Species at Risk in the 1000 Islands Ecosystem

Due to human impact pressures in eastern Ontario and a high level of diversity found along the Frontenac Arch, many rare and vulnerable species are found in and around Thousand Islands National Park. The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) identifies more than 30 species designated as being at risk federally in the 1000 Islands area. Species are assessed under the following categories, which indicate the severity of threat.

'Eastern' Loggerhead Shrike
'Eastern" Loggerhead Shrike
© Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology /
O.S. Pettingill 402 851

Extinct - A species that no longer occurs in the world.

Extirpated - A species that no longer occurs in Canada, but may occur somewhere else in the world, such as in the U.S.

Endangered - A species facing imminent extirpation or extinction.

Threatened - A species likely to become endangered if limiting factors are not reversed.

Special Concern - A species that is particularly sensitive to human activities or natural events and that may therefore became threatened or endangered in the future.

Not at Risk - A species that has been evaluated and found to be not at risk.

Data Deficient - Information has not been collected and reviewed to determine the species' status.

Protecting Species at Risk

Deerberry (vaccinium stamineum)
Deerberry vaccinium stamineum
© Parks Canada / James Kamstra

Many of the species at risk in the 1000 Islands region are in peril because their specific habitats are being reduced through human activities or natural changes. Thousand Islands National Park is working with First Nations, provincial parks, conservation authorities, field naturalist groups, land trusts and several other non-profit groups to protect these habitats.

For images of, and to find out more about these and other species at risk, consult the Species at Risk Public Registry.

Federally Designated Species at Risk in the Thousand Islands National Park area

Common Name

Scientific Name


American Ginseng

Panax quinquefolius


Blunt-lobed Woodsia

Woodsia obtusa



Juglans cinerea


Eastern Loggerhead Shrike

Lanius ludovicianus migrans


Eastern Prairie Fringed Orchid

Platanthera leucophaea


Henslow's Sparrow

Ammodramus henslowii


King Rail

Rallus elegans


Northern Bobwhite

Colinus Virginianus


Blanding's Turtle

Emydoidea blandingii



Vaccinium stamineum


Eastern Rat Snake

Elaphe obsolete obsolete


Golden- Winged Warbler

Vermivora chrysoptera


Least Bittern

Lxobrychus exilis


Peregrine Falcon

Falco peregrine antum


Pugnose Shiner

Notropis arogenus


Stinkpot Turtle

Sternotherus odoratus


American Eel

Anguilla rostrata

Special Concern

Bridle Shiner

Notropis bifrenatus

Special Concern

Broad Beech Fern

Phegopteris hexagonoptera

Special Concern

Cerulean Warbler

Dendroica cerulea

Special Concern

Eastern Milksnake

Lampropeltis trangulum

Special Concern

Eastern Yellow Breasted Chat

Icteria virens virens

Special Concern

Five- Lined Skink

Eumeces fasciatus

Special Concern

Grass Pickerel

Esox americanus vermiculatus

Special Concern

Lake Sturgeon

Acipenser fulvescens

Special Concern

Monarch Butterfly

Danus plexippus

Special Concern

Northern Map Turtle

Graptemys geographica

Special Concern

Northern Ribbonsnake

Thamnophis sauritus

Special Concern

Red Headed Woodpecker

Melanerpes crythrocephalus

Special Concern

Short-Eared Owl

Asio flammeus

Special Concern

Yellow Rail

Coturnicops noveboracensis

Special Concern

Endangered Species

American Ginseng (Panax quinquefolium): Once an abundant forest floor plant that could be found in colonies of hundreds, American ginseng is now in danger of becoming extinct due to over-collecting and forest harvesting.

Threatened Species

Grey (Eastern) ratsnake (Elaphe obsoleta)

The grey or eastern rat snake is Canada's largest snake, growing to lengths of 100 to 256 cm. Factors affecting its population in the 1000 Islands are human persecution and road mortality. The snake is harmless despite its large appearance.

Deerberry (Vaccineum stamineum)

Although this is a widespread species in the United States, it reaches its northern limit of growth in the Niagara Falls and 1000 Islands area. There are only 5 growth stations in Canada– 2 very small ones in Niagara and 3 more extensive populations in the 1000 Islands. In Ontario its preferred habitat is dry, open, rocky woods with a history of fire. It is not usually in open sites or in areas of deep shade.

This is a threatened species because of its proximity to existing trails, a lack of new seedlings, and encroachment by other vegetation. Thus it could decline if it is not actively managed.

Stinkpot Turtle (Musk Turtle, Sternotherus odoratus)

This is a small aquatic freshwater turtle that lives underwater most of the time. It exudes a musky odour and has a surly disposition- hence its name. For habitat, it prefers a shallow body of water with a soft bottom and little or no current.

This species is given 'threatened' status. It is threatened mainly by habitat destruction, primarily through wetland drainage and shoreline development. Because stinkspot turtles are very secretive, it is difficult to detect population trends.

Special Concern

Bridle Shiner (Notropis bifrenatus)

This minnow grows up to 6 cm in length. It lives only two years and spawns only once, in either its first or second year. Its habitat is in quiet streams and it cannot tolerate acidic waters. It prefers clear water and its populations may benefit from the clarifying effect of zebra mussels.

Threats are the filling in of wetlands and removal of aquatic vegetation. There is no specific protection for this species, other than the protection of its habitat

Not at Risk

Black Tern
Black Tern
© Parks Canada / Brian Morin
Black Tern (Chlidonias niger)

Although the black tern is regarded by the COSEWIC as "not at risk" in Canada, it is of special concern in Ontario since its numbers have become very reduced. Like the Least Bittern, the black tern requires marshes with open waters interspersed with mixed vegetation types, a habitat that is threatened by the incursion of cattails.

More Information

Other Sensitive Species: The province of Ontario has identified vulnerable and rare species for the province. Species that are listed as being at risk provincially include pitch pine (Pinus rigida) and the southern Ontario population of bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus alascanus). For more information on provincially listed species, consult the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources' website.

Reporting a Rare Species: You can help in species at risk recovery by reporting rare species. The Natural Heritage Information Centre keeps track of where species occur to be able to better understand species requirements and status.