Published August 12, 2012
The Wild Side, Part Two: As the human footprint expands across Canada, so does the threat to the country’s wildlife. There are now 650 species officially listed as endangered, threatened, special concern, or no longer found in the wild in Canada. In part two of the series, Postmedia News looks at a small mammal scientists refer to as “a living fossil.”
The Mountain Beaver, shown here after being caught by BC researchers, is the most primitive rodent alive in the world today. Photo by Michelle Holst
Fresh green ferns and leaves stacked up at the entrance of the tunnel are a dead giveaway. The “living fossil” is in.
But good luck seeing the creature, which is known as the Mountain Beaver.
It is so elusive that homeowners near colonies on mountain slopes outside Vancouver are often unaware that the strange little mammals are nibbling on carrots in their backyards.
“They’d have no idea,” says wildlife biologist Pontus Lindgren, who studied one colony that had been raiding gardens.
While the creatures share a name with the much more common North American Beaver, that is pretty much where the similarities end.
Mountain Beavers are, as scientists put it, a “living fossil.” They are the most primitive rodent alive in the world today, the only remaining representative of a family of creatures that dates back at least 25 million years, long before humans walked the Earth. Continue reading
August 6, 2012
The Wild Side, Part 1
As the human footprint expands across Canada, so does the threat to the country’s wildlife. There are now 650 species officially listed as endangered, threatened, of special concern, or no longer found in the wild in Canada. Government and environmentalists have often tussled over conservation efforts. Postmedia News science writer Margaret Munro looks at some vulnerable species across the country, beginning with those that are most unloved.
Senior Staff Scientist at Ecojustice, Susan Pinkus is pictured at Stanley Park in Vancouver, BC (BEN NELMS for Postmedia News)
VANCOUVER – In a good year, the tangle of leaves and stems on southern Vancouver Island can grow up to six metres long. It’s been sprouting out of the ground every spring for decades.
The plant, a Coast Manroot that grows from huge, human-sized underground tubers, is one of Canada’s most endangered species. It’s also one of the most obscure and unloved.
Maintenance crews and mowers have been whacking away at the plant near Victoria – one of the 18 known manroots still alive in Canada – and grazing animals have trampled and killed several others. Continue reading