Do you know what the passenger pigeon, labrador duck and sea mink have in common? They are all animals that used to live in Canada, but now are gone forever from our country-and from any other place on Earth. In other words, they are "extinct."
In this photo gallery, you'll find other animals-and plants-in Canada that are at risk of eventually becoming extinct. We call them "species at risk."
We don't want to lose any of these species at risk, not only because they are all unique and amazing creatures, but also because they are important to the places where they live. If an animal becomes extinct, for example, other animals that eat it lose a source of food. The larger animals that eat those animals may be affected, and so on. There are many connections among all the forms of life on Earth-connections that we are only beginning to understand.
Extirpated? Endangered? Threatened? What do these words mean?
We use different words to describe species at risk, depending on how close they are to extinction.
- An extirpated species no longer exists in the wild in Canada, but can be found elsewhere.
- An endangered species is soon expected to be extirpated or to become extinct.
- A threatened species is likely to become endangered if the threats it is facing are not reversed.
- A species of special concern is especially sensitive to human activities or natural forces but is not endangered or threatened.