BC’s Species Crisis
British Columbia is home to a large majority of Canada’s incredible array of natural wealth: from an abundance of animal, fish and plant species to the forests, mountains, grasslands, and waterways that support them. BC houses 75 per cent of Canada’s bird species, 70 per cent of its freshwater fish species and 66 per cent of its butterfly species. Yet more than 43% of the province’s assessed species are threatened or endangered. Additionally, of the 191 species listed under SARA, the federal species at risk act, only three (or 1.6 per cent) are listed as at risk under the BC Wildlife Act. Concerned? So are we.
Continue reading to learn what the major contributing factors to poor protection measurements in BC are and what we can do about the BC Species Crisis.
BC is one of a handful of provinces in Canada without a specific law that protects endangered wildlife within its borders.
British Columbia has more species at risk than any other province and its poor species laws are a major contributing factor. BC is one of a handful of provinces in Canada without a specific law that protects endangered wildlife within its borders. While a scientific body in BC maintains lists of species grouped according to risk, this action is not required by law and the listings trigger no legal protection. Out of the 138 "red-listed" endangered or threatened species identified in our province, only four are legally listed under the provincial Wildlife Act (Vancouver Island Marmot, American White Pelican, Burrowing Owl and the Sea Otter) and therefore entitled to the marginal protections set out in that law.
Ecojustice released a report titled "Failure to Protect: Grading Canada's Species at Risk Laws" and guess what grade we got? A big stinking F.
BC only recognizes 3 of the 191 species listed under SARA. There are no laws in our province that specifically prohibit harm to species at risk (other than a prohibition against hunting), there are no laws that provide mandatory protection for the habitat at-risk species require for their survival and recovery, and BC laws do not require species recovery planning and implementation. To make matters even worse for at-risk species in our province, under some circumstances BC laws actually weaken the marginal protections offered to at-risk species.
Government has an important role to play in safeguarding our natural captial. Laws that set out to protect at-risk species and the air, water and land they need to survive and thrive are a compelling example of how governments can ensure that the pursuit of short-term economic gains doesn't come at the expence of the long-term health of our environment. Right now, BC is failing miserably. At this rate, we will be the last place in Canada without a meaningful stand alone endangered species law.
We need your help to change that.