Scientists Criticize Endangered Species Bill. (Notes)

Article excerpt

Canada is the "missing link" when it comes to endangered species protection, according to 1331 of the world's top scientists. The scientists sent a harsh letter to Jean Chretien this past September (2001) criticizing the federal government's proposed Species at Risk Act (SARA).

The signatories to the letter included geneticist David Suzuki, chimpanzee expert Jane Goodall and 113 fellows of the Royal Society of Canada.

The letter points out that while SARA does have some strengths, such as recovery plans for listed species at risk, the act fails to deliver the safeguards needed to protect Canada's 352 known species at risk.

Critics say that the main problem of the bill is that it does not protect an endangered species' habitat. SARA only prohibits the killing of species at risk if they are found on federal land, if they are aquatic species or if they are protected by the Migratory Birds Act. And even in these areas of federal jurisdiction, the bill states that the government "may", not "will" protect endangered species habitat.

In their letter, the scientists say that "a homeless species is a doomed one," and that habitat protection is the key to species protection.

Another problem noted by critics is that politicians, not scientists, will decide which species to list as endangered. Former drafts of the bill used the endangered species list developed by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. As an independent organization of wildlife experts, the committee has been updating the list for over 22 years. …