News release

National Wildlife Week

"Climate is Changing - Help Wildlife Weather the Storm" is the theme for this year's National Wildlife Week, which runs until Saturday, April 13.

National Wildlife Week is focusing on the impacts of climate change on Canada's wildlife and its habitat. Many species are struggling as a result of warming temperatures, rising sea levels and catastrophic weather events.

"As Canadians and Nova Scotians, we need to learn more about the value of wildlife, the potential impacts of climate change on wildlife species and their habitats, and the need to conserve them," said Natural Resources Minister Ernest Fage.

Staff with the Department of Natural Resources' wildlife division are working on several projects that include studying the effects of climate change and will benefit the province's wild species over time.

A program called the General Status of Wild Species in Nova Scotia, monitors and reports on the status of wildlife in Nova Scotia. This program provides an overall indication of how well wild species are doing in Nova Scotia.

"This allows us to identify those species most in need of immediate conservation and recovery action," said Mr. Fage. "We can track any changes in populations by gathering this information on a regular and ongoing basis."

Many of Nova Scotia's wild species are at the southern or northern limit of their range. This means that they are living as far north or south as they are normally found in North America. As a result, changes in climate may affect them more directly. The general status of wild species is available on the department's Web site and currently includes information about birds, mammals, freshwater fishes, amphibians/reptiles, butterflies, dragonflies and damselflies, freshwater mussels and vascular plants.

The Department of Natural Resources is also using satellite-based technology to update the province's wetland inventory. This will help the department monitor changes to these ecosystems, which may be caused by climate change.

Another project the department has been working on is a co- operative study of the mainland moose population. This study is looking at what may be causing the decline of the mainland moose herd, which may be partly linked to climate change. This study is a partnership among government, the forest industry, wildlife organizations and universities.

The lynx population on Cape Breton Island is also currently being evaluated under the Nova Scotia Endangered Species Act. This evaluation was initiated to look at what factors may be affecting the lynx, such as changes in its environment.

Many environmental changes are happening so fast that plants and animals may be unable to adapt.

"National Wildlife Week is an opportunity for all of us to be more aware of our environment and to be aware of how climate change may affect our natural world," said the minister.

FOR BROADCAST USE:

This week is National Wildlife Week. It runs until Saturday, April 13th.

The theme for the week focuses on climate change and its impact on Canada's wildlife and its habitat.

Nova Scotia's Department of Natural Resources staff are working on several projects that include studying the effects of climate change on our surroundings.

They include a program on the status of wildlife in Nova Scotia; updating the province's wetland inventory; a study on the mainland moose population; and an evaluation of the Cape Breton lynx population.

National Wildlife Week is an opportunity for Nova Scotians to be more aware of the environment and how climate change may affect our natural world.

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Contact:

Susan Mader Zinck
Natural Resources 902-424-5239 E-mail:
kjd            April 9, 2002       2:40 P.M.