Northern Spotted Owls are an endangered owl that inhabits ancient forests with cathedral-like canopies where rays of the sun sift through several canopies before reaching the moist, mossy ground. (Photo by Paul Bannick)

conservation

B.C. should take ‘new approach’ to protecting endangered species: report

The province is in the works of creating first-of-its-kind laws focused on protecting the 278 at-risk species that live in B.C.

A group of conservationists and academics are calling on the B.C. government to uphold its promise of creating legislation to better protect the province’s 278 endangered species.

Despite being home to more at-risk animals than any other province in the country, B.C. currently has no law designed to protect endangered species, according to a report released Tuesday by an 18-member panel of experts that includes professors from universities across B.C., Alberta, and the Yukon.

“With the populations of wildlife species declining and accusations of negligence, B.C. needs to step up its game,” the report’s lead author, Alana Westwood, said in a news release.

“In order to recover species like caribou, spotted frogs, and spotted owls, we all need to roll up our sleeves to support meaningful action.”

In 1996, B.C. signed on to the National Accord for the Protection of Species at Risk, but has never had its own dedicated laws. Instead, it has used the Wildlife Act, Forest and Range Practices Act and others to help manage species at risk.

READ MORE: Endangered killer whale dies off B.C. coast soon after birth

READ MORE: International call for action to save B.C.’s old-growth rainforests

Following a mandate letter sent by Premier John Horgan in 2017, B.C.’s environment ministry is considering input from experts and drafting legislation, which is anticipated to be introduced next year.

But the experts are urging a quicker and more novel approach, one that would involve an independent scientific body to oversee assessment, recovery planning and reporting on government accountability.

The conservationists said this would include recovery teams that could be quickly assembled when multiple species at risk are found in the same place or face the same threat.

“Prioritizing actions and bundling them together means that we can wisely spend time, effort, and resources to protect and recover biodiversity,” said Brian Starzomski, professor at the University of Victoria. “If the goal is to stop species from going extinct, we have to be smart about it and act fast.”

The report also recommends more specific tracking of how populations are doing and gauging if the action being taken at the time is truly benefiting the animals.

“What we need is ongoing and very transparent reporting about how species at risk are actually doing. If our initial actions don’t work, we need to know that, and we need to rethink our actions,” said Karen Hodges, a professor at UBC Okanagan.

The report also recommends that the legislation include a formal process the government must undergo for if it decides not to recover a species from extinction.

The ministry of environment said in an emailed statement to Black Press Media that input from academic experts and the public are underway as it creates proposed legislation.

“Developing legislation of this magnitude and scope takes a great deal of consultation with stakeholders, Indigenous nations, and the public, and we’re taking the time we need to get it right,” the ministry said.


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Last stop: The inside story of Queen City Shuttle and Charters’ closure

Former employees open up about the Nelson company’s final days

How the Queen City Shuttle and Charters’ closure affected you

Here’s what readers had to say about the company’s shutdown

LETTER: Clearing up men’s conference confusion

From conference organizer Jeff Zak

IODE and Kootenay Emergency Response celebrate partnership

IODE has pledged $30,000 to KERPA over the next three years

Andrew Bellerby out as RDCK’s regional fire chief

Bellerby held the job since January 2016

Feds lowered poverty line, reducing the number of seniors in need: documents

Liberals introduced a poverty line that was below the prior low-income cutoff

BCHL: Alberni Valley Bulldogs have been sold

Victoria company has purchased BCHL team, but will keep it in Port Alberni

“Does Kirby care?” B.C. First Nation’s group using geo-targeted ads in Houston, Texas for justice

The Heiltsuk Tribal Council has called out Kirby Corporation for the Nathan E. Stewart oil spill

Trudeau announces $79M investment for 118 more public transit buses across B.C.

Contributions from municipal to federal level to fund more buses in a bid to cut commutes

B.C. woman wins record $2.1 million on casino slot machine

‘That night was so surreal … I wasn’t able to sleep or eat for the first two days,’ she said

After B.C. dad’s death, Technical Safety BC wants changes to trampoline park rules

Jay Greenwood, 46, did ‘a series of acrobatic manoeuvres prior to a fall that caused serious injury and cardiac arrest’

$900M settlement reached in class action on sexual misconduct in Canadian military

After facing criticism, the government moved to begin settlement proceedings in early 2018

Tax take stays ahead of increased B.C. government spending

Tax revenue $2.1 billion higher than budget in 2018-19

Two toddler siblings found drowned on First Nation in Alberta

The siblings were found drowned on their family’s property, according to RCMP

Most Read