Nova Scotia to Protect New Species at Risk

July 11, 2013

The barn swallow, the snapping turtle, the tri-coloured bat and the black ash tree are among the newest additions to the province’s growing list of protected plants and animals.

Nineteen new species were added today, July 11, bringing the total to 60 species on the protected list.

“These additions are a first step in identifying and protecting new species at risk,” said Natural Resources Minister Charlie Parker. “Everyone has a role to play in their recovery, especially landowners and others who may have direct contact with these species.”

Three species of bats were added to the list after an estimated 90 per cent population decline over the past two years. A disease called white-nose syndrome has killed millions of bats throughout eastern North America.

The province is supporting research on threats to the bat population by investing $94,000 from the Species at Risk Conservation Fund in 11 projects. These projects are primarily supported by vehicle owners who purchase a conservation license plate.

A project at Saint Mary’s University is examining the genetic characteristics of bats that survive white-nose syndrome. The team, led by Hugh Broders, will receive $10,000.

“Our goal is to take important initial steps towards examining bat resistance to the outbreak,” said Mr. Broders. “We are hoping to identify the extent to which natural selection may permit bat populations to rebound following an infection of white-nose syndrome.”

“Although there is no health risk to people, the public is encouraged to stay out of caves and old mines that are home to bats to avoid cross-contamination,” said Mr. Parker.

Other projects include a strategic population monitoring plan for the Blanding’s turtle, habitat modelling for at risk land birds in southwestern Nova Scotia, and improved monitoring and conservation for Bicknell’s thrush in Cape Breton.

Plants can also be declared endangered. The black ash tree is significant to the aboriginal people who used it to make baskets, wicker canoe seats and for many other purposes for centuries. There are only 12 known mature trees in the province.

A full list of provincial species at risk, and this year’s supported projects, is on the department’s website.