University Helps Endangered Lizards

August 26, 2014

BRANDON, MB – Manitoba’s only lizard, the endangered northern prairie skink, will receive new protection thanks to efforts by a researcher from Brandon University (BU).

Dr. Pam Rutherford, Associate Professor in the Department of Biology, has convinced the Canadian Herpetological Society to designate Spruce Woods Provincial Park an Important Amphibian & Reptile Area. The park, an hour’s drive southeast of Brandon, is the only place in Canada where the lizards have been found.

Juvenile skink at Spruce Woods Provincial Park

Juvenile skink at Spruce Woods Provincial Park

The northern prairie skink is a small brown reptile about the length of your hand. Juveniles have bright blue tails but the colour fades when they mature.

“The skink is not found anywhere else in Canada, so it’s vulnerable, especially to human activities,” says Dr. Rutherford, a long-time skink researcher. “Protecting their home will help the survival of the Manitoba skink population.”

“This is a significant designation,” says Sloan Cathcart, Head of Interpretation for Manitoba Parks. “The only other Manitoba location with the same protected status is the snake pits at Narcisse. Pam’s work to secure the designation will certainly raise awareness and, we hope, lead to increased conservation.”

BU’s Dean of Science, Andrew Egan, says, “At Brandon University, we are always conscious of the delicate balance between conservation and progress. Dr. Rutherford’s work will help maintain an ecological harmony while considering the wider use of the area.”

Brandon University, founded in 1899, promotes excellence in teaching, research, and scholarship; educating students so that they can make a meaningful difference as engaged citizens and leaders.


For more information, please contact:

Dr. Pam Rutherford
Associate Professor, Dept. of Biology

Glen Kirby
Communications Officer