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Kouchibouguac National Park of Canada

Species at risk

The coastline of Kouchibouguac is more precious than ever as it now supports a second species at risk; the St. Lawrence Aster. The other known species at risk found in Kouchibouguac is the Piping Plover.

The Piping Plover

The piping plover is a starling-size shorebird whose plaintive whistle cry can be heard along certain stretches of the Park's sandy beaches. This shorebird is well camouflaged with a head and back the colour of pale dried sand and a black bar over a white forehead and a single black breast band.

Swimmers and beachcombers have been known to disturb piping plovers inadvertently, even damaging nest and eggs and frightening feeding plover chicks. Since 1985, the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada has considered the piping plover endangered and law therefore protects this species. To prevent disturbance and to allow plovers to successfully hatch and raise their young, important breeding, nesting, rearing and staging areas are temporarily closed to the public at critical periods during the spring and summer. Should you encounter a piping plover while beach walking, leave the area immediately by walking as close as possible to the shoreline.

To date, the results of our efforts to protect this shorebird have been encouraging. You can do your part by keeping a watchful eye. Read and obey the signs marking the restricted areas and you will be helping us protect this endangered species.

See also, Species at Risk and Parks Canada

Saint Lawrence Aster

The Gulf of Saint Lawrence Aster ( Symphyotrichum laurentianum ) is a tiny rayless aster that grows in low numbers and is found only in the Gulf of St. Lawrence region. It has been located within Kouchibouguac National Park on two occasions in the past; 1979 and more recently in fall of 2000. No one knows for sure whether or not the plant grew in the park between 1979 and 2000. The Gulf of Saint Lawrence Aster has been classified as 'vulnerable' by COSEWIC (Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada). In order to respect the COSEWIC designation and to assist in protecting the species, the park adopted a management and monitoring plan during 2001.

During fall of 2001, the park was surprised to discover that there were no longer any colonies of this plant in the park! A storm in October 2000 resulted in two of the colonies being buried under a layer of sand. The 3rd colony was flooded by the rising tides in one of the lagoons where colonies of the St Lawrence Aster were found. Will the aster recover to be found once again in Kouchibouguac National Park? Only continued monitoring will provide the answer. The aster appears to require some disturbance in order to avoid competition with other salt marsh plants. The October storm may actually aid the plant's survival over the long term by creating new habitat. The dynamic and ephemeral nature of the aster's habitat, coupled with the fact that it is an annual, makes it impossible to predict where the next colony of Saint Lawrence Aster may establish. Resource Conservation personnel will continue to search and monitor for this tiny plant in years to come.