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

BCSS graduates off to new adventures

The BCSS Class of 2019 is the 50th cohort of Grade 12s from the school

Bunkhouse opens at Midway museum

Operators expect the nightly fee to be around $30

Chamber of commerce adjusts course after 2018 overspend

Businesses have already seen support this year from a downtown revitalization expert

Midway seniors voice hopes, fears for aging in village

The village will host another public forum on aging on July 17

Category 3 fires to be prohibited in Southeast Fire District

The prohibition will take effect at noon on Wednesday, June 12

Raptors announcer credited with calming massive crowd after shooting

Matt Devlin, the Raptors’ play-by-play announcer since 2008, was praised for preventing panic from spreading

Sexting teens at risk of harms including depression, substance use: study

Use of alcohol, cigarettes and marijuana were also found to be associated with sexting

Deadline for cabinet to decide future of Trans Mountain expansion is today

International Trade Minister Jim Carr described the decision as ‘very significant’

Victoria mom describes finding son ‘gone’ on first day of coroners inquest into overdose death

Resulting recommendations could change handling of youth records amidst the overdose crisis

Dash-cam video in trial of accused cop killer shows man with a gun

Footage is shown at trial of Oscar Arfmann, charged with killing Const. John Davidson of Abbotsford

Suicide confirmed in case of B.C. father who’d been missing for months

2018 disappearance sparked massive search for Ben Kilmer

Eight U.S. senators write to John Horgan over B.C. mining pollution

The dispute stems from Teck Resources’ coal mines in B.C.’s Elk Valley

Threats charge against Surrey’s Jaspal Atwal stayed

Atwal, 64, was at centre of controversy in 2018 over his attendance at prime minister’s reception in India

Anti-vaxxer Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to speak in Surrey

He’s keynote speaker at Surrey Environment and Business Awards luncheon by Surrey Board of Trade Sept. 17

Most Read