Species at Risk
Guardian of Endangered Species
Red Mulberry (Morus rubra) is a rare native tree that is on the endangered species list. The Niagara Gorge has 21 known trees and is one of only 10 sites in Ontario where the tree is reported. It is in the top three sites along with Pelee Island (37 trees) and Point Pelee National Park (22 trees). The Red Mulberry Recovery Team consists of members from Provincial Parks, Universities, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Conservation Authorities, National Parks and Field Naturalists as well as individuals. Our staff work with this and other Species at Risk Recovery Teams including: Deerberry, Peregrine Falcon, Karner Blue Butterfly, Tallgrass Community and American Chestnut.
Niagara Glen Nature Reserve
(In 2010 a new trail head sign was erected at the Niagara Glen to inform visitors about Species at Risk):
Ontario is home to an amazing diversity of wild plants and animals. The Niagara Glen is a refuge for many of these interesting species. However, many of our native species are in trouble. For example, the Niagara Gorge and its environs historically supported over 600 plant species, but today, fewer than 400 species remain.
Species at Risk Designations
EXTINCT - any species that no longer exists anywhere
EXTIRPATED - any native species that no longer exists in the wild in Ontario, but exists elsewhere
ENDANGERED - any native species facing extinction or extirpation in Ontario
THREATENED - any native species that is at risk of becoming endangered in Ontario
SPECIAL CONCERN - any native species that is sensitive to human activities or natural events
Species at Risk - Act today so they have tomorrow!
The Northern Dusky Salamander is only found in the Niagara Gorge in Ontario. This ENDANGERED species lives in only a few coldwater seeps along the face of the gorge. (Note: Confirmation of its continued existence in the Gorge was recorded in July 2004 in conjunction with Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) wildlife staff. Ongoing monitoring will assist Niagara Parks to understand more about this little-known creature.
Deerberry is a THREATENED shrub species in the blueberry family. There is a small deerberry population near the Whirlpool in the Niagara Gorge. The only other population in Ontario is near Kingston!
The Snapping Turtle is a species of SPECIAL CONCERN. This once common species is the largest freshwater turtle in Canada and spends most of its life in water.
"Space Invaders" are introduced plants, insects, fish and animals that displace our native species from their natural habitats. Non-native species often originate from outside North America, in such places as Europe and Asia. These species spread rapidly because they lack predators and diseases that would control their population growth.
Garlic Mustard, from Europe, is a cold season biennial plant that appears early in spring before most Ontario wildflowers. It produces large quantities of seed so once established it literally chokes out the native flora.
You can help control the spread of invasive tree species, such as Norway Maple and White Mulberry by choosing instead to plant native species, such as Sugar Maple and Redbud trees.
Have You Seen These?
You will never see a Passenger Pigeon because they are EXTINCT. They were once the most abundant bird species on the planet with a population estimated to be between 3-5 BILLION in the early 1800's. Today, there are none.
The last Timber Rattlesnake in the Niagara Gorge was seen in 1941. They are now a species deemed EXTIRPATED in Ontario. Unfortunately all species of rattlesnakes are often killed deliberately by people. The only native wild rattlesnake species remaining in Ontario is the Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake. Its status is THREATENED.
American Ginseng has been EXTIRPATED from the Niagara Glen. However, there are wild populations in other locations in Ontario. This species is at risk because of illegal harvesting for its roots, which are said to have medicinal properties.
While EXTINCT species are gone forever, EXTIRPATED species might someday be returned to their historic habitats.