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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

‘Perfect storm’ causes influx of black widows in the Okanagan

The region’s only venomous spider has come out in full force this year

Stanley Cup within Vernon man’s reach

Dennis Holland has spent the past 18 years scouting for the Dallas Stars, seeking his first Cup ring

Spotlight on Syilx culture in new Vernon Winter Carnival project

Grant funds launch new project, provides skills training for Indigenous youth

Suspected human remains found in burned out vehicle on OKIB land

Vernon North Okanagan RCMP hand over investigation to Major Crimes

B.C. reports 96 new COVID-19 cases, one hospital outbreak

61 people in hospital as summer ends with election

Attorney General defends Kelowna Mountie involved in rough arrest

Tyler Russell filed a lawsuit against Const. Siggy Pietrzak in June of this year

‘Unprecedented’ coalition demands end to B.C. salmon farms

First Nations, commercial fishermen among group calling for action on Cohen recommendations

Earthquake off coast of Washington recorded at 4.1 magnitude

The quake was recorded at a depth of 10 kilometres

B.C.’s top doctor says she’s received abuse, death threats during COVID-19 response

Henry has become a national figure during her time leading B.C.’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Kamloops RCMP search for armed robber of pizza restaurant

The incident unfolded on Monday evening at the Sahali Domino’s store

BC Liberals must change gears from election cynicism, focus on the issues: UBC professors

COVID-19 response and recovery is likely to dominate platforms

Trial underway for Kamloops man charged with kidnapping

Michael Mathieson is charged with armed robbery, unlawful confinement and kidnapping

Most Read