Wed. Apr 24th, 2024

Alberta is working to ensure the survival of a species of falcons threatened with extinction

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The number of ferruginous hawks has seen an increase significant decline in Alberta between 1992 and 2000.


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North America's largest hawk, the ferruginous hawk, has been an endangered species for nearly 20 years. To ensure the presence of the falcon in the province's prairies, the government is updating its conservation plan.

The predator that lives in the native grasslands of the southeast of the province has seen its population decline by 40% since the pre-colonization period, according to data from the provincial conservation plan.

In 2014, the Ministry of the Environment and Protected Areas established a first action plan to slow down the decline and keep an eye on the evolution of the populations of the large hawk.

The following year, 600 to 700 pairs of birds were recorded, which the government considers a low threshold. There has been a slow increase since.

The updated plan released Wednesday will focus on the main threats facing the predator. These include loss of habitat, reduced nesting opportunities, decline in prey numbers, increase in competing predators, indirect mortality caused by humans and climate change.

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The habitat of the ferruginous hawk (in pink) is the native grassland ecosystem, which is located in the southeast of the province.

The long-term goal of this plan is to reduce the average population to 1300 pairs of Ferruginous Hawks. In the short term, the target number is 800 couples, which is to maintain the current population.

Among the strategies developed, the province is focusing on reduction of human impact on habitat and maintenance of remaining native grasslands.

Ensuring grasslands are maintained for species like the ferruginous hawk is critical, says Brad Downey, senior biologist with the Alberta Conservation Association.

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Native grasslands are also one of the most threatened ecosystems in the world, according to the Nature Conservancy of Canada.

The collaboration of the owners of grazing land is essential, as Brad Downey explains, as long as natural grasslands remain intact.

The Minister of Agriculture Alberta Environment and Protected Areas, Rebecca Schulz, explains that these conservation measures will span years and require the collaboration of many partners.

According to the government, the plan was developed and will be implemented by indigenous communities, conservation groups and other stakeholders, such as the agricultural industry.

With information from Taylor Braat

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