Any animal or plant which has a small or noticeably decreasing population, is at risk. If nothing is done to change this pattern, they will disappear altogether. In Saskatchewan, there are 148 Species at Risk. Most of these species call Saskatchewan’s native prairie home.
There are many factors which contribute to a declining wildlife population:
As the natural ecosystem that a species lives in shrinks, degrades or is fragmented, they may begin to struggle to find food, shelter, or even reproduce.
Poisons used by humans to keep pests from harming their crops or damaging property may also harm unintended species.
Disconnected fragments of habitat will support reduced populations of animals and plants and them vulnerable to extinction as their genetic viability declines.
Hunting can be an effective population management tool. But if humans over-harvest an animal or plant, populations may not be able to reproduce fast enough too keep up.
If an animal or plant from another geographic region is introduced into a new ecosystem, this can present a threat to the native species present by competing for resources and potentially out-growing the native species.
Agriculture, mining, forestry, and road development, urban expansion, etc. often result in large portions of native prairie being damaged or destroyed, potentially putting many species in danger.
Increased human population growth and urban expansion into wild habitat can increase the frequency of infectious viruses, bacteria and parasites that may find their way into a population of wildlife with often detrimental effects.
Sometimes it can be difficult to determine the reasons for a population decline in a species as it can be a combination of some or all of these factors. These can often be the most difficult to manage because the steps needed to prevent extinction are unclear.
Species at Risk Categories
There are 5 stages a species goes through if it is unable to recover from a population decline:
Special Concern species are experiencing declining numbers due to human activities or natural events, but the population is still large enough to recover on its own.
Precautions should be undertaken to make sure they don’t become Threatened.
Threatened species are shrinking in numbers at a concerning rate. They are likely to become Endangered if nothing is done to reverse the factors causing their population to decline.
Endangered species are on the verge of Extirpation or Extinction. Their numbers have been reduced to a mere handful so active conservation efforts must be employed to keep them from disappearing.
Extirpated species no longer exist in the wild in one geographic area, but still exist in other geographic areas.
Extinct species are animals which no longer exist anywhere in the world. They were unable to survive a change in their environment.
Who Is At Risk?
Click one of the icons to learn more about prairie animals in danger of disappearing:
Distinguished by being warm-blooded and having hair or fur, the mammals of the prairie are beloved creatures with a history closely entwined with humans, but now some of them are at risk of disappearing.
Bats are a special type of mammal, and they’re facing a special type of risk. These winged insect hunters rule the night sky, but a deadly new fungus could spell their demise.
Bats may rule the night sky, but during the day it’s for the birds. Fast flying and highly intelligent, our feathered friends have brought music to the prairies for millions of years. Now some of these descendants of dinosaurs may be following in their ancestors’ mighty footsteps.
A central food source for many species, as well as pollinators that are vital in producing the food humans eat, insects are some of the most important animals in the food chain. Without insects, we won’t survive.
With cold blood and smooth or scaly skin, these ancient animals are some of the most fascinating to find and learn about. A number of amphibians and reptiles are facing existential threats.
Click to learn how you can book our presentation and workshop to come to your school and teach you, your students, and community members about species at risk in a fun and hands-on way!
Native Prairie Conservation
Click to learn more about the species of plant currently at risk in our prairies and what must be done to prevent them from disappearing.