Newspaper article The Canadian Press

'Need to Get on with It:' Ottawa Promises More Action on Species at Risk Law

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

'Need to Get on with It:' Ottawa Promises More Action on Species at Risk Law

Article excerpt

Ottawa promises more action on species at risk

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OTTAWA - Federal officials are promising tighter enforcement of laws to protect species at risk after a pair of studies found little change in the status of threatened plants and animals.

"We need to get on with it," said Bob McLean, a director of the Canadian Wildlife Service, an Environment Canada agency.

McLean was responding to a University of Ottawa study released last week that found 85 per cent of more than 350 species tracked under the Species At Risk Act have seen no improvement or have deteriorated.

That study echoed research released last fall by the World Wildlife Fund. It concluded that being listed under the 16-year-old act made no difference at all to the fate of a species. Plants and animals on the list declined just as often and as rapidly as unlisted ones.

Others have pointed out that the act's requirements are often ignored by governments.

McLean promised the federal government will more actively use provisions of the legislation such as emergency protection orders, which allow Ottawa to step in to protect threatened critical habitat for a listed species.

"I think there will be more occasions where governments need to turn their minds to using the regulatory authorities in (the act)," he said.

McLean suggested the federal government also will make more use of provisions that allow it to make deals with local jurisdictions and landowners, such as offering compensation or other inducements to conserve habitat.

The government will try to make more deals that protect landscapes that contain several endangered species.

James Snider of the World Wildlife Fund welcomed McLean's comments.

"Most would agree in Canada that there are key mechanisms in place within that legislation, that if implemented, would be more likely to impact in the way we need," Snider said. …

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