Zoo and LEPS working to protect fish habitat

Volunteers helped restore a section of the Salmon River that flows through the Greater Vancouver Zoo property

Volunteers from Greater Vancouver Zoo and Langley Environmental Partners Society (LEPS) worked together to restore a section of the Salmon River that flows through the zoo property.

From Nov. 7 to 10, staff and volunteers from both organizations removed invasive plant species, namely Himalayan blackberry, and replaced it with native plant species to create more favourable habitat for the endangered Salish sucker and other native wildlife.

The Salish sucker is a small, genetically diverse species of fish, at risk of extinction in Canada.

The GVZoo’s section of the river has deep pools that are important habitat for the Salish sucker’s survival during the warmer months when shallow parts of the river become dry.

Invasive species removal efforts began after local environmental groups, biologists and waterways experts met to discuss and plan restoration of the zoo’s section of the Salmon River.

“I was initially surprised at how much interest we had from the local community regarding the Salmon River Restoration Project at the Greater Vancouver Zoo,” said the zoo’s animal care manager, Menita Prasad.

“Raising public awareness about endangered species and the importance of healthy ecosystems is hugely important for conserving them. This is a wonderful opportunity for the local community to get involved with restoration activities that will benefit local flora and fauna.”

LEPS and the GVZoo team started along a section of the river bank in the southeast corner of the zoo, cutting away blackberry prickles.

The Salmon River is a 40-km long, culturally important tributary of the Fraser River that provides important habitat for a variety of native species including wild  coho and steelhead salmon.