Environmental groups applaud NDP motion for ‘long overdue’ BC endangered species protection
BC has over 1900 species at risk, including grizzly bears, American badgers, wolverines and burrowing owls. BC and Alberta hold the dubious distinction of being the only two provinces in Canada without stand-alone endangered species legislation.
"British Columbia is known around the world for its breathtaking wilderness and diverse wildlife - that's why it's so shocking that this province is still without an endangered species law," said Gwen Barlee, Policy Director for the Wilderness Committee. "If we don't act now to protect endangered species here they will start to wink out one by one."
The NDP's proposed Species at Risk Protection Act, if passed, would require by law a series of measures including: scientific assessment of which species are at risk, legal listing, protections against killing individuals of the species and protection of their habitat, and the development of recovery strategies to determine what actions are needed for a species' survival and recovery. The law would also encourage voluntary stewardship activities and allow for socioeconomic considerations to be taken into account when government decides what elements of a recovery strategy to implement.
"We know that British Columbians treasure the outdoors and the range of wildlife in this province," said Susan Howatt, Managing Director of Sierra Club BC. "This legislation is a necessary step, because it protects our high standard of living and something that people both in BC and abroad treasure about our unique corner of the world."
Public polling has shown that almost 90 per cent of British Columbians care deeply about endangered wildlife and believe that the province needs to enact a strong law to recover species at risk, and to prevent species from becoming at risk in the first place. The BC government has repeatedly balked at introducing an Endangered Species Law in the province.
"Climate change is placing increasing pressure on species and their habitats," said Susan Pinkus, Staff Scientist for Ecojustice. "We need a strong law to ensure protection of British Columbia's richness of wildlife."
In addition to this new Bill, pressure is building for the BC government to take action to protect Species at Risk. Last week over 200 scientists signed an open letter to BC Premier Christy Clark, urging her to move ahead with approving a National Park in south Okanagan-Similkameen region, home to one third of BC's endangered species.
""Protecting and recovering at-risk wildlife is an insurance policy for human communities because their habitat is our habitat, their waters are our waters, and their forests are our forests," said Joe Scott, International Conservation Director of Conservation Northwest.
For more information please contact:
Gwen Barlee, Wilderness Committee: (604) 683-8220 or cell (604) 202-0322
Susan Howatt, Sierra Club BC: (250)-888-6267
Susan Pinkus, Ecojustice: (604)-537-6407
Joe Scott, Conservation Northwest: (360) 319-7056
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