Salmon assessments point to ecosystems in crisis: WWF-Canada says

CBJ Newsmakers

Chinook salmon, American bumblebee, wood turtle and polar bear among assessed at-risk species

Toronto, Dec. 04, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — The addition of 13 populations of Chinook salmon from Vancouver Island, Thompson and Fraser rivers to the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife’s (COSEWIC) list of species assessed as at-risk in this region points to an ecosystem in crisis, WWF-Canada says.


Megan Leslie, CEO and president of WWF-Canada, says:

“These individual, at-risk designations add up to paint a bigger picture of an ecosystem in trouble. We now have southern resident killer whales fighting to reproduce and survive in an increasingly busy, noisy and degraded environment. Their main food source of Chinook salmon has just been assessed as being at risk of extinction, with 13 populations from Vancouver Island, the Thompson River and Fraser River included in COSEWIC’s recommendations. Add that to 16 Sockeye salmon populations, and dozens of other species already assessed as being at-risk in this region – something is terribly wrong here.


“Chinook salmon have had to contend with warmer water temperatures that affect life-cycle events, degradation of both their freshwater and marine habitats, and fishing. The simple fact is by the time the orcas go to eat, too few Chinook are left to keep them alive and healthy.


“We can’t keep adding more stressors to these already overloaded, interconnected ecosystems. We need to look after the region in its entirety, from headwaters to the ocean – and any and all development decisions must be made through this lens. We need to act quickly to reduce threats to wildlife, and prioritize actions that have the best chance of success.”



Other species assessed by COSEWIC include polar bear (Special Concern) and the American bumble bee (Special Concern).


Brandon Laforest, senior specialist, Arctic species and ecosystems at WWF-Canada, says:

“Seven years after being listed as at-risk, polar bears remain of Special Concern and yet have no federal management plan. While co-management that incorporates science and traditional knowledge has been largely successful to date, we must continue to work together to address threats – primarily, sea ice loss due to climate change. While acting to ensure populations are as resilient as possible, rapid global efforts to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions are needed to ensure a healthy future for polar bears. We also must make public safety a top priority; investment in reducing human-polar bear conflict will be critical as polar bears come into more conflict with northern communities.”



Emily Giles, senior species specialist at WWF-Canada, says:

“The American bumble bee has joined the ranks of seven species of native bees in Canada assessed as being at risk of extinction due to threats from climate change, pesticides and habitat loss. The precipitous decline of native bee populations over the past few decades is serious, not only for bees but for humans, too, as bees are the most important pollinators of the food we eat. To help native bee populations – and other wildlife facing troubling declines – we must act to restore natural landscapes and the naturally occurring plants that together provide essential habitat.”


Species assessed or re-assessed as at-risk include:

  • Chinook salmon – 16 populations in the Fraser River, Vancouver Island, and Thompson River – assessed as Endangered (8 populations), Threatened (4 populations), Special Concern (1 population), Not at Risk (1 population), Data Deficient (2 populations).
  • Polar bear – reassessed as being of Special Concern.
  • Wood turtle – reassessed as Threatened.
  • American bumble bee – assessed as being of Special Concern.
  • Black ash – assessed as Threatened.
  • Find the full list here.


For more information on species decline in Canada, please see Living Planet Report Canada.


About World Wildlife Fund Canada

WWF-Canada creates solutions to the environmental challenges that matter most for Canadians. We work in places that are unique and ecologically important, so that nature, wildlife and people thrive together. Because we are all wildlife. For more information, visit


For further information

Rebecca Spring, senior communications specialist,, +1 647-338-6274




CONTACT: Rebecca Spring
+1 647-338-6274