Extinct and Extirpated Mammals in Canada

Records indicate that Canada has lost five mammals in recent history. All but one of these is also extinct globally.

Though gone from Canada, black-footed ferrets still survive in the United States. They became extinct in the wild in 1987 when the last remaining wild ferrets were captured. The animals have since bred in captivity and their descendants released into former ferret range in several US states.

Mammals extinct in Canada.
Common Name Scientific Name Gone From
Black-footed Ferret Mustela nigripes Alberta, Saskatchewan
Vancouver Island Wolverine Gulo gulo vancouverensis British Columbia
Eastern Elk Cervus elaphus canadensis Ontario, Quebec
Dawson Caribou Rangifer tarandus dawsoni British Columbia
Atlantic Gray Whale Eschrichtius robustus Quebec
Sea Mink Neovison macrodon New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia

A lack of recent confirmed sightings or other evidence suggests that three more mammals might have vanished from Canada. The Washington southern red-backed vole (Myodes gapperi occidentalis) was previously found in BC, and the North American least shrew (Cryptotis parva) is missing from Ontario. Eastern cougars (Puma concolor cougar) may be gone from Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, and are likely also extinct in the United States.

Provincial Losses of Mammals

Mammal diversity in most Canadian provinces has declined. The 14 species and subspecies listed below are entirely extirpated from their historical range in some provinces. That is, these animals no longer inhabit all the provinces that they used to.

Mammals extirpated from Canadian provinces.
Common Name Scientific Name Gone From
Gray Wolf Canis lupus New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island
Swift Fox Vulpes velox Manitoba
Canadian Lynx Lynx canadensis Prince Edward Island
Wolverine Gulo gulo New Brunswick
American Marten Martes americana Prince Edward Island
Fisher Martes pennanti Prince Edward Island
Black Bear Ursus americanus Prince Edward Island
Grizzly Bear Ursus arctos Saskatchewan, Manitoba
Caribou Rangifer tarandus New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island
Pronghorn Antelope Antilocapra americana Manitoba
Plains Bison Bos bison bison Alberta
Wood Bison Bos bison athabascae Saskatchewan
Muskox Ovibos moschatus Manitoba
Atlantic Walrus Odobenus rosmarus New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island

In addition to these confirmed provincial losses, five more mammals have probably disappeared from individual provinces. In the prairie provinces it seems taiga voles (Microtus xanthognathus) have left Alberta and Manitoba, and the bushy-tailed woodrat (Neotoma cinerea) is now absent from Saskatchewan. White-tailed jackrabbits (Lepus townsendii) have possibly vanished from BC and Ontario.

The ranges of two marine mammals have contracted substantially. North Pacific right whales (Eubalaena japonica) haven't been seen off the BC coast in 50 years. Walruses, besides confirmed as extirpated from the smaller maritime provinces, likely no longer exist in Quebec.

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