Species At Risk
in the Cariboo Chilcotin Region
Designated as "Central Interior", the Cariboo-Chilcotin Region includes, to the east and north, the Cariboo Mountains (home to our endangered Mountain Caribou herds) including the world famous Bowron Lake Provincial Park. In the south, the dry grasslands of the Junction Sheep Range Provincial Park and Churn Creek Protected Area house many species at risk; and to the west, Tweedsmuir Provincial Park is abundant in wildlife, including BC's blue ranked Grizzly Bear and the red listed (in the Itcha Range only) Common Pika.
In Canada the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) provide scientific assessments of species at risk, and work to identify and rank the species of Canada. This is an ongoing process that is far from complete. 612 species have been assessed (May 2003) since the committee was formed in 1977! In 1978 17 species were officially designated; in 1988, 178 species; in 1999, 339 species; in 2001, 364 species; in 2002, 415 species; and in 2003, 441 species. In June of 2003 the Species At Risk Act came into force in Canada, for the protection of wildlife on federal lands. Canada works with the provinces under the Accord for the Protection of Species at Risk, which includes recovery teams for the nationally endangered wildlife. In the Cariboo-Chilcotin, recovery teams for the Mountain Caribou and Interior Coho (CCCS sits a member on this team) are currently researching and working to better understand how we can improve conditions for these species.
The broad range of contrasting ecosystems, from dense forests to dry grasslands and prickly pear cactus, to the wet cedar rainforests of the Quesnel and Horsefly Lakes areas, and large rivers (Fraser and Chilcotin), to lush green valleys, fjord lakes (Quesnel Lake is the deepest fjord lake in the world), to mountains complete with glaciers, pristine glacial lakes and alpine meadows, are all here in the Cariboo Chilcotin! With it, we have the abundant wildlife and plant species whose endurance of time and human inhabitation are showing some significant changes. We did not plan these changes, or wish them, however, we now know we have to counteract them or suffer further species fading into extinction.
The introduction of "exotic" species to a new environment, has caused considerable stress and hardship on local species. The new species may eat up the food supply, prey on or transfer disease to native species. In the Canadian Great Lakes alone, over 140 alien aquatic species have been introduced from ocean-going ships from Europe.
Many of our common plants are alien: dandelions, ox eye daisy, and Purple Loosestrife. Purple Loosestrife was brought from Europe as a garden plant. Since the bugs that keep it in check in its homeland do not live here, it can take over. Loosestrife will choke out other plants and animals that rely on wetlands, such as birds, fish, turtles and frogs!
In the Cariboo Chilcotin the Blue Listed painted turtle could be harmed by people releasing their pet store red eared slider turtles (aliens) loose in the lakes and ponds.