Nature Rarities of Southwestern Ontario | Carolinian Canada

Nature Rarities of Southwestern Ontario

Going, Going, Gone - Extinct and Extirpated Species

let us spare an unbelievable loneliness from their vanishing

Extinct: A species that no longer exists.

Extirpated: Any native species no longer existing in the wild in Ontario, but existing elsewhere in the wild.

We have already lost too many species from Ontario and the Carolinian Zone. The Passenger Pigeon was once the most common bird in North America and yet still managed to become extinct due to over-hunting and the clearing of the land. The last large flocks in southwestern Ontario were noted in the 1880s. The Blue Pike, also known as the Blue Walleye or Blue Pickerel, was once one of the most common fish in Lake Erie. Its demise has been attributed to over-fishing and the deterioration of water quality in the 1970s.

The famous biologist E.O.Wilson suggests that loss of biological diversity is the greatest crisis facing the human population. He estimates that some 170 species become extinct across the world every day.

Richard Leakey calls our ever increasing loss of species the sixth age of extinction. Unlike previous extinctions, caused by meteorites or ice ages, this extinction is so rapid that hundreds of species are disappearing every day. In just a few generations, North America has lost the Great Auk, Labrador Duck, Carolina Parakeet, Eskimo Curlew, Bachmans Warblers and most recently the gigantic Ivory-billed Woodpecker.

How many unknown species have disappeared from Ontario in the last 100 years? How many will disappear in the next 100 if we don't resolve to do better?


Passenger Pigeon, Blue Pike, Black Cisco, Deepwater Cisco

Extirpated from Ontario

  • Birds: Greater Prairie Chicken
  • Mammals: Least Shrew, Eastern Elk
  • Fish: Blue Walleye [Blue Pike, Blue Pickerel], Gravel Chub, Shortnose Cisco, Black Cisco, Paddlefish
  • Amphibians: Eastern Tiger Salamander, Spring Salamander, Blanchard's Cricket Frog
  • Butterflies: Frosted Elfin, Karner Blue, Persius Duskywing,
  • Reptiles: Timber Rattlesnake
  • Odonata: Russet-tipped Clubtail
  • Moss: Incurved Grizzled Moss, Macoun's Shining Moss
  • Sedge: Dwarf Umbrella-sedge
  • Orchid:Yellow-fringed Orchid
  • Grass: Commons's Panic Grass, Wild-rye, Black oat-grass,
  • Other Wildflowers: 23 species

Extirpated from Carolinian Canada

In 1982, Bill Stewart noted the loss of many large mammals in Elgin County: Eastern Elk (last sighted in 1790), Gray Wolf (1850's), Black Bear (1868), Marten and Fisher (1880's), Eastern Cougar (1890's), Gray Fox, Porcupine, Otter, Lynx and Bobcat.

The loss of species continues today. Eastern Badger is now found in only a handful of locations but ranged in small numbers over most of the Carolinian Zone until 30 years ago. Eastern Loggerhead Shrike has not nested in the Carolinian Zone for perhaps a decade.

What may be the last native Northern Bobwhite for the Carolinian Zone [and for Canada] are restricted to Walpole Island. There is little hope of recovery since the species has declined dramatically almost everywhere east of the Mississippi River and there are no birds available for release, as was the case with the successfully re-introduced Wild Turkey.

One of the most important goals of Carolinian Canada is to inform residents of the Carolinian Zone about the rich diversity of species that were present, are still present and will remain with us if we have the resolve to eliminate the many impacts that cause extinction or extirpation. Remember that extinction is forever!


Carolinian Canada Coalition 2009

Content based on 2004 guide by Michelle Kanter, Dave Martin, Veronique LeHouk, and Jane Bowles

Many Thanks to Photographers who donated their work for this project:
Jane Bowles, Allen Woodliffe, John Ambrose, Scott Gillingwater, Ben Porchuk, Rob Willson, Mathis Nativik, Shawn Staton, David Mihilik, Joe Milner, George Brackx, Kevin Railsback, Hamilton Conservation Authority, Essex Region Conservation Authority, Margaret Pickles, Leora Berman, Donald Kirk, Upper Thames River Conservation Authority, Larry Lamb, Peggy Hurst, Michelle Kanter, Gregory Peck, Jim Flynn and Rick Battson. 

Thanks also to expert support from Dan Kraus, Mike Nelson and Paul Smith.

 Assistance for this project was provided by the Ministry of Natural Resources.


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