Endangered Arctic Species

 

Of all the species that have ever lived, 95% are now extinct. Extinction has been a natural process for millions of years, so why all the concern? The issue is not that extinction occurs, but the rate at which it is happening. More importantly, the increased rate of extinction is a direct result of human interference and ignorance. Humans rely on renewable resources for food, shelter, and profit. All too often we exploit the land and its inhabitants without a thought as to the consequences of our actions. Even the smallest creature plays a pivotal role in ecosystem equilibrium.

The Arctic's ecosystem is particularly vulnerable to the slightest of alterations, which can have dramatic, and sometimes catastrophic, results. The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) is responsible for assessing the status of wildlife species at risk. Scientific experts assign species to one of the following five categories:

Extinct — species no longer exists

Extirpated — species no longer exists in the wild in Canada, but they occur elsewhere.

Endangered — species are facing imminent extinction or extirpation

Threatened — species are likely to become endangered in Canada if limiting factors are not reversed.

Special Concern (formerly Vulnerable) — species are of special concern because of characteristics that make them particularly sensitive to human activities or natural events.

As of 2000, 173 species, subspecies, or populations of wild plants and animals in Canada are threatened or endangered, including 11 in the Arctic. An additional 153 species, subspecies or populations are of special concern, including 14 in the Arctic. Below is a list summarizing the mammals, birds, and fish of the Arctic that COSEWIC has identified. For more information on each species, simply click on the animal's name.

Category
Animal
Status
Year of Designation
Range in Arctic
Mammals
Endangered
1990
S. East Baffin Island – Cumberland Strait
 
Beluga Whale
Endangered
1988
Ungava Bay
 
Beluga Whale
Threatened
1988
Eastern Hudson Bay
 
Beluga Whale
Special Concern
1988
Eastern High Arctic/Baffin Bay
 
Endangered
1986
Eastern and Western Arctic
 
Special Concern
1983
Northwest Atlantic Ocean
 
Threatened
1991
Northwest Atlantic Ocean
  Sea Mink Extinct
2000
Northwest Atlantic Ocean
 
Endangered
1991
Banks Island
  Peary Caribou Endangered
1991
High Arctic
  Peary Caribou Threatened
1991
Low Arctic
  Grizzly Bear Special Concern
1991
Yukon Territory, Northwest Territories, Nunavut
 
Special Concern
1999
Yukon Territory, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, Labrador
 
Special Concern
1989
Yukon Territory, Nunavut, Northwest Territories
         
Birds Short-eared Owl Special Concern
1994
Canada
  Harlequin Duck Special Concern
2001
Nunavut
  Tundra Peregrine Falcon Special Concern
1992
Yukon Territory, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Quebec, Labrador
  Anatum Peregrine Falcon Threatened
2000
Canada
  Eskimo Curlew Endangered
2000
Canada
  Ivory Gull Special Concern
1996
Nunavut
  Ross' Gull Special Concern
1996
Nunavut, Manitoba
  Great Auk Extinct
Canada
Fish    
 
  Atlantic Cod Special Concern
1998
Northwest Atlantic Ocean
  Bering Wolffish Special Concern
1989
Arctic Ocean
  Northern Wolffish Threatened
2001
Arctic Ocean
  Blackline Prickleback Special Concern
1989
Arctic Ocean
  Fourhorn Sculpin Special Concern
1989
Northwest Territories, Nunavut, High Arctic Islands