Toronto Zoo Sends Endangered Eastern Loggerhead Shrikes to Ontario for Release into the Wild

TORONTO, ON, Wednesday, August 21, 2019: The Toronto Zoo continues its efforts to support important conservation efforts with the recent shipment of Eastern Loggerhead shrikes (ELS) for release into the wild. Toronto Zoo participates in a  conservation breeding program to help this endangered Canadian species, which are bred at one of our specialized conservation breeding centres along Meadowvale Road. This year’s shrike fledglings were picked up on, Monday, August 19, 2019, are bound for Carden Ontario for release.The eastern subspecies of the loggerhead shrike is one of the most imperiled birds in North America. In Canada, loggerhead shrikes are now only found in a few isolated pockets of grasslands in Ontario, Quebec, and Manitoba. They used to be found readily from southwestern Manitoba, east to the Maritime Provinces.

In 1991, in response to a rapidly declining population, the Committee on the Status of Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) listed the eastern loggerhead shrike as endangered, and it is now protected by provincial endangered species legislation in Ontario, Manitoba, and Quebec. In 1992, a Loggerhead Shrike Recovery Team was formed and recovery plans were produced by 1994. In 1997, when only 100 eastern loggerhead shrikes were estimated to remain in all of Canada and a mere 18 pairs could be found in Ontario, Environment Canada established a captive population to ensure that the unique genetic material of these birds would be preserved. Between 1997 and 1998, 43 young birds were brought into captivity and the first captive breeding followed shortly thereafter. The Toronto Zoo has been involved in the conservation breeding of the ELS since the program’s inception and have produced 274 shrikes to support this recovery effort.

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