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Canada and U. S. Save Shared Species at Risk.

Among the many challenges facing wildlife managers in North America is the fact that political and biogeographical boundaries rarely coincide. For example, the border separating the United States and Canada intersects nine major ecological regions, including Arctic tundra, many forest types, several mountain ranges, two coastal plains, the vast interior plains, and the Great Lakes. These regions feature a great diversity of plants and animals, many of which either migrate or range across the borders between the two countries. Some of these shared species are at risk and need urgent attention in both countries to save them from extinction.

Many North American species that are widely distributed in the continental United States extend only a short distance into Canada or migrate seasonally from Canadian breeding areas to spend the winter farther south. All of the 25 bird species considered threatened or endangered in Canada also occur in the United States. Of the 161 species of animals and plants on Canada's national threatened and endangered lists, about 70 percent are also found in the United States.

According to a review of Federal and State listed species in the U.S., there are more than 800 endangered, threatened, or rare species that occur in both nations. Some species considered at risk in the U.S. are found in sizable numbers in Canada, such as the woodland caribou (Rangifer tarandus caribou), wolf (Canis lupus), grizzly (Ursus arctos), and lynx (Lynx canadensis). Other species are considered at risk in Canada but are found more commonly in the U.S., such as the sage grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus urophasianus), northern bobwhite (Colinus virginianus), burrowing owl (Speotyto cunicularia), eastern Massasauga rattlesnake (Sistrurus catenatus catenatus), and spiny softshell turtle (Apalone spinifera).

Both nations currently consider such shared species as the right and bowhead whales (Balaena glacialis and B. mysticetus), whooping crane (Grus americana), Eskimo curlew (Numenius borealis), Kirtland's warbler (Dendroica kirtlandii), leatherback turtle (Dermochelys coriacea), and Furbish lousewort (Pedicularis furbishiae) as endangered. A number of other species are considered threatened in one country and either threatened or endangered in the other, including the sea otter (Enhydra lutris nereis), humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliaea), marbled murrelet (Brachyramphus marmoratus), northern spotted owl (Strix occidentalis caurina), roseate tern (Sterna dougallii douglallii), western prairie white fringed orchid (Plantanthera praeclara), and golden paintbrush (Castilleja levisecta). Several additional species are endangered in one country and extirpated in the other, like the black-footed ferret (Mustela nigripes), Atlantic gray whale (Eschrichtius robustus), and blackfin cisco (Coregonus nigripinnis).

Although the benefit of close cooperation in the management of shared species has long been recognized by both countries, it has traditionally been directed at species of high economic value, such as migratory game and fisheries. The whooping crane and several other endangered species with high public profiles have been the subject of joint conservation efforts, but they were few and were handled as ad hoc projects. Attention is now broadening to consider all species, especially those believed to be headed for extinction. The American and Canadian governments have created a formal agreement to cooperate in identifying and, where feasible, recovering shared wildlife at risk.

In April 1997, Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior Bruce Babbitt and former Minister of Canada's Department of the Environment Sergio Marchi signed a document entitled "Framework for Cooperation Between the U.S. Department of the Interior and Environment Canada in the Protection and Recovery of Wild Species at Risk." The framework supports exchanging technical expertise; identifying species that would benefit from bilateral attention; implementing joint recovery plans; recruiting partnerships between State, Provincial, and private agencies and individuals; and creating greater public awareness.

Perhaps the agreement's most important achievement, however, will be to encourage more inclusive and flexible cooperative arrangements. For example, any interested party, whether government or private, may seek the assistance of the two Federal wildlife agencies in establishing cooperative programs with its counterpart in the other country. Moreover, action may be directed at any shared species, regardless of jurisdiction, including species considered at risk in only one of the two countries. The burrowing owl, which has become increasingly endangered in Canada but is not considered at risk in the U.S., is a good example. In late 1998, a symposium was held in Utah to examine the owls' overall status and to seek more information on the poor survival of owls that nest in Canada and winter in the southern U.S. and northern Mexico.

To determine which other species need cooperative efforts, or in some cases additional effort, personnel from the Canadian and U.S. wildlife services have been assembling three lists of species of mutual concern. One comprises wildlife and plants listed in both Canada and the U.S., and another includes species listed only in one country but whose range historically included both countries. The third list is made up of species of special concern that are experiencing rapid population declines or require more studies to determine their status. By pursuing the needs revealed by these lists, the working group hopes to encourage communication and cooperative recovery efforts. These results will also be shared with the working groups that are coordinating recovery efforts for species shared by the three countries.

Interagency meetings have already led to closer working relationships at the headquarters level, and this is expected to benefit regional and local offices as well. Each country's endangered species management procedures, from listing to consultation to recovery to outreach efforts, will progress from the strengths of the other as we work together to identify and save species at risk that occur on both sides of the world's longest national border.

Common Name Scientific Name

Bear, grizzly Ursus arctos
Caribou, woodland Rangifer tarandus caribou
Ferret, black-footed Mustela nigripes
Otter, southern sea Enhydra lutris nereis
Whale, blue Balaenoptera musculus
Whale, bowhead (E. & W. Arctic Balaena mysticetus
Whale, finback Balaenoptera physalus
Whale, gray (Atlantic pop.) Eschrichtius robustus
Whale, humpack (W. N. Atlantic Megaptera novaeangliae
whale, humpback (N. Pacific pop.) Megaptera novaeangliae
Whale, right Balaena glacialis
 (ind. australis)
Crane, whooping Grus americana
Curlew, Eskimo Numenius borealis
Falcon, American peregrine Falco peregrinus anatum
Murrelet, marbled Brachyramphus marmoratus
Owl, northern spotted Strix occidentalis caurina
Plover, piping Charadrius melodus
Tern, roseate Sterna dougallii dougallii
Warbler, Kirtland's Dendroica kirtlandii

Turtle, leatherback sea Dermochelys coriacea
Riffleshell, northern Epioblasma torulosa rangiana
Wedgemussel, dwarf Alasmidonta heterodon

Cisco, blackfin Coregonus nigripinnis
Sturgeon, short, nose Acipenser brevirostrum
Sturgeon, white (Kootenai River Acipenser transmontanus

Butterfly, Karner blue Lycaeides melissa samuelis

Lousewort, Furbish's Pedicularis furbishiae
Orchid, eastern prairie white fringed Platanthera leucophaea
Orchid, western prairie white fringed Platanthera praeclara
Paintbrush, golden Castilleja levisecta
Pogonia, small whorled Isotria medeoloides
Thistle, Pitcher's or dune Cirsium pitcheri

 National Federal
Common Name Status, Status,
 Canada US
Bear, grizzly V T
Caribou, woodland T E
Ferret, black-footed EX E
Otter, southern sea T T
Whale, blue V E
Whale, bowhead (E. & W. Arctic E E
Whale, finback V E
Whale, gray (Atlantic pop.) EX E
Whale, humpack (W. N. Atlantic V E
whale, humpback (N. Pacific pop.) T E
Whale, right E E

Crane, whooping E E
Curlew, Eskimo E E
Falcon, American peregrine T E
Murrelet, marbled T T

Owl, northern spotted E T
Plover, piping E E, T
Tern, roseate E E, T
Warbler, Kirtland's E E

Turtle, leatherback sea E E
Riffleshell, northern E E
Wedgemussel, dwarf EX E

Cisco, blackfin T EX
Sturgeon, short, nose V E
Sturgeon, white (Kootenai River V E

Butterfly, Karner blue EX E

Lousewort, Furbish's E E
Orchid, eastern prairie white fringed V T
Orchid, western prairie white fringed E T
Paintbrush, golden T T
Pogonia, small whorled E T
Thistle, Pitcher's or dune E T

Codes: EX-- Extinct or Extirpated, E= Endangered, T--Threatened, V=Vulnerable, C= Candidate

Sources: U.S. List(50 CFR 17.11 17.12), COSEWIC list (1999), and information from The Nature Conservancy

Martha Balis-Larsen, outreach specialist, and Susan Jewell, biologist, are with the Division of Endangered Species, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Arlington, Virginia. Chuck Dauphine is the Scientific Advisor for the Biodiversity Protection Branch, Canadian Wildlife Service, Ottawa, Canada.
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Author:Balis-Larsen, Martha; Dauphine, Chuck; Jewell, Susan
Publication:Endangered Species Bulletin
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 1, 1999
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