Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Ontario's Environmental Watchdog Says Moose in Decline, More Species Are at Risk

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Ontario's Environmental Watchdog Says Moose in Decline, More Species Are at Risk

Article excerpt

Watchdog warns more species at risk

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TORONTO - Ontario's environmental watchdog warns the province needs to do more to stem a 20 per cent drop in the moose population in a decade and steep declines in several species of bats and amphibians.

Environmental commissioner Dianne Saxe said the Liberal government needs to "walk the walk" and put words into action to combat wildlife declines, control invasive species and implement better forest fire management practices.

"The government often talks the talk when it comes to conserving Ontario's biodiversity, but that's not enough," Saxe said as she released her annual report.

"Every single one of the 98,000 licensed moose hunters in Ontario is allowed to kill a calf every year, and that's three times as many hunters as there are calves born."

Natural Resources Minister Kathryn McGarry said Ontario shortened the hunt for moose calves to just two weeks last year, and delayed the moose hunt by one week this year, but it is not considering an outright ban to protect the population.

"At this point no, but we need more research into the subject and we will be looking at the results of this year's hunt and the numbers," said McGarry.

Saxe said the ministry had done very little to protect Ontario's moose.

"They've made some small adjustments to moose hunting, but (taken) no action at all to preserve their habitat," she said. "And the ministry is trying to manage this important species with far too little information."

NDP environment critic Peter Tabuns agreed the government doesn't have adequate data to properly manage the risks to Ontario's moose population.

"They're flying blind," said Tabuns. "If you're not monitoring it, if you're not keeping track of things, then how do you make an intelligent decision?"

Saxe also reported that eight of 27 amphibian species in Ontario are at risk of being lost from the province, while four of eight bat species are now endangered because of an aggressive fungal disease known as white nose syndrome. …

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