Species at Risk are species that require special consideration to ensure that they remain a functioning part of the ecosystem.  Sometimes it is because they have experienced substantial population declines, sometimes it is just because they are isolated from other individuals of the same species.  Across Canada, including in National Parks, there are special government acts which require us to help and protect Species at Risk. 

 

In Gros Morne we have developed a multi-species action plan to make sure that we are taking steps to ensure the survival of at risk species within the park.  The full plan can be found here, but some of the species, the stresses they face, and what we are doing to help are:

 

Little Brown Bat

Little Brown Bats and Northern Long-eared Bats 

White-nose syndrome (WNS) is a disease that causes hibernating bats to wake up too early, emerging from hibernation before there are insects for them to feed on.  Subsequently many infected bats die from this disease and in jurisdictions across Canada where the disease has been present for many years 90-95% of bats have died.  Bats found on Newfoundland only tested positive for WNS in 2017, but the disease is spread across the province, with more bats, including one less than 1km from the park, testing positive in 2018.  In the park we have been working hard to document bat presence on the landscape before the anticipated decline.  

Newfoundland Marten

Newfoundland Marten

Newfoundland Marten are members of the weasel family and are superb climbers.  They live in mature forests, hunting small mammals and birds.  This subspecies is unique to Newfoundland and has suffered such a dramatic decline that it was listed as endangered in the early 2000’s. Gros Morne National Park participated in the island-wide recovery effort by mapping the critical and suitable habitat for marten throughout the park, promoting compliance with marten-friendly brass snare wire regulations to reduce risk of incidental mortality due to snowshoe hare snaring, and reducing the park’s moose population to prevent further loss or degradation of marten’s habitat. While they may look cute it’s their tenacity that has helped them recover!

Mountain Fern

Mountain Fern is known primarily from eastern Asia and western North America. In western North America, it extends southwards from the Aleutian Islands and southeast Alaska into coastal British Columbia and Washington. The only known location in North America east of the Rocky Mountains is in Gros Morne National Park, where its presence is limited to a single alpine valley. The isolation and rarity of this Mountain Fern population makes it very important to monitor and protect. To prevent habitat disturbance and ensure long-term persistence of a viable population, a special preservation zone was created around the area in which the plants are found. Moreover, after a recent population survey where additional Mountain Ferns were found, this zone was officially expanded to include them.

 

In 2017 just over 1300 Mountain Fern were counted on newly established plots.  This standardized survey will allow us to document change in the population over time.