately south of Lake Melville. The range for the Red Wine Herd is the Red Wine Mountains and as far south as the Churchill River. The Lac Joseph Herd is found in the Lac Joseph area of western Labrador.

The woodland caribou is one of the most primitive members of the deer family. It has a large, blond muzzle, well-covered with fur, short wide ears and a small heavily furred tail. Its compact body is covered with thick and long fur. It has large crescent-shaped, cloven hooves which are adapted to walking in snow and bogs.

Vulnerable species:

Banded Killifish (Fundulus diaphanus)
The banded killifish is a small fish with an elongated and slender body which is slightly flattened at the back of the head. Its back is dark brown to olive green while its sides are silvery or yellowish and its underparts are white bars. Average length is 75 mm.

This little fish, similar to a mummichog, is known from a limited number of sites in the province - on the west and northeast coasts and the Burin Peninsula. It is isolated from mainland populations and is now being looked at as a possible sub-species.

Barrows Goldeneye (Bucephala islandica)
The Barrows goldeneye is a medium-sized diving duck. Males weigh about 1,127 g. They have a contrasting black and white plumage with a purplish black head and a white crescent-shaped patch at base of bill. Females have a chocolate brown head, greyish brown back and whitish flanks and belly.

This duck represents an important proportion of the wintering waterfowl population in the St. Lawrence estuary. While it breeds in Quebec, it is possible that some breeding may also occur on the island of Newfoundland. Molting groups have been found as far north as Little Ramah Bay in Labrador. It winters in the Gulf of St. Lawrence with small numbers along the Atlantic coast including the coast of the island of Newfoundland.

Fernald�s Milk-vetch (Astragalus robbinsii var. fernaldii)
The Fernald�s milk-vetch is a perennial, herbaceous plant that grows in small clumps. It is a member of the pea and bean family. The leaves are alternate and compose of nine to 17 hairy leaflets. Flowering stalks borne along the stem bear 10-20 small flowers each. The petals are purple to lilac, rarely white. The hairy pod with its short stalk is distinctive.

Fernald�s milk-vetch is known only from the Strait of Belle Isle region of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The bulk of the known population occurs in the Blanc Sablon area of Quebec. Similar habitats occur in Southern Labrador. A disjunct population of Fernald�s milk-vetch is known from the highlands of St. John on the Northern Peninsula where it was recently rediscovered. It is associated with exposed, calcareous habitats, which are relatively rare in Labrador and on the island of Newfoundland.

Harlequin Duck (Histrionucus histrionucus)
The harlequin duck is a small subarctic sea duck. Males have a slate blue plumage, chestnut sides and streaks of white on the head and body. The crown has a black stripe with a chestnut stripe on either side. The belly is slate grey. Females are a plain, brownish-grey with patches of white behind, below and in front of the eye.

The eastern population breeds mostly in Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador. It winters along the eastern seaboard of the U.S.A., the Atlantic provinces and Greenland. Cape St. Mary�s is the main wintering site in this province. This little, colourful duck is known locally as "Lords and Ladies".

Ivory Gull (Pagophila eburnea)
The ivory gull is a small, blacklegged seabird and is the only gull with all white plumage. Immature birds have a black face and chin and black spots speckled along the wings and tail. This gull breeds in high-Arctic coastal areas. It winters primarily in Arctic seas though it may be seen along the Atlantic coast, including the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Polar Bear
The polar bear is a large creamy white bear with a long body, long neck, narrow head and very small ears. The foot pads are covered with fur. Claws and tongue are black and the eyes are brown. The males are larger than the females.

In Canada, the polar bear occupies ice-covered areas from Labrador to the Alaskan border. It occasionally moves south to the island of Newfoundland, usually on spring ice but moves north again. It is the largest mammalian predator in the north. The polar bear inspires both awe and respect and in recent years have become the early warning for the effects of global warming.

Short-eared Owl (Asio flammeus)
The short-eared owl is a medium-sized, buffy-white owl with short ear tufts. Its upper parts are broadly but softly streaked. It has narrow brown streaks on its abdomen. It has yellow eyes and a black patch near the wrist under the wing. In Newfoundland and Labrador it is found primarily in coastal areas and other open habitats. It is one of our few native owl species.

Boreal Felt Lichen (Erioderma pedicellatum)
The boreal felt lichen is an epiphytic lichen which grows on trunks and branches of trees in moist, mature forests. Its preferred host is balsam fir. The leafy thallus is gray on the upper surface and white underneath. The edges of the thallus curl upward, giving the lichen a unique, white-fringed appearance when viewed from a distance.

The boreal felt lichen grows in suboceanic forest regions of Newfoundland. The known population is concentrated in two areas - the central Avalon and Bay d�Espoir. This species is the only known boreal member of an otherwise strictly tropical group of lichens of very ancient origin. It once had a global Amphi-Atlantic distribution with populations occurring in Scandinavia and in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. It appears the species is now absent from Scandinavia and has experienced drastic declines in the Maritimes. The health of the Newfoundland population is pivotal to the global survival of the species. In addition, the boreal felt lichen can be an excellent indicator to monitor changes in air quality; it is one of our lichen species with the highest degree of sensitivity to air pollution.

2002 08 09                              10:45 a.m.

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