Threatened Mammals of Canada

Vancouver Island Marmots and Sea Otters are internationally endangered while many more mammals are regionally endangered in Canada.

Within its immense territorial expanse, Canada covers a total of twenty ecological regions, including five marine and fifteen terrestrial ecological regions. The country’s principle biomes include tundra, mixed forest, broadleaf forest, and the Rocky Mountains, among several other biomes, all of which host a great degree of biodiversity. The fauna of Canada consists of several species of mammals, reptiles, amphibians, birds, insects, and fish. The large mammals are important in promoting wildlife tourism in Canada. However, the exploration of land and other natural resources has significantly affected the existence of some of the mammal species in the country. Some of the Canadian mammals threatened as a result of these negative human activities are looked at below.

Vancouver Island Marmot

The Vancouver Island Marmot, also known as Marmota vancouverensis scientifically, is found in the high mountains of Vancouver Island. Although it is native to the Island, it can also breed successfully at captive breeding centers in Canada. Vancouver Island Marmot is larger compared to other marmot species and rodents. It can be differentiated from other species by its brown fur and the contrasting white patches. An adult Vancouver Island Marmot measures a maximum of 70 centimeters from the nose tip to the tail while the weight varies with the season. It lives in burrows and feeds on over 30 species of plant food. Vancouver Island Marmot hibernate depending on the site characteristics and the weather conditions especially from late September to early May. The number of Vancouver Island Marmot has declined significantly due to climatic change and habitat loss. Captive breeding has been initiated to increase their numbers.

Sea Otter

The Sea Otter, which is scientifically known as Enhydra lutris, is a type of marine mammal which is native to the North Pacific Ocean, and it is the heaviest member of the Weasel Family. It inhabits the offshore environment and preys on marine invertebrates such as crustacean, sea urchin, and mollusks. Sea Otter is a small marine mammal but the heaviest with the male weighing 22 to 45 kilograms and measuring 1.2 to 1.5 meters in length. It relies on its thick fur to keep it warm since it has no blubber. The fur is made up of waterproof hair and short underfur. It moves in water by propelling the rear end of its body. The Sea Otter feeds in the early morning before sunrise and sleeps during the mid-day before resuming foraging before midnight. The male is polygamous with mating taking place in water. The demand for the sea otter’s fur has seen their number reduce due to hunting.

Swift Fox Moose

The Swift Fox Moose, Vulpes velox Alces alces, is found in the provinces of Manitoba and Alberta in Canada. It lives in short-grass prairies and deserts. The existence of the Swift Fox Moose was threatened by predator control programs, and it is currently listed as threatened by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Swift Fox Moose is an omnivore and feeds on grass, small mammals, insects, and fruits. Swift Fox Moose has a grayish coloration across its sides and legs while the throat and chest range from yellow to white. It has a black-tipped tail and large ears. The Swift Fox Moose can live up to six years and 14 years in captivity. It is nocturnal and spends its daytime confined in the den. The breeding season begins in March with the pups born in May.

Conservation Efforts for Canadian Mammals

Most of the threatened mammal species of Canada face population losses, or even extinction, due to the continuance of such negative human activities as poaching, clearing of land, and hunting. However, captive breeding has been adopted as one of conservation effort for these mammals. Captive breeding involves raising these mammals in areas away from their natural habitat with the aim of increasing their numbers. Some of the protected areas such as parks and reserves have also enhanced conservation of the threatened species.

Threatened Mammals of Canada

Threatened Mammals of CanadaScientific Name
Vancouver Island Marmot
Marmota vancouverensis
Sea OtterEnhydra lutris
Swift Fox
Vulpes velox
Alces alces
Wood Bison
Gulo gulo
Bison bison athabascae
American BadgerTaxidea taxus
Western Harvest Mouse
Ord's Kangaroo Rat
Reithrodontomys megalotis
Dipodomys ordii
Townsend's MoleScapanus townsendii
Canadian LynxLynx canadensis
CougarPuma concolor
American MartenMartes americana

More in Environment