Scientific Name: Oxytropis lagopus
Taxonomy Group: Vascular Plants
Last COSEWIC Assessment: May 2014
Last COSEWIC Designation: Threatened
SARA Status: Schedule 3, Special Concern - (SARA Schedule 1 provisions do not apply)
Image of Hare-footed Locoweed
The Hare-footed Locoweed is a member of the pea family. It has silky, silvery herbage, and stands up to 13 cm tall. The flowers are bluish-purple and are 13 to 16 mm in length. The leaves are 3 to 11 cm long with 5 to 17 leaflets. Keels of petals have sharp, pointed ends, distinguishing this species from the similar Milk Vetch. The erect pods measure 6 to 15 mm in length and inflate upon maturing.
Distribution and Population
The Hare-footed Locoweed is native to and widespread in the Rocky Mountains. In the United States, it can be found from Wyoming to western Montana and Idaho. In Canada, it is limited to southwestern Alberta. The Canadian populations occur in a very restricted area of ridges and hills around the western section of North Milk River (near the Montana border, south of Cardston). The area is bounded by Whiskey Gap to the west, Lake Shanks region to the east and Ross Lake area to the north. Some 10 000 to 20 000 plants occur at eight different sites within this area of Alberta. The majority of these occur around Lake Shanks. Population trends are difficult to predict, since data have only been collected twice, once in 1986 and again in 1993, from a select number of sites.
Alberta populations of Hare-footed Locoweed grow on unglaciated, gravelly soils of the Milk River Ridge. The plant usually grows in 10-metre-wide strips along upper slopes or plateau rims of steep ridges, where the soil is characterized by a brown chernozem. Other features include dry grassland, low winter precipitation, high evaporation rates and fast run-off. The Milk River Ridge is known to be an important area for rare and unusual species of plants.
The species is a perennial that reproduces through pollen production. The Alberta populations actively produce fruit and set seed. Farmers consider the plant hazardous, since extensive grazing has been known to poison and sometimes kill livestock.
There are a number of factors that threaten this plant, the biggest being gravel extraction. Grazing is known to limit the plant's use of available habitat, and cultivation of natural habitats has eliminated many sites as well. The Hare-footed Locoweed at most of the remaining sites are probably safe from cultivation because they are on steep inclines.
Species that have been designated at risk by COSEWIC since the Species at Risk Act (SARA) was written must be added to Schedule 1 through a regulatory amendment. Information on this procedure is available in the Assessment section. If Hare-footed Locoweed is added to Schedule 1, it will benefit from the protections afforded by SARA. More information about SARA, including how it protects individual species, is available in the Species at Risk Act: A Guide.
The decision to end gravel extraction at Alberta's Ross Lake Community Pasture has been the only active measure to ensure species' continued survival.
Provincial and Territorial Protection
PLEASE NOTE: Not all COSEWIC reports are currently available on the SARA Public Registry. Most of the reports not yet available are status reports for species assessed by COSEWIC prior to May 2002. Other COSEWIC reports not yet available may include those species assessed as Extinct, Data Deficient or Not at Risk. In the meantime, they are available on request from the COSEWIC Secretariat.
4 record(s) found.
- COSEWIC Status Reports (1 record(s) found.)
- Response Statements (1 record(s) found.)
- COSEWIC Annual Reports (1 record(s) found.)
- Consultation Documents (1 record(s) found.)
COSEWIC Status Reports
COSEWIC Annual Reports
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