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Report finds BC wildlife at risk of extinction from inadequate laws

Sep 21. 10

Environmental groups from Canada and the US released a new scientific study today highlighting the inadequate patchwork of laws and policies putting more than 1,900 species at risk of extinction or extirpation in British Columbia.

The report reveals that these species need considerably more protection if they are to survive in BC, especially the 96 per cent that are transboundary species that exist in BC and neighbouring jurisdictions. While several of these jurisdictions have strong species protection laws, a species that crosses the border into BC often faces serious perils.

"If a grizzly bear ambles from Alberta or Montana across the border into BC, it goes from being protected by law, to staring down the barrel of a gun," said Michelle Connolly, David Suzuki Foundation Scientist and report co-author. "This clearly demonstrates the urgent need for BC to pass its own endangered species law — animals shouldn't need passports to get protection."

Released today by the David Suzuki Foundation, Ecojustice, and Conservation Northwest, the report details how BC has become one of the last refuges for species like the grizzly bear, lynx, and wolverine. Despite being home to a vast array of wildlife, very few species at risk in BC are protected under law.

"Current laws in BC list only nine per cent of at-risk species in BC, and even for them, protections are woefully inadequate," said Keith Ferguson, report co-author and staff lawyer with Ecojustice. "Most provinces have stand-alone legislation to protect species at risk, but BC remains a laggard with no such law."

The report highlights the need for new, strong legislation in BC to protect species and ecosystems at risk. It also recommends BC improve coordination of conservation efforts with its neighbours, including planning for anticipated movements of species ranges in response to climate change, which will require connected corridors across political borders.

"Wildlife does not recognize political boundaries," said Joe Scott, International Conservation Director at Conservation Northwest. "Species like lynx are seriously endangered in the shared habitats of the US and BC, but are only protected south of the border. Unfortunately protections for such vulnerable wildlife are more like legal dead ends than two-way streets."

The report, On the Edge: British Columbia's Unprotected Transboundary Species, is available online.

For more information, please contact:
Joe Scott, Conservation Northwest (360) 671-9950 ext 11
Michelle Connolly, David Suzuki Foundation (604) 732-4228 ext 1265
Keith Ferguson, Ecojustice (604) 685-5618 ext 287

For more information, please download a copy of the report, On the Edge: British Columbia's Unprotected Transboundary Species.

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