Campaign Chronicles - A2A Species at Risk


Species at Risk

In March 2012 CPAWS provided comments to the provincial Ministry of Natural Resources on proposed amendments to the Endangered Species Act. These comments include a recommendation that the Act establish a program to protect each of the Species at Risk identified in the Algonquin to Adirondacks  (A2A) Region, especially the Rapids Clubtail dragonfly and the Gray Ratsnake.

The Rapids Clubtail is a relatively small, 42 to 45 millimetres long, brightly coloured dragonfly. Its eyes are bluish-green, with a light yellowish-green face that is striped with two dark lines, a brownish-black and yellowish-green striped body and transparent wings. Like all dragonflies, the Rapids Clubtail begins its life as an aquatic larva and transforms into a winged adult during the summer. The female Rapids Clubtail lays her eggs in the rapids, they then float downstream and sink to the muddy/gravelly bottom of the runout pool, where they hatch and develop.

These elusive creatures can be hard to detect, which is why we have recommended that the Plan extend from 5 to 10 years the period they can go without detection before they are considered extirpated in the area. We have also recommended that the protected area be 800 metres from the high water mark rather than the 200 metres in the draft Plan.

The Rapids Clubtail was the first Ontario dragonfly to be listed as endangered, in 2009, but it may not be alone on the list for long. Almost a quarter of the province’s 171 dragonfly and damselfly species exist in fewer than 20 known locations across Ontario or are otherwise in serious trouble, according to the Natural Heritage Information Centre of the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR).

The Gray Ratsnake, formerly known as the Black Ratsnake, is Ontario's largest snake, attaining a length of 200 centimetres or more. Adults are shiny black, with a white chin and throat, while young snakes are grey with dark blotching on the body and tail. They are constrictors and feed mostly on rodents or birds, although frogs and other snakes are also eaten. The Frontenac Axis  population prefers edge habitats, particularly old fields next to deciduous forest, and can often be found in hollow logs or rock crevices, or basking on bedrock outcrops.  The Frontenac Axis links the Canadian Shield with the Adirondack mountain range in New York, an extension of the Laurentian mountains of Québec. The axis separates the St. Lawrence Lowlands and the Great Lakes Lowlands.

We are concerned that the habitat regulation of 1,000 metres proposed in the Draft Plan is insufficient to protect the area of hibernation and have recommended protecting a larger area of within 2,000 metres of any area used by the Ratsnake. We have also recommended giving the Ratsnake an elevated priority in the Murphy’s Point management planning process.

View the complete details of the Gray Ratsnake [PDF] and Rapids Clubtail [PDF] Recovery Strategies for more information.