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Protecting Species at Risk on the Sunshine Coast

December 20, 2017

For the past seven years, the Gencon Foundation has been supporting the Sunshine Coast Wildlife Project in its mission to conserve the Sunshine Coast’s precious natural heritage for generations to come. 

A particular focus of the work that will be done in 2018 will be to evaluate the status and habitat of species at risk on the Sunshine Coast. Click on the pictures below for more information on the species, and the work being done to conserve them.

(All pictures and text from the Sunshine Coast Wildlife Project)


Western Painted Turtle

A biological treasure, the Western Painted Turtle has delighted Sunshine Coast residents for generations. Yet this stunningly beautiful species, BC’s only native freshwater turtle, is declining and faces multiple significant threats.  The Pacific Coast population is federally endangered and provincially red-listed. 



Pacific Water Shrew

Federally endangered and provincially red-listed, the Pacific Water Shrew is at risk due to destruction of its wetland and riparian habitat.  Even with intensive survey effort, this elusive mammal is near impossible to find. 





Northern Goshawk

 The coastal subpopulation of Northern Goshawk is provincially red-listed, federally threatened, and classified as ‘Identified Wildlife’ under the BC Forest and Range Practices Act.  Only 1000 mature individuals are estimated to occur in Canada, representing half of the global population, and populations are apparently declining throughout the range. This raptor prefers extensive forests with large stands of mature trees and is threatened by loss and fragmentation of nesting and foraging habitat, and related subsequent reductions in prey diversity and availability.   



Rubber Boa

The Northern Rubber Boa is federally classified as a species of special concern. It is the only Canadian member of the Boa family (the same family that includes Anacondas and Boa Constrictors!).  These snakes are tan, brown, or olive in colour and 35 to 80 cm long with a thick body resembling a rubbery tube. This gentle, docile species is often used to help people who are frightened of snakes overcome their fear. The nocturnal species is rarely seen; it spends substantial time hiding underground in rodent burrows and beneath rocky outcrops and woody debris. 


Sharp-tailed Snake

The elusive Sharp-tailed Snake is federally endangered and provincially red-listed. It is a flagship species for conservation of Coastal Douglas-Fir woodlands, and prefers sunny, south-facing openings in Douglas Fir - Arbutus forests. This species is tiny and delicate, less than 30 cm long. Juveniles are red, while adults are chestnut brown.




Western Screech-Owl

The coastal subspecies of Western Screech-Owl is federally threatened and provincially blue-listed.  These owls have experienced dramatic population declines since the 1990s, both in the northern part of the range, and on the South Coast where they have almost completely disappeared. Population declines are thought to be related to loss of mature trees required for nesting, along with newly established populations of Barred Owls, which predate upon Screech-Owls.



Little Brown Bat

Bats are essential components of British Columbia’s biodiversity.  Unfortunately, bats are also highly threatened with half of BC’s bat species officially listed as species at risk. Key threats to BC bats include habitat loss and degradation, deliberate or accidental human disturbance, environmental contamination, and disease.



Red-legged Frog

Northern Red-legged Frogs are named for their colourful legs. Important habitat for these frogs includes forested pools, wetlands with shallow water (particularly bogs and fens), and fringes of lakes. Juveniles and adults spend much of their time on land; up to 90% of feeding and growth occurs terrestrially, typically in cool, moist forested environments.  Thus the species requires intact upland habitat adjacent to breeding sites in order to maintain viable populations. Red-legged Frogs are disappearing from many areas of the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island but they are still fairly common in the wetlands of the Sunshine Coast.


Western Toad

The Western Toad was once abundant throughout western North America, but has recently experienced devastating declines, with large populations disappearing mysteriously from many areas, including parts of BC.  Important breeding habitat for the species includes shallow, warm ponds, lake margins, slow-flowing streams, marshes, bogs and fens.  


Barn Swallow

Barn Swallow.  One of world’s most widespread and common birds, this insect-eating species has experienced large population decreases that began in the mid-1980s in Canada.  The Breeding Bird Survey showed an overall decline of 76% in the 40 years from 1970 to 2009, and a drop of 30% from 1999 to 2009.   The causes of this decline are not well understood but are thought to be related to habitat loss, declines in insect populations, climate perturbations, parasites, invasive species and pesticides. The species is now federally designated as threatened and provincially blue-listed.



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Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada 

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Photo Credit: Street to Peak

                        Orca Lab: Jared Towers ©