Species at Risk Act annual report for 2011: chapter 5

5 Recovery Implementation

5.1 Protection of Critical Habitat

SARA requires that all critical habitat identified in a recovery strategy or action plan be protected against destruction on federal lands. This includes critical habitat located in the exclusive economic zone or on the continental shelf of Canada.

The provinces and territories are primarily responsible for the management of non-federal lands, natural resources and wildlife located on those lands, including protection of the habitat of species at risk on non-federal lands (other than aquatic species) and implementation of protection measures through their own legislation and programs. The prohibitions set out in subsection 617 of SARA only apply to non-federal lands when the Governor in Council makes an order, commonly referred to as a safety-net order. The Minister may only recommend a safety-net order to the Governor in Council if the Minister is of the opinion that the laws of the province or territory do not effectively protect a species' critical habitat.

In 2010, Environment Canada protected critical habitat for the Prothonotary Warbler in Big Creek National Wildlife Area, finalized the development of a ministerial order to protect critical habitat for the Roseate Tern on federal lands and waters in Nova Scotia, and engaged numerous federal departments in discussions on issues related to critical habitat protection. In addition to these efforts directed toward the protection of critical habitat on federal lands, Environment Canada also developed an approach to facilitate the assessment of critical habitat protection on non-federal lands and collaborated with provincial and territorial governments on critical habitat protection. Efforts are ongoing to formalize other aspects of critical habitat protection on lands under the administration of Environment Canada, other federal departments and provincial and territorial governments.

In 2011, Fisheries and Oceans Canada advanced the development of ministerial orders, known as Protection Orders, prohibiting destruction of habitat for five species: Nooksack Dace, Lake Chubsucker, North Atlantic Right Whale, Northern Bottlenose Whale (Scotian Shelf population), and Inner Bay of Fundy Atlantic Salmon. It is expected that these protection orders will come into force in 2012. Work has also advanced on the development of a draft compliance strategy for implementation of the Nooksack Dace and Inner Bay of Fundy Atlantic Salmon protection orders.

The critical habitat on lands administered by the Parks Canada Agency must be legally protected within 180 days of its identification. In 2011, the Agency protected critical habitat for five species in three of its protected heritage areas: Waterton Lakes National Park (Bolander's Quillwort); St. Lawrence Islands National Park (Deerberry); and Point Pelee National Park (Eastern Prickly Pear Cactus, Red Mulberry and American Water-willow). Efforts are ongoing to finalize protection measures for critical habitat of other species on lands administered by the Agency.

5.2 Recovery Activities

5.2.1 Competent Departments' Recovery Activities

In 2011, Environment Canada biologists across Canada led or supported dozens of activities, including research projects, education and awareness, habitat restoration or enhancement initiatives, monitoring, assessment, and more. These activities supported the recovery of numerous species at risk, ranging from birds such as the Loggerhead Shrike in Ontario and the Marbled Murrelet in British Columbia to plants such as American Ginseng in Quebec. For example:

  • In Atlantic Canada, efforts continued to conserve the Roseate Tern through habitat improvements, predator deterrence, research on key conservation topics, and monitoring since 1998.
  • Since 2007, 33 Piping Plover chicks have been banded at three locations in Ontario. Banding provides critical information for recovery when the birds are resighted.
  • Direct monitoring of Horsetail Spikerush and its critical habitat on the Long Point National Wildlife Area continued. In addition, a water level logger was deployed and a beaver baffle installed to monitor and mitigate the threat to this plant of rising water levels at its only known location in Canada.

For several years, recovery biologists in Quebec have been working with Attention FragÎles, a local non-governmental organization, to document the reproduction biology of Piping Plovers, with the support of systematic inventories. This will help to ensure protection during the nesting period on the beaches of the Magdalen Islands, through different stewardship and awareness actions.

The Marine Mammal Response Program aids marine mammals and sea turtles in distress. Fisheries and Oceans Canada works in close collaboration with researchers, non-governmental organizations, community groups and other experts to focus on outreach, training, communication among program partners, improved reporting of incidents, and increased response to incidents. In 2011, the Marine Mammal Response Program responded to 234 species at risk related incidents where marine mammals and sea turtles were reported as being in dangerous situations, such as entanglement. An example of a disentanglement operation that resulted in the successful release of a juvenile threatened Humpback Whale near Kitimat, British Columbia is highlighted in the story below.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada continues to work with the coastal First Nations communities, fishery officers and scientists in a coordinated effort to recover the Northern Abalone. As a gourmet delicacy in some cuisines, market demand is believed to exceed global market supply, making abalone a highly valuable commodity and a target for illegal harvesting. Abalone populations are declining and some of the recovery actions underway include stopping illegal harvesting (which has resulted in charges under SARA), increasing reporting of such incidents, and supporting stewardship in communities. With the support of Aboriginal Fund for Species at Risk (AFSAR) funding, monitoring within the coastal areas has been continuous and communities are now assisting in recovery actions to rebuild the abalone populations. In conjunction with coastal communities and fisheries officers, Fisheries and Oceans Canada will be implementing aggregation activities, where abalone are placed in close proximity in order to increase reproductive success.

Another aquatic species success story focuses on efforts to reestablish the Striped Bass (St. Lawrence Estuary population) in Quebec. In the late 1960s, this species was heavily exploited by commercial and sport fishing which led to its extirpation. A few years ago, Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Ministère des Ressources naturelles et de la Faune du Québec successfully reintroduced the Striped Bass population to the St. Lawrence estuary. Since then, various initiatives have been implemented to promote the recovery of this population, including a recovery strategy published in October 2011, a monitoring network, a telemetry study and other research projects such as surveys, mark-recapture, radio tracking and the designation of a critical habitat for juveniles. These efforts have confirmed that this population is again reproducing naturally in the St. Lawrence.

In 2011, the Parks Canada Agency continued to support the implementation of recovery activities in and around protected heritage places, including research, restoration activities, and public outreach and education. The Parks Canada approach integrates public and stakeholder involvement with direct recovery actions.

Several projects are conducted in partnership with non-governmental organizations, private citizens, and Aboriginal communities, such as training Inuit students to monitor species at risk at Torngat Mountains National Park. In 2011, in national parks across Canada, over 800 volunteers recorded over 12 000 hours dedicated to projects related to species at risk. This included Piping Plover monitoring in Prince Edward Island National Park; Garry Oak Ecosystem restoration at Gulf Islands National Park (B.C.); Peregrine Falcon surveys at Vuntut National Park (Yk.) and at Pukaskwa National Park (Ont.); and Black-footed Ferret and Sage Grouse monitoring at Grasslands National Park (Sask.).

Black-footed Ferret Update from Grasslands National Park

The first introduction of Black-footed Ferrets to re-establish a population in Canada occurred in Grasslands National Park in October 2009. Their survival over the harsh Saskatchewan winters was a major concern and required careful monitoring of the ferrets during their first winter. The effort was rewarded by the sighting of young kits, which confirmed not only their survival but better yet, their breeding success. Since 2010, monitoring volunteers have recorded four wild-born ferret families exploring their nocturnal habitat at four different prairie dog colonies. The discovery of new families is confirming how quickly the ferrets are adapting to their new home on the Canadian prairies. Volunteers enjoyed this unique experience of roaming a prairie landscape at night and were greatly appreciated by park staff for their hard work and dedication to this project.

In 2011, on the occasion of the third release of Black-footed Ferrets, Parks Canada invited over 60 school students along with representatives from the Calgary and Toronto zoos to participate in the reintroduction of 15 Black-footed Ferrets to their new prairie home. This brings the total number of individuals released in the park to 64. From volunteers participating in the intensive night-time spotlighting program, to school students engaging in experiential learning through their involvement with the releases, the Black-footed Ferret is bringing Canadians together to help restore the prairie landscape.

Black-footed Ferrets being brought to their new prairie home. © Parks Canada Agency

Black-footed Ferrets being brought to their new prairie home. © Parks Canada Agency

Piping Plover Captive Rearing in Kouchibouguac National Park

This Piping Plover captive rearing project is the first of its kind in eastern North America and is funded by Parks Canada. It is a cooperative effort between Parks Canada, the Magnetic Hill Zoo (MHZ) and Wildlife Preservation Canada to salvage abandoned plover eggs from beaches in Prince Edward Island and Kouchibouguac National Parks of Canada.

Once a plover nest is confirmed abandoned, the eggs are collected and transported to the MHZ in Moncton, New Brunswick, to be incubated and brooded. In 2011, the chicks were transported to an outdoor flight pen in Kouchibouguac National Park. An unobstructed view of the flight pen from a nearby boardwalk brought many questions from park visitors, resulting in countless educational opportunities. In total, five healthy Piping Plover chicks were released from eggs that otherwise would have been lost to the population. Through this collaborative partnership, Park staff developed the protocols necessary to make captive rearing a viable tool with the potential to aid in the recovery of Piping Plovers. This was a great conservation initiative, but also a remarkable public awareness opportunity.

In recognition of their successful initiative with the endangered Piping Plover, Parks Canada and Magnetic Hill Zoo received the 2011 Colonel G.D. Dailley Award, recognizing achievements in programs that lead to the long-term survival of at-risk animal species or populations, at the Canadian Association of Zoos and Aquariums Annual General Meeting.

Piping Plover in an outdoor flight pen. © Parks Canada Agency

Piping Plover in an outdoor flight pen. © Parks Canada Agency

Freeing a trapped Humpback Whale

On August 18, 2011, the British Columbia Marine Mammal Response Network received a report from Gil Island whale researchers that a distressed Humpback Whale was trailing a long gillnet. It was evident from photographs that the whale would soon drown.

Three fishery officers, local whale researchers, and members of Hartley Bay First Nations joined in the search. Three hours and 12 humpback sightings later, the distressed whale was found. It was massive -- 30 feet long -- and had several loops of net wrapped tightly around its head, preventing it from opening its mouth. The team initiated a disentanglement effort that continued for eight hours.

The power and endurance of the whale was amazing. It towed the rescuers' boat at six to seven knots for several hours until it began to tire and slowed to two knots, allowing the team to initiate the disentanglement. The rescuers slowly cut the training gear off and once they reached the area around the whale's head, used specialized tools to carefully remove the ropes that had cut into the whale's blubber. The high-pitched blows coming from the whale signaled its exhaustion. The rest of the gear was peeled away and the whale broke free, swimming off quickly, with its new-found freedom.

© Janie Wray, Cetacean Research Program, Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Freeing a Humpback Whale from a fishing net. © Janie Wray, Cetacean Research Program, Fisheries and Oceans Canada

5.2.2 Other Recovery Activities Habitat Stewardship Program

The federal Habitat Stewardship Program (HSP) for Species at Risk was established in 2000 as part of the National Strategy for the Protection of Species at Risk. The program's goal is to engage Canadians in conservation actions that contribute to the recovery of species at risk, with priority given to endangered and threatened SARA-listed species. Projects focus on three key areas:

  • securing or protecting important habitat to protect species at risk and support their recovery;
  • mitigating threats to species at risk caused by human activities; and
  • supporting the implementation of priority activities in recovery strategies or action plans.

The Habitat Stewardship Program is co-managed by Environment Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Parks Canada Agency, and administered by Environment Canada on a regional basis. Regional implementation boards include representatives from the two federal departments and the Agency, provincial and territorial governments, and other stakeholders where appropriate. These boards provide advice on program direction such as priorities and project selection for their regions.

During the eleventh year of the program (2010–2011), 231 projects initiated by 174 funding recipients contributed to the recovery of 347 SARA-listed species across Canada. A total of $12.2 million in funding was awarded to these projects, and an additional $21 million was leveraged from partners, for a total investment of $33.2 million. These contributions provided support to stewardship efforts across Canada that resulted in the securement and protection of 436 785 hectares (ha) of land including 10 869 ha through legally binding means, such as acquisition or conservation easements. Non-binding protection accounts for 425 916 ha, and covers 273 665 ha through renewed stewardship agreements and 152 251 ha through new stewardship agreements to conserve land. The program also supports the improvement or restoration of 12 177 ha of land and 48.9 km of shoreline.

Ausable River Recovery Program

The Ausable River, located in south-western Ontario, is rich in aquatic biodiversity, supporting at least 26 species of freshwater mussels, 83 species of fish and 21 species of reptiles. Many of these species are rare and 14 species in the Ausable River have been assessed nationally by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC). In 2002, the Ausable River Recovery Team was formed, and is co-chaired by the Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority (ABCA) and Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO). A draft recovery strategy, developed in 2005, employed an ecosystem approach that addresses the threats faced by several species at risk within the watershed and benefits the aquatic community in general. Since then, key recommendations to enhance habitat, monitor SAR populations and engage the local community have been undertaken.

The federal Habitat Stewardship Program has provided annual funding to leverage Ausable River ecosystem improvements since 2004. These projects resulted in the protection or improvement of more than 7600 ha of habitat or riparian zone and over 36 km of shoreline.

In 2006, a long-term mussel monitoring program for the Ausable River was initiated to track responses of the freshwater mussel community to ongoing recovery efforts. Seven monitoring stations were established and baseline data related to mussel abundance, distribution, population demographics and habitat requirements were collected. In 2011, support from the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources' Species at Risk Stewardship Fund and Fisheries and Oceans Canada enabled the ABCA to conduct mussel surveys for a second time. A comparison between mussel survey data collected in 2006 and 2011 showed declines in the at-risk species at some sites. However, the monitoring results also confirmed ongoing reproduction with new cohorts of juveniles for most of the six at-risk mussels.

Although more work is needed to protect habitat for aquatic species at risk, including endangered freshwater mussels, the continued commitment from federal and provincial agencies provides landowners with incentives to restore and recover the Ausable River ecosystem.

Monitoring results for the Wavy-rayed Lampmussel (above) has shown this species to be more widespread within the Ausable River than previously known. The species was originally assessed by COSEWIC as Endangered, but was recently re-assessed as Special Concern.© Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority

Monitoring results for the Wavy-rayed Lampmussel (below) has shown this species to be more widespread within the Ausable River than previously known. The species was originally assessed by COSEWIC as Endangered, but was recently re-assessed as Special Concern. © Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority


The Ausable River population of the Snuffbox (Endangered) is one of the only two known populations in Canada. The range of sizes shown above (including juveniles) is indicative of a healthy population. © Shawn Staton, Fisheries and Oceans Canada

The Ausable River population of the Snuffbox (Endangered) is one of the only two known populations in Canada. The range of sizes shown above (including juveniles) is indicative of a healthy population. © Shawn Staton, Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Protection of three threatened or endangered plant species in Centre-du-Québec through private habitat stewardship

In Centre-du-Québec, where private land represents over 96% of the area, the destruction of habitat essential to various plant and wildlife species is accelerating. During fiscal year 2010–2011, with the financial support of the Habitat Stewardship Program for Species at Risk, the Conseil régional de l'environnement du Centre-du-Québec (CRECQ) implemented a project in support of the protection of these habitats. The project primarily involved the conservation, through private stewardship, of the habitat of three Centre-du-Québec plant species listed in the Species at Risk Act: American Ginseng, Van Brunt's Jacob's Ladder and the Butternut.

CRECQ completed surveys that helped identify more accurately the distribution range of the American Ginseng and discover a new Van Brunt's Jacob's Ladder population, which facilitated the development of conservation plans tailor-made for each of these species. These plans resulted in diagnoses identifying conservation issues and defining the actions to be implemented to ensure their regional conservation. A status report on the Butternut was also produced thanks to the surveys. In addition, CRECQ met individually with the landowners affected by the presence of the targeted species to educate them about the conservation of these species and their habitat by handing out a landowner manual containing relevant recommendations. A total of 16 landowner manuals were handed out and eight landowners made a moral commitment to protect the habitat or species by following the recommendations. Furthermore, two landowners expressed interest in selling their land to a conservation agency. Funding was also used to build awareness among a wider audience, as well as to promote dialogue among stakeholders involved in conserving and developing the territory.

By contributing to the conservation and long-term recovery of these populations of species at risk, CRECQ is minimizing the potential risk of their disappearance from Centre-du-Québec. Interdepartmental Recovery Fund

The Interdepartmental Recovery Fund (IRF) is administered by Environment Canada as part of the National Strategy for the Protection of Species at Risk. Established in 2002, the IRF supports federal departments, agencies and Crown corporations in their efforts to meet the requirements of SARA. Funded projects predominantly occur on lands owned or administered by federal organizations other than the SARA competent departments and directly relate to the implementation of activities under recovery strategies or action plans, or surveys of species at risk. Endangered or threatened SARA-listed species are given higher priority for both recovery and survey projects. Since 2009, the IRF has also supported activities that assist federal organizations in preparing high quality proposals for surveys and recovery activities.

During the IRF's first nine years (2002–2003 to 2010–2011), it has financed 555 projects with an investment of $16.7 million. In 2010–2011, the IRF supported 31 projects totaling $1.37 million in support of the recovery of 88 species (see Table 9 for breakdown by federal agency). Of the total funds, 67% was applied to recovery actions, 29% to surveys, and 4% to planning projects. Projects were implemented by seven federal departments and three Crown corporations or agencies. The projected allocation for the 2011–2012 fiscal year is $1.6 million.

Table 9: Interdepartmental Recovery Fund expenditures, by federal agency, in fiscal year 2010–2011
Lead organization
No. of projects IRF($)
Department of National Defence
Environment Canada
Transport Canada
Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada
National Capital Commission
Natural Resources Canada
Parks Canada Agency
National Research Council Canada
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
Canadian Museum of Nature


Sharp-tailed Snake surveys and habitat assessment in British Columbia

Why the endangered Sharp-tailed Snake (Contia tenuis) uses the Observatory Hill property managed by the National Research Council (NRC), a federal organization, as a habitat choice is not completely understood. Using new approaches to study this elusive and hard-to-find snake, the NRC undertook a project to provide information on habitat use that will help in conservation and management efforts of the snakes on Observatory Hill. With funding from the Interdepartmental Recovery Fund, the National Research Council delineated suitable habitat zones, mapped microhabitat features deemed important for the snakes, established survey plots according to a randomized microhabitat-based sampling design, monitored artificial cover objects, and conducted a pilot study to follow movements of individual snakes using a passive integrated transponder (PIT) system. A total of 10 Sharp-tailed Snakes were found under the artificial cover objects installed at 54 sites (each site consisted of three stations; each station had two cover objects). Two of the sites represent new sites for the species on Observatory Hill and expand the known distribution of the snakes. PIT-tags were successfully implanted on four adult snakes. Initial results showed that, over the short term, the released snakes remained close to their original capture locations around the artificial cover objects. These results indicate that it is possible to relocate tagged snakes in the natural habitat. Work in 2011-2012 allowed the National Research Council to evaluate the effectiveness of this technique. Using these results, management measures for the Observatory Hill property were proposed such as restricting public access to sensitive snake habitats by ensuring adequate signage and using barriers, where needed, and conducting surveys and assessments before initiating any developments or activities that may disturb the habitat in areas with records of the Sharp-tailed Snake or within identified high-quality habitat.

The endangered Sharp-tailed snake is secretive and semi-fossorial, which makes it very difficult to find. © Christian Engelstoft

Sharp-tailed snake, © Christian Engelstoft

Made of black fiber-glass roofing material and measuring 30x60 cm, artificial cover objects installed on the Observatory Hill property increase the chance of capturing Sharp-tailed snake. © Christian Engelstoft

Artificial cover object for sharp-tailed snake, © Christian Engelstoft Aboriginal Funds for Species at Risk

The Aboriginal Funds for Species at Risk (AFSAR) program helps Aboriginal organizations and communities across Canada build capacity to participate in the conservation and recovery of species protected under SARA, and species at risk designated by COSEWIC. The program also helps to protect and recover critical habitat or habitat important for species at risk on, or near, First Nations reserves or on land and waters traditionally used by Aboriginal peoples. The program is co-managed by Environment Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Parks Canada Agency, with the support of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada and the guidance of national Aboriginal organizations. Environment Canada and Fisheries and Oceans Canada share project administration responsibilities.

In the 2010–2011 fiscal year, AFSAR provided almost $3.2 million for 89 projects, of which approximately $1.15 million targeted aquatic species at risk. These projects leveraged additional funds that exceeded $2.05 million (cash and in-kind). The projects involved more than 80 organizations and benefited 200 SARA-listed species and an additional 44 COSEWIC-assessed species, through increased Aboriginal awareness of species at risk and through the development of strategies, guidelines and practices or the completion of monitoring studies, surveys and inventories.

Striped Bass and American Eel Initiative

The North Shore Micmac District Council (NSMDC), an Aboriginal Aquatic Resource & Oceans Management (AAROM) aggregate body of seven First Nations communities in Eastern New Brunswick, received AFSAR funding for a First Nations Youth, Striped Bass and American Eel Initiative. The focus of the project was on promoting a greater understanding of SARA among the NSMDC communities. With the help of two students employed for 12 weeks during the summer months, research on the American Eel, including traditional uses by First Nations peoples, was conducted. The students also prepared a poster and brochure that was distributed to the member communities.

An Aboriginal fisher and his crew were hired to operate two gaspereau trap nets for collecting data on Striped Bass in the Miramichi River as part of the Striped Bass monitoring program that has been conducted for the past four years. The results have shown a significant increase in the number of Striped Bass from 2007 to 2010.

Waters of the Eel Ground First Nation are adjacent to the only known spawning grounds for Striped Bass (Southern Gulf of St. Lawrence population) and so awareness of the habitat needs of this species was also very important for this community. The project engaged youth to learn about Striped Bass protection and recovery, and to share this knowledge with other community members. Taking such an active role in species recovery generated a lot of interest and pride from the youth, fishers and others in these communities. It is hoped that the community awareness, stewardship and conservation efforts by all resource users will result in an increased population of Striped Bass in the very near future.

A fishing crew from Eel Ground First Nation caught this Striped Bass in the trap net located on the Miramichi River. The Striped Bass monitoring program has been conducted for the past four years. © NSMDC - AAROM

A fishing crew from Eel Ground First Nation caught this Striped Bass in the trap net located on the Miramichi River. The Striped Bass monitoring program has been conducted for the past four years. © North Shore Micmac District Council - Aboriginal Aquatic Resource & Oceans Management Natural Areas Conservation Program

Environment Canada has other initiatives that complement the SAR funding programs including wetland conservation and the Ecological Gifts Program. One example is the Natural Areas Conservation Program (NACP), which was created by the Government of Canada in 2007 with an investment of $225 million. The long-term protection of more than 200 000 ha (half a million acres) containing diverse ecosystems, wildlife and natural habitat is the goal of the NACP. The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) administers the NACP, and, in working with other non-profit, non-governmental conservation organizations, uses NACP funds to help secure full or partial interests in private lands across southern Canada containing significant ecologically sensitive natural areas.

Using a science-based process, the NCC and its partners work to acquire these lands through donation, purchase or stewardship agreements with private landowners. Under the NACP, priority is given to lands that are nationally or provincially significant, protect habitat for species at risk and migratory birds, or enhance connectivity or corridors between existing protected areas such as national wildlife areas, national parks and migratory bird sanctuaries.

The Government of Canada's contributions under the NACP are matched, at a minimum, dollar for dollar by partner organizations. As of December 2011, the NCC and its partners had contributed more than $290 million to the program, through a combination of matching funds, pledges and donations. Since the program began in 2007, the NCC has completed 875 land transactions covering more than 327 700 ha. The land securement goal set out in the funding agreement has been surpassed as a result of the purchase of large properties or development rights over large areas. The NACP has also contributed to the protection of habitat for at least 117 different species at risk and to other elements of biodiversity. Outreach and Education

SARA recognizes that all Canadians have a role to play in conserving wildlife, including preventing wildlife species from being extirpated or becoming extinct. The Act also recognizes that the conservation efforts of individual Canadians and communities should be encouraged, and that stewardship activities contributing to the conservation of wildlife species and their habitat should be supported to prevent species from becoming at risk. Stewardship and cooperation are encouraged through provisions for funding programs, conservation agreements and joint programs for species at risk.

Environment Canada has continued educating Canadians about species at risk through its longstanding partnership with the Canadian Wildlife Federation in administering the Hinterland Who's Who program, and through developing and publishing species profiles on the Species at Risk Public Registry.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada invests in key outreach and educational activities to better inform Canadians about aquatic species at risk. For example, in 2011, with the department joined Parks Canada, the Bamfield Marine Station, and local schools and community groups at the 2011 Pacific Rim Whale Festival in Ucluelet and Tofino, British Columbia. The event celebrated whales and their environment and engaged local children in learning activities. Thousands of people visited the Fisheries and Oceans Canada display during the festival.

Another example is related to the endangered Atlantic Leatherback Sea Turtle's recovery objectives. In 2011, information sheets on how to handle and release entangled Leatherback Sea Turtles were developed and distributed in the Gulf Region to commercial and Aboriginal fishers with fishing licences containing species at risk clauses (recognizing that SAR may inadvertently be caught as by-catch and confirming that SAR would be returned to the water). The department will continue to distribute these information sheets as required. Copies are available through the Government of Canada Publications site (Leatherback Sea Turtle – An Endangered Species: Tips for Handling and Releasing, Fs149-5/2011). In addition, to raise awarenss of the dangers of plastic bags to turtles, a reusable cloth bag was produced and distributed at awareness events in Gulf Region supermarkets during April. The bags carried a link to a website that explains the threat of marine pollution to the Leatherback Sea Turtle.

Reusable cloth bag with message concerning threats from marine pollution to Leatherback Sea Turtles

Fisheries and Oceans Canada's Aquatic Species at Risk website provides information, by region, on all aquatic species at risk, ranging from the tiniest mollusc to the largest sea mammal. The department also publishes species profiles, and provides links to ongoing consultations on aquatic species.

In 2011, the Parks Canada Agency network of protected heritage places continued to develop educational products and initiatives for species at risk at the local and regional levels. The Ecological Integrity and Species at Risk Public Outreach and Education Strategy Plan (2007) developed under the leadership of the External Relations and Visitor Experience Directorate, continues to be implemented to establish collaborative activities with partners, develop tools and products related to species at risk and help strengthen capacity within Parks Canada outreach and education network through training, sharing of best practices and implementation of activities.

Outreach at the Calgary Zoo and the West Coast

During the summer of 2011, three Parks Canada students delivered theatrical programs and roving interpretation for visitors at the Calgary Zoo. The purpose of this initiative was to deliver conservation messages to the public in an urban environment. Some of the messages were focused on species at risk such as the Woodland Caribou, Wood Bison and Whooping Crane. Through song, dance and interaction, the students delivered messages to some 30 000 zoo visitors. The messages explained the importance of each species to its ecosystem, the challenges faced by at-risk species, and the conservation efforts made by Parks Canada and its partners.

In August 2011, the Canadian and American teenagers who won the Robert Bateman Get to Know art contest were offered the trip of a lifetime. They visited the Gulf Islands National Park Reserve and Fort Rodd Hill National Historic Site for a week-long summer camp, which included activities on species at risk. At Gulf Islands National Park, Parks Canada staff and a Hul'qumi'num Elder gave a presentation on the Southern Resident Killer Whale, Harbour Porpoise, Steller Sea Lion and the Golden Paintbrush. The teenagers then travelled to Fort Rodd Hill National Historic Site to help remove invasive species in the Garry Oak Ecosystem, an important home for many of Canada's species at risk.

Outreach activities at the Calgary Zoo. © Parks Canada Agency

Outreach activities at the Calgary Zoo. © Parks Canada Agency

First Nations/Parks Canada Species at Risk Education Project

At schools on south-eastern Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands, the First Nations/Parks Canada Species at Risk Education Project introduced students and educators, mainly First Nations, to at-risk local species that are both culturally important and listed under the federal Species at Risk Act. In the fall of 2011, preparations were made by the WSÁNEĆ School Board and Parks Canada to deliver its fourth year of programming to 1215 students and 73 educators in eight tribal and non-tribal schools. Among the project's goals is to teach students respect for the connection between the SENĆOŦEN language and culture and the local at-risk plants and animals; to encourage students to care for, understand and act in a way that keeps rare or culturally important plants and animals from disappearing from the wild forever; and to raise awareness of SARA in First Nations communities.

Parks Canada outreach program in tribal and non-tribal schools. © Parks Canada Agency

© Parks Canada Agency

7 Subsection 61(1) of SARA states that no person shall destroy any part of the critical habitat of a listed endangered species or a listed threatened species that is in a province or territory and that is not part of federal lands.

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