Horned Lizard makes comeback in Alberta
Published Sunday, August 23, 2009 3:56PM MDT
The only lizard native to Alberta may be making a comeback.
University of Calgary researchers found populations of the "Greater Short Horned Lizard" have rebounded from 2004, but their numbers are still far below what they were thirty years ago.
Magdalene Leung and her research assistant Michael Sveen have spent much of the summer scouring the hills along the Milk River, searching for the Greater Short Horned Lizard, and updating information that University of Calgary researcher Tony Russell first began collecting in 1979.
At one time, Horned Lizards ranged as far north as the Red Deer River in Alberta. Northern populations have been declining, partly because of the affects of industry, agriculture and irrigation.
Horned Lizards are the only species of lizard native to Alberta. Their short horns offer some protection from predators, and there unique in other ways too.
Researchers tell me you might find several lizards on one small hill, then have to travel fifteen kilometers or father to find the next population. This summer, they're not only counting and documenting the lizards, but also taking DNA samples to compare the lizards in different areas.
Researchers from the University of Calgary will be analyzing this years data over the winter, and hope to continue their field work next summer.
Researchers are urging farmers and ranchers in southern Alberta to contact Fish and Wildlife if they come across Horned Lizards, or know of existing areas where they can be found.