Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Species at Risk in SAM Communities

Endangered species in Canada are protected under the Species at Risk Act. The goal of this legislation is to protect species and their habitats that are endangered, or at risk of becoming endangered. Several municipalities in Newfoundland and Labrador have taken steps to protect land within their municipal boundaries that is habitat for a listed species. Conservation plans in these communities highlight existing work or suggest future opportunities for stewardship and protection of these species.


Endangered: A wildlife species facing imminent local or global extinction.
Threatened: A wildlife species that is likely to become endangered if nothing is done to reverse the factors leading to its local or global extinction.
Vulnerable: A wildlife species that has characteristics which make it particularly sensitive to human activities or natural events.

Photo: NL Wildlife Division staff.
Piping Plover (Endangered)

The Piping Plover (Charadrius meolodus) is a small, sand-colored shorebird, with a black breast band, black band above its forehead, and a partially black tail. It has a white rump with an orange beak with a black tip. The Piping Plover winters along the Atlantic coast and the Caribbean but there is a breeding population in Newfoundland. Because they nest on the ground, they are very vulnerable to disturbance. Eggs can be destroyed by off-road vehicles, dogs, and pedestrians. Additionally, predation rates of mink and other animals have increased in recent years.
Every summer, the population of Piping Plovers in Newfoundland hovers around 36. They nest on the beaches in four SAM member communities: Burgeo, Port aux Basques, Grand Codroy Estuary, and Stephenville Crossing. Conservation plans in these communities incorporate stewardship initiatives to protect and increase the Plover population.
Photo: NL Wildlife Division staff.
Harlequin Duck (Vulnerable)

The Harlequin Duck (Histrionicus histrionicus) is a small sea duck. Males have a complex plumage pattern with the head and neck being dark slate blue, a large white crescent in front of the eye, a small round dot behind the eye, and a larger oval spot down the neck. A black crown stripe runs atop the head, with chestnut patches on either side. The body is mostly a lighter slate blue with chestnut colored sides. Females are far less colorful, with a brownish-grey body and patches of white behind, below, and in front of the eye. The Eastern Harlequin Duck is threatened by timber harvest and hydroelectric development in breeding habitats. In wintering locations, fishing nets, aquaculture development, disturbance, and oil spills are potential threats.
The population winters along the eastern seaboard and breed in Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador. SAM member communities such as Mary’s Harbour, Red Bay, St. Lawrence, and St. Lewis are areas where Harlequin Ducks are often spotted. While population levels seem to be increasing in wintering locations, the eastern population has still not reached a sustainable level.

The Limestone Barrens

The Limestone Barrens is an area along the western coast of the Northern Peninsula of Newfoundland, extending from Port au Choix to Burnt Cape Ecological Reserve. This area is extremely unique as it supports a very high percentage of rare plants. Of the 298 vascular plants considered rare in Newfoundland, 104 occur within the Barrens and 22 of these species are endemic to the area! The Limestone Barrens are of special significance and require management and protection. Port au Choix and Flower's Cove signed stewardship agreements to conserve this unique habitat and the rare species within. Many of the rare species found in these communities are at risk, such as Fernald’s Braya and Woolly Arnica.

Photo: Parks Canada.
Fernald’s Braya (Threatened)

Fernald’s Braya (Braya fernaldii) is a plant that grows only on the Northern Peninsula of Newfoundland. It is remarkably well adapted to limestone soils and extreme winter cold. It has a deep taproot, fleshy leaves, and erect, flowering stalks up to 7 cm high. The fruit is an elongate, usually hairy capsule and the flowers are white/pink in color. Populations have been disturbed by human activity such as quarrying and road development. In addition, populations are limited by off-road vehicle activity, insects such as the diamondback moth, and various diseases.

Photo: A Digital Flora of Newfoundland and Labrador
Woolly Arnica (Endangered)

Woolly Arnica (Arnica angustifolia subsp. Tomentosa) is a member of the sunflower family and produces one single yellow flower per stem. It has long narrow leaves and the whole plant is covered with woolly hairs. They have become endangered as they have a limited ability to multiply or colonize new areas and have lost habitat due to climate change and disturbance such as off-road vehicle activity and quarry development.