Endangered Emergency

by mohashi on November 25, 2016 - 9:01pm

Hundreds of species go extinct every day, some that we know about and others that we never even discovered in the first place. Many people are willing to support an endangered species however in reality few of those endangered species are getting the support they require. This article discusses the impact the Canadian Government has on helping endangered species and unfortunately it does not look good. Canada has a 2-step process for protecting endangered wildlife. The first step is having scientists from the committee on the status of endangered wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) conduct a survey on the species. (this includes many different factors from how the size of the population to the where the habitats are located). From here the scientists give the species a rank from “not at risk” to “Extinct”. The second step is the government assesses the results from COSEWIC and determines whether or not the species gets to be put on the “species at risk” act which gives the species full protection under law. Unfortunately, the government has a set of their own factors (ex. Cost of protection) which means that although a species may be endangered, it may not be put on the list. Overall, “scientists found that 86% of the legally protected species in Canada either maintained the same level of risk or deteriorated over time” (Favaro, 2014).

Obviously, with 86% of the LEGALLY protected species having problems with improving, there is a problem. The article argues that the reason this number is so high is since the habitats in many cases are not being protected and the ones that are being protected are only being partially protected. I agree with this argument because the government is only doing part of the puzzle when they really should be finding the issue and addressing it fully. For example, the article mentions how the coopers hawk went from being a special concern to no longer at risk. All because they banned DDT. The conflict of value within the governments choices also play a large role. As mentioned before the cost for protecting these species can be a determining factor when it comes to a species being put on the list. However, if protecting a species coincides with benefiting another aspect of the environment or helping society, then a species may be more likely to be protected. In the Cooper’s hawk case this may have been a contributing factor to why DDT was banned but it wasn’t the be all end all solution when addressing DDT.

Uncertainty is another part of this problem of protecting species, although some species may be going extinct clearly due to human contact in the environment, many of these species are naturally going extinct simply from natural causes of no longer being able to survive due to predators. We as humans can’t control everything that happens in the wild especially when if comes to protecting all the species at risk. What we can do is follow what the government is doing and acknowledge the species that are at risk, and if they manage to be protect through laws then great! But if not then there needs to be alternate ways for society to have a positive impact on supporting these species.

 

Sources:

News, CBC. "Canada's Process to Protect Endangered Species Is Failing, Study Finds - Technology & Science - CBC News." CBCnews. CBC/Radio Canada, 28 Nov. 2014. Web. http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/canada-s-process-to-protect-endangered-species-is-failing-study-finds-1.2853444

"Endangered Species & Biodiversity." Canadian Wildlife Federation: Endangered Species & Biodiversity. N.p., n.d. Web. http://cwf-fcf.org/en/explore-our-work/endangered-species/

Comments

Hi Mohashi,

First, I wanted to tell you that your article was very well written. It is on a controversial topic which I have actually discussed several times throughout many of my courses here at Guelph. Your title was a very simple, yet intriguing and powerful one which helped actually pull me into reading it.

Issues with species becoming endangered and extinct are actually much more complex than most people think. Species of animals are at risk, while things as small as plants are too. Smaller species of plants becoming endangered is actually a very large problem as they are part of things such as ecosystem services. When a plant becomes extinct or is wiped out from a certain area, the entire ecosystem suffers from it.

This brings me to my question to you. There is lots of controversy regarding saving beneficial plants (such as medicinal plants used for human sicknesses) such as taxol, used for cancer treatments. Taxol comes from the Pacific Yew Tree which is an endangered species due to the over-consumption of it. My question is, do you believe that the protection of biodiversity and medicinal plant products must take precedence over the lives of a few or do you believe that we should continue to harvest these plants at unsustainable rates to ensure lives of humans can be saved?

Hi Mohashi,

An interesting choice of topic and great title! I was sad to hear that the government has its own set of factors to whether or not a species should be protected (e.g. cost of protection as you've mentioned). I don't know how much this applies to all protected species but I think that much of species protection is based on the species' utility to humans or just our whims. For example, there is a popular conception that we are protecting pandas simply because they are cute (although I'm pretty sure they play an important role in maintaining their ecosystem). Do you think it's right to judge and choose which species to protect? Also, you mentioned that the reason why currently protected species are having difficulties improving is because their habitats are not being protected. Do you think that we should take an ecosystem approach to species protection?