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
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
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,
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
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
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