Discussion #1: Species at Risk Legislation in B.C. – What does it mean for me?

British Columbia has an internationally important role in conservation because many of our species and ecosystems are found nowhere else in Canada, and in some cases, nowhere else in the world. However, the number of species that are at-risk continues to grow.

In the last engagement, we heard that the current framework of regulations meant to protect species at risk in B.C. is a “patchwork of regulations” that doesn’t have enough “teeth”.  We also heard that there are too many government ministries and agencies involved – which is inefficient and means no one department is responsible for making sure government reaches its goal. Many people felt that B.C. needed dedicated legislation to address these challenges, and pointed out that the majority of other provinces have dedicated species at risk legislation.

The Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy has been given a mandate to enact stand-alone species at risk legislation.  This means that a new set of rules would be created to focus government effort and resources on taking actions to protect and recover species at risk, and prevent new species from becoming at risk.  These rules could apply across private and public land, across different resource sectors, and across all of British Columbia.  Species-at-risk legislation also has the potential to affect the interests of Indigenous communities.

Legislation may mean:

  • carrying out activities where there are species at risk might require permission from a government agency that wasn’t required in the past;
  • changes to the rules you currently follow for doing things like cutting trees, developing land, managing agriculture, or building and maintaining roads;
  • new decision-making processes, or changes to existing decision-making processes for allowing or denying new activities on the landscape; and
  • new processes to consider harmonizing the needs of a species at risk with other values.

During these early stages of developing species-at-risk legislation we want to hear from you. Post your comments on the following questions below:

  • What concerns do you have about this legislation? What would address the concerns you have?
  • What successes do you know about regarding protection of species at risk in B.C.? How can we build on those successes?


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    [-] john

    i think what ever is decided upon there should be penalties with some teeth in them not stupid little fines which companies or corps. do and pay fines as a coarse of doing business.

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    [-] Rob Knight

    I am concerned that new SAR legislation for BC will empower the “Statuary Decision Maker” to allow exemptions, typically for large resource development projects like LNG fracking or hydroelectric dams. There should not be any exemptions to the regulations of this new legislation and it should have full force on public and private land or waters.

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    [-] Stephanie Blumensaat

    The legislation needs to be very STRONG with few exceptions. It needs to be set up so that a person or group can ignore and then feign ignorance. There needs to be severe penalties and ramifications for not following the legislation.
    To get buy-in and support you need everyone to understand the ramifications of losing a species…ecosystems etc. how one thing affects another etc.
    First Nations must be involved and help create the legislation in the entir

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    [-] Craig Dusel

    My interest is twofold, first we obviously must protect species at risk for survival. Secondly, we must maintain a strong economy and standard of living. Without strong commerce, we lose control of decision making power on other issues. A good law made by a small group of people can be undone by a group of people with more clout.

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    [-] Kieran Cox

    My biggest concern with this and all legislation surrounding species protection is that very little of the policies reflect the strategies that are going to work. There is a consistent theme of ‘protection at no cost’, when we as Canadians are comfortable with the cost of protecting our species and their habitats. Please be more aggressive with land protection policies, enforcement regulations, and environmental policy. The situation is becoming dire, and our fate is tied to that of the species we should be protecting.

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    [-] Dr. David R. Boyd

    Based on the available evidence, the US Endangered Species Act appears to be one of the most effective species at risk laws in the world. Research indicates that 9 in 10 listed species are on track to meet scientifically determined recovery targets. Lessons from the US include: 1. the law should apply to all lands and waters, both public and private 2. Listing decisions should be made by scientific experts 3. Critical habitat must be identified and protected for listed species 4. Recovery plans need clear targets and timelines 5. Stewardship incentives such as property tax deductions should be available for private landowners who protect critical habitat 6. As many of the law’s mechanisms as possible should be mandatory, in order to ensure accountability and effectiveness. 7. Substantial resources will be required to implement and enforce the law, and some creative thinking should be applied to ensuring these resources are available 8. First Nations should be offered the opportunity to co-design the legislation so that it incorporates Indigenous legal principles related to conservation 9. Consideration should be given to creating a Supernatural BC Land Reserve patterned after the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) but enabling opt-in by landowners seeking to protect habitat in exchange for tax breaks 10. The public should have full access to information (except where this may pose a threat to the species at risk) and should be able to play a complementary role in implementing and enforcing the law.

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    [-] David Polster

    I have been working for many years on Garry Oak ecosystem restoration in support of SAR, but when Mr. Harper cut HSP funding the restoration work fell off the rails. Garry Oak ecosystems, especially deep soiled sites were human maintained ecosystems so without human intervention (e.g. burning etc.) these ecosystems fall apart and the SAR they contain become rarer and will eventually be extirpated. It would be useful if funding could be provided to continue the work that has been undertake at these precious sites.

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    [-] Charlotte Dawe

    I am concerned that this law will be built similar to the federal SARA which has not done a good job at recovering species. This law has many loopholes allowing habitat destruction to continue and species populations to decline. This concern would be put at ease if the provincial government conducted an assessment of the weak points in the federal law and ensured that the B.C. law would not have the same loopholes. There has been limited success for recovery of species in B.C. because the wildlife act is ineffective and B.C. does not follow the federal SARA as it should, especially when it comes to caribou. I think we should not build on anything that the past B.C. government has done regarding species at risk because this foundation is flawed and puts industry interests over the main goal of protection species at risk and their habitat.

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    [-] George Delisle

    The first thing that comes to mind, once these new regulations take effect are all the other rules hanging around going to be deleted? We can not have just another layer of rules on top of all these scattered rules in place today. Another concern is if the new rules will be so strict that there is no room for trying different approaches, or will there be avenues open to management techniques that are considered outside of the “BOX”????? Given the current rigid attitude is certainly not one to encourage people to even care about species at risk. We need a very flexible environment to try as many new approaches as possible. Forest managers should not have to prove something works before it is approved as a trial experiment. Adaptive management allows for trying new things and assessing the outcome. With the current attitude in government, there is no room for adaptive management. One must toe the industrial model or all hell breaks loose. Any attempt to vary for this indoctrine adds excessive and un-necessary costs to the point where most people will not even try. Cheers George

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    [-] Rick Greenwell

    About time! we need a strong species at risk legislation.

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    [-] Cela Maughan

    Sadly, signficant fines are the only way to go to enforce protection of species at risk. The changes to the Migratory Bird Act in the USA should also be a concern: fines must be based on the result of harm to species at risk, not whether it was intended. This is a now a loophole in the USA and proving intent is very difficult if not impossible.

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    [-] Jennifer Dyck

    Open net ocean fish farms need to be dismantled immediately & permanently. Absolutely no culling of any animal in BC should be encouraged & never paid for by gov’t bounties or conservative officers. Animals Natural Habitate & Drinking Water & Food chain source must be protected & not destroyed !

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    [-] Doug Beckett

    Considering the documented changes in species abundance and distribution in British Columbia, it is clear that current and past management practices and decisions are not sustainable. Changes to management practices and decisions must be made if we truly wish to sustain species diversity and abundance that British Columbia is renowned for.

    1. Government must begin saying no to permit submissions, when it is clear the intended project is not suitable for the area. While the activity permitted by the permit may be non-invasive or may not have negative impacts on the species at risk, having government say yes to the permit exposes the proponent to unnecessary expenses. At each permitting stage it becomes more and more difficult for government to say no to the subsequent permits, and in the end the project. At any of these subsequent stages, government becomes increasingly as risk of having to pay compensation to the proponent when it finally does say no. Alternatively, the project proceeds and negatively impacts the species at risk.

    2. Government must ‘turn on’ the mature plus old seral stage objectives of the Forest Practices Code Biodiversity Guidebook.

    3. Government must designate all area as ‘High Biodiversity Emphasis’ as per the Forest Practices Code Biodiversity Guidebook. While this would still enable the retention of old forest at levels lower than occurs naturally, the levels of old forest retention would be closer to natural levels and to the levels science indicates must be maintained to sustain healthy ecosystems across the landscape.

    4. Government must give back the authority of District Managers to decline cutting permits and Forest Stewardship plans where improvements in there design can be made, or where other values will be placed at risk.

    5. Government must focus on maintaining suitable habitat to sustain wildlife (especially for the species at risk wildlife). The preceding points will go a long way in helping to achieve this objective.

    6. I accept the wolf kill programs that have been implemented in the interest of saving caribou populations are necessary due to past government and industry decisions that have had detrimental effects on the habitat the caribou rely upon. I do not accept the continued degradation of the caribou habitat that is currently occurring. Efforts must be made to stop further degradation and to rehabilitate caribou habitat. I do not accept current management approaches that will necessitate ongoing wolf kill programs into perpetuity. Rather, protect and fix the caribou habitat so the wold kill programs can be discontinued as soon as possible.

    7. Change the professional reliance model such that professionals paid for by industry are no longer relied upon for management decisions on publicly owned lands.

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    [-] Anne Stewart

    I see the Sea Otter and Marbled Murrelet images on your promotional materials. Are there plans to include marine species this time?

    Admin avatar
    [-] Moderator Dom Moderator

    The Sea Otter is listed as a Species at Risk under the Wildlife Act. The Marbled Murrelet is a species that crosses marine and terrestrial ecosystems. B.C has developed an implementation plan for the Marbled Murrelet. No decisions have yet been made on the scope of species to be included in the Act.

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    [-] Todd Dumais

    There needs to deep consideration for ensuring equal and unfettered access to the back country for all users. Motorized vehicles rarely have an impact on a variety of species and certainly snowmobiling has almost no impact as they ride on top of the snow and do not impact the land. All modern snowmobiles exceed emission standards. Most motorized users are huge supporters of a variety of ecological sustainability organizations, such as Ducks Unlimited. Motorized users are also HUGE contributors to the economy as they spend money on hotels, restaurants, repair and maintenance as well as vehicle purchases. The government needs to respect equal and unfettered access to the back country.

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    [-] Tim Ennis

    My main concern is that the proposed legislation will focus only on species at risk and will not also include ECOSYSTEMS at risk. Ecological communities that are ranked by the BC CDC and NatureServe as Globally Critically Imperiled are regularly being lost or degraded due to land development or resource use activities and need to be protected whether they have species at risk in them or not. It is likely more effective to focus on the ecological community level of biological diversity than to focus too much (or exclusively) on species or sub-species levels of biological diversity conservation. Other Provinces in Canada have included ecological communities at risk in their SAR legislation. Follow their lead, and improve on what they have done.

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    [-] Joyce Lee

    i know not a thing there needs to be more discussion with the public is public info at the library through naturalist organizations at tourism info centers

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    [-] Ursula Lowrey

    A success story, so far (notwithstanding climate change), can be cited as the Vancouver Island Marmot, but this animal has been saved from extinction mostly by non-profit and private action, not government. Saving the Mountain Caribou can be said to be, so far, a dismal failure. Different animal, different ecosystem, definately needing government help. If this legistlation can save our Mountain Caribou populations, British Columbia will truly have a success story!

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    [-] Marquis

    I can’t stress how important protecting Canada’s biodiversity is to me and the future of humanity. I would like Canada’s legislation to be at least was effective as the US legislation. I also support the comments regarding the protection of ecosystems at risk that are necessary for the survival of many species.

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    [-] Richard Quinlan

    One of the objectives of Canada’s Species at Risk Act was to encourage each Canadian jurisdiction to create their own legislation for species at risk. Most wildlife species are a provincial responsibility and they need appropriate legal protection for populations and habitat. BC has the embarrassing distinction of having the worst legislative protection for species at risk. Adequate provincial legislation would improve this situation and also lessen the likelihood of federal emergency protection orders to take over management and recovery actions for species which should be managed by the province. A provincial act would provide more effective and local management of species at risk.

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    I am saddened and frustrated by the crazy making fiasco that is the whale watching boats harassing and chasing pods of orcas – – a species known to be at risk – around Saturna Island.
    We live near East Point on Saturna Island and we watch with horror up to 20 boats or more with hundreds of people follow the whales cheering and shouting when they see them.

    Would it be acceptable if buses full of cheering tourists chased down mother bears and their offspring?

    We have photos and videos and many people try to report to the DFO etc BUT the details required are difficult to collect (exact distances and names and IDs of boats) and the perception is that there is very little response either by phone – or any direct action. I have had this experience. Last week we saw a Parks Canada fast boat drive though the whale watching boats at speed without even slowing down to check the action.

    Its depressing and makes us angry – I used to look forward to seeing the orcas – now I dread it.

    We need regulation and we need it now – and we need it to be enforced. The whale watching business should be licensed to cap and reduce numbers of operators and sizes of boats – there are more and more and larger and larger boats every day. They come here at high speed from the US and from Vancouver. Its no longer a local activity.

    Please stop talking about it and take some action.

    Thank you,
    Mairead Boland

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    [-] Tyrol Forfar

    I would like to put our little problem of losing a few species into context. I believe that the earth has been losing species at a tremendous rate since the great flood/ice age of Noah’s time 4000 plus years ago. Our earth changed tremendously at that time and as a result species could not survive in the aftermath. The climate is still adjusting and changing today and many species become extinct throughout the globe every year not due to mans activities. We certainly have caused the demise of some species but scientists cannot prove that more than a handful have been at the hand of man. I say that in BC we have the legislation in place with all the acts and regulations and guidelines that resource development companies and governments have to follow to protect the land and water from undue harm and species will either survive or not. Take our caribou in bc as a case in point – they Will die off in central and south bc and that will be inevitable and not because we didn’t try to help them. So please put all this into context with what has happened in the past in the earths history and ask “are we really that significant” or are we “thinking of ourselves more highly than we aught to and deceiving ourselves”. I say no to another exhaustive and expensive review of current laws, just let the current ones do thier job.

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    [-] Lesley Edwards

    I embrace legislation that protects all species and our diverse environment. I think the proposed changes are a good step forward. Endangered ecosystems are just as important and worth preserving. Species don’t exist in isolation.

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    [-] Jessie

    I support these changes, however I worry that they may end up targeting individuals, who have a relatively low impact on species at risk compared to large, commercial operations.

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    [-] Justin

    I encourage a thoughtful scientific approach to species at risk management.

    I’m concerned that the resource industry and other commercial interests may potentially have too much influence on future policy through well established government relationships.

    I encourage the government to engage all stakeholders in the process of developing new legislation including local residents, conservation organisations, advocacy groups and commercial interests.

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    [-] Ted

    Let’s Do It!

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    [-] Tamara Henry

    I agree completely with a previous comment by Justin: the approach should be science based and take into account the interests and opinions of local residents, conservation groups, First Nations, and commercial interests such as eco-tourism. Care should be taken that resource extraction industries do not have a disproportionate voice in the decision making process.

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    [-] Sam Medcalf

    It is high time BC took this approach, and I think it should extend beyond species at risk, and include all wildlife. Wildlife is a resource that need to be given a priority.

    Here in the East Kootenays we have issues with winter range for ungulates being on private land. The lands get developed, mined, or high fenced, and wildlife has no where to go.

    Management should be ecosystem based, and it needs to have teeth. In the Elk Valley we have the cumulative effects framework strategy. It has highlighted issues with road density, selenium, the amount of mature forest remaining etc. Great info, but we need to do something with it. Currently in BC, industry and development go unchecked with the professional reliance model. It needs to change if we want to have viable wildlife populations into the future.

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    [-] Karen Sampson

    My husband and I are very interested in saving habitats for species at risk and would be happy to see legislation that, indeed, has “teeth” and would involve a more coordinated ministry on this issue so that we are all on the same page. We live in a rural area with lots of wildlife which we appreciate and are willing to work toward keeping safe environments for these animals.

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    [-] Sharon

    I feel as we live in and enjoy our beautiful province we have a huge responsibility in maintaining our wildlife, lakes forests and ocean. Lately there have been a number animals have bee put down as a result of our carelessness in handling garage and destroying their habitats so we are the more intelligent then we need to be something our thinking and actions to provide safety for us and our environment for generations to come we don’t own we are here borrowing this and we need to care for it properly

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    [-] Diccon Yamanaka

    I do not have any specialist conservation knowledge so I can’t leave a very informed comment but I would like to encourage the minister to strongly prioritize preservation of endangered species and their habitat over commercial interests using whatever measures are available to the provincial government. Human beings can always find another way to make money but these species do not have the option to move somewhere else and once they are gone they are gone.

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    [-] North Okanagan Naturalist Club

    Following are points we wish to be considered. We realize similar remarks have been posted by others, but want to stress the points as well. 1. the law should apply to all lands and waters, both public, private, leased or blocks of land leased to forestry, mining, or agricultural companies.
    2. Scientific panel of experts from government, universities and professional biologists, should be set up to determine the Risk Class of any species. Such as the system COSEWIC set up for the federal government. However, care needs to be taken so the time to register a species is not onerous.
    3. Critical habitat and Ecosystems, must be identified and protected for listed species in the categories for Endangered, Threatened and Extirpated. Corridor connectivity should be included in these assessments. Suitable habitat for reintroduction of species needs to be identified
    4. Recovery plans need clear targets and timelines.
    5. New operating regulation for Oil & Gas, Mining, Forestry, industrial etc. needs to be written into permits , must be enforceable and enforced by a separate monitoring government.
    6. Industry associations should not police themselves.
    7. Incentives for stewardship and protection on private properties, such as property tax deductions should be available for private landowners who protect critical habitat. And these incentives should remain with the land regardless of ownership. This needs to be promoted to the public. Working with Land Trust Conservancy organizations could help in promotions etc.
    8. No exemptions should be awarded once a species at risk is identified. Law should apply to all.
    9. We agree with the comment “ Consideration should be given to creating a Natural BC Land Reserve patterned after the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) but enabling opt-in by landowners seeking to protect habitat in exchange for tax breaks
    10. Access to information (except where this may pose a threat to the species at risk) should be able to play a complementary role in implementing and enforcing the law. Access to species evaluation and background– Why is a species listed as at-risk or not listed as at-risk?

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    [-] Alycia

    I have not heard about many successes in BC, which highlights why legislation is important. I am concerned that any legislation might be at the behest of industry or tourism (as seems to be the case with caribou), which can result in little actual species protection. Likewise, I am concerned that legislation “on paper” might not actually result in any change “in practice.” Any legislation should also address causes of decline.

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    [-] Michelle Connolly

    1. Protect all remaining habitat for species at risk in BC. Right away for SARA species and species that are ‘red-listed’ in BC.
    2. Recovery endangered species by reversing the causes of decline. Don’t bother with actions that don’t address actual causes of decline.

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    [-] Jody Holmes

    My concerns about this legislation are that it will be inadequate or insufficient for protecting species at risk or the essential ecosystems that all species depend on for survival.

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    [-] Dave

    In our municipality a lot of money is spent by everyone (though through myriad channels) to identify species -at-risk and their populations before we bulldoze them. We either value them or not. We either want to save them or not according to certain principles we need to make clear. Since the biggest problem seems to be private property rights versus conservation, the problem seems to be building a roadmap that works to not punish those who have consciously or completely inadvertently provided habitat for creatures society now feels it necessary to destroy to either employ or house people. Not an easy task but one we have to get busy with.

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    [-] Art Fredeen

    “Discussion #1: Species at Risk Legislation in B.C. – What does it mean for me?”
    1. As a biologist and researcher, and as someone who appreciates every bit of the earth’s biological diversity, both for any associated economic/utilitarian values, but also for its inherent non-monetary values, we do a far better job in protecting it. As others have stated, our BC legislation to protect our biodiversity is the (or one of) the weakest in Canada. Non-human species do not have votes or seats at decision-making tables. As stewards, we must create SAR and biodiversity protections for all of our biodiversity, but particularly for those populations, species or intact ecosystem that are most at risk.
    2. Suitable habitat, i.e. lack thereof, is an issue for most if not all SAR. While much of the province is in many respects ‘crown land’, it is also a complicated mix of private urban and nonurban, unceded FN traditional territory and reserve, FN treaty territory, forest tenure, oil and gas play, (etc.) leases and lands, subject to a multitude of human and non-human disturbances/uses (but mostly of the human variety), that are increasingly leaving less and more altered habitat (land and aquatic) for our remaining wildlife. As a researcher involved in cumulative effects and impacts research, we need to have legislation that protects all types of land, with an understanding that habitat must be considered paramount.
    3. Environmental change, and perhaps most notably climate change, is rapidly altering our BC environments and ecosystems, with unknowable consequences for biodiversity. This overlay of climate perturbation on top of the cumulative nature of impacts mentioned in the previous point, means that we need to manage our lands with increasing humility and precaution. It means that model predictions will become far less useful in this part of the anthropocene that is characterized by the great accelerations. These accelerations are making the human enterprise, and our population of nearly 7.5 billion and growing, that much more precarious – but in turn, increasing the precarity of life for for all other life forms that occupy this earth alongside of us. The science is critical, but the precautionary principle will be essential as we enter the next decades. We continue to discover species new to science in BC and across the world, yet in most cases, we know little of even the simplest of roles that they play in ecosystems and food-webs. Therefore, and without the time or funding to study all aspects of our biological inheritance, we must assume that all life forms are, or may be in the future, critical for our survival. This is surely something worth substantial legal protection! It requires a vastly greater generosity and sharing of the land with other species then we have seen so far. Our survival and future will depend on it.

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    [-] Keaton Freel

    The new legislation must focus on protecting all remaining habitat for endangered species and reversing the causes of decline. By and large, the species that are endangered are in such a state because of habitat loss. Band-aid solutions that do not address the ultimate cause of the decline are not an effective use of government resources.

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    [-] Keaton Freel

    The new legislation must focus on protecting all remaining habitat for endangered species and reversing the causes of decline. Most of the causes of decline are associated with habitat loss.

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    [-] Helen D

    I agree that the current framework of regulations meant to protect species at risk in B.C. is a “patchwork of regulations” that doesn’t have enough “teeth” and that there are too many government ministries and agencies involved, we do indeed need dedicated legislation to address these challenges.
    My concern with the proposed SAR legislation is that it won’t go far enough to protect ecosystems and species at risk and that there will be too little enforcement for it to be effective.

    We have zero success stories for species at risk in BC. Some feel that the Vancouver Island marmot is a success but it is still not at all a self-sufficient population and government has had very little involvement in its limited successes. Spotted Owls have been decimated and have also required the move to a captive breeding program since government wasn’t willing to protect the land needed by the species. Caribou? Let’s leave that disastrous story alone… How about all the species that are at risk because of roadkill? Badgers, snakes, turtles, amphibians… the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure has repeatedly failed to protect species at risk, let’s make sure GOVERNMENT MINISTRIES CAN BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE UNDER NEW SPECIES AT RISK LEGISLATION.

    There needs to be a stewardship-first system that uses incentives for people and organizations to drive conservation of species and their habitats, but also has legislated penalties (i.e., not discretionary) for those that contravene the act.

    The content of the act also needs to be science-based, employ adaptive management framework, and be updatable with new information.

    The act also needs strong provisions for evaluation of how effective the measures are for achieving the desired outcomes and a process by which regulations can change when we find that things aren’t working.

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    [-] Kristen

    There are so many things that could be said here but to keep things brief we need to protect all remaining habitat for endangered species as it will address a number of the comments already raised and creating actions that address reversing the cause of the declines.

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    [-] Pat

    The virtually unsolvable species at risk rubix cube challenge boils down to the blind ambition advantage that WE (human supremacists) have over THEM (nature at large, not just endangered wildlife). So long as politicians and bureaucracies continue to be controlled by the captains of industry, our planet is doomed to share an ecological fate similar to that of Mars.

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    [-] David Breault

    There is currently not sufficient protection for the habitat of critically endangered species in BC. Ecological reserves and old growth management areas do not provide the type of long-term and broad, landscape-level protection that far-ranging, sensitive species, such as marbled murrelet, northern goshawk, western toad, wolverine, and caribou, require to maintain and grow populations. Studies show that many of these species suffer population declines, and stop using currently protected wildlife habitat areas, because the areas around those sites are irreversibly altered by anthropogenic development and forest harvesting.
    Provincial research on the biology and ecology of species at risk, as well as other non-commercial species, is grossly underfunded and suffers from a lack of resources. For example, freshwater fish species in BC that are listed under the species at risk act, such as dace and lamprey, are understudied and subsequently not adequately protected. Meaningful legislation to protect ecological values cannot occur without high-quality, ongoing, long-term research and monitoring efforts.
    Commercial resource extraction is currently valued above ecological and cultural values. There needs to be a shift in the values in the legislation that puts ecological and cultural values before resource extraction priorities. Protective legislation that is founded on the best scientific research, should require licensees to submit plans outlining habitat areas identified for protection. First, sufficient habitat must be set aside for protection in BC to support viable populations of identified species at risk, before anthropogenic development takes place. Sensitive or critical wildlife areas must require strict protocols for human use, such as not spraying herbicide or insecticide, no timber harvesting, no harvesting of important prey species, and no mining.
    Legislative actions should address the root causes of population declines. For example, wildlife habitat areas that protect areas identified as suitable nesting habitat from timber harvest and development, have been shown to be inadequate in reversing population declines, because foraging habitat has not been correspondingly protected. Research that identifies the reasons for population declines and other vulnerabilities (e.g. endemism and genetic isolation) should inform species at risk laws in BC. Plans should be reviewed by expert researchers, prior to becoming law. Expert reviewers should be able to review and make comments on proposed species at risk laws before they are enacted, to ensure support from the scientific community.

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    [-] Judy Carlson

    I get the impression that in the creation of Recovery Strategies, the socio-economic factors are more important than the rigorous preservation of the ideal ecological areas for the species’ needs.
    This is very short-sighted.

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    [-] Onni Milne

    My observation regarding this proposed legislation is that it is more public relations spin with no real intention to create change. If there was intention to protect endangered species, the Site C dam project would not have been approved and logging from old growth forests would have been stopped immediately after the NDP government took office.

    I weep when I hear about more “progress” for those who have destroyed so much already. The rest of us pay with fewer opportunities to benefit from a world we have been gifted. I see little stewardship from a government that was supposed to be different from a Liberal government run by Christy Clark.

    I share the following link from a CBC radio program to highlight the necessity of stopping this madness and ensuring that we no longer contribute to species decline:


    We are the ones making the choices. We have made the choice to destroy everything for corporate profits. We can make different choices now. It is your choice. As my government in BC, I ask you to represent a different paradigm to offer Life instead.

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    [-] Mark D Thompson

    My primary concern with Species at Risk (SAR) legislation is the notion that we have the ability to identify SAR and respond in a way that ensures their protection. I would like to know what species isn’t at risk given the status of the planet? The fact that climate change is in full force with no path forward to reverse the hothouse earth would suggest that all species are currently at risk – us included. A SAR process requires that government advocate for this particular form of conservation strategy – there is lots of debate on methods of prioritizing for conservation beyond SAR priorities. Hence, the government needs to offset the favoritism toward this one package approach toward conservation.

    The theory being tested from a scientific stance is that designation of species for conservation purposes shall serve to address declines. Each status is a hypothesis about a particular species. However, we are not out testing on a species-by-species basis because common species don’t receive funding for monitoring and we tend to look at the larger more charismatic species. Hence, there is a real bias in the process from the onset. This also means that the scientific community that gets funded and channeled into positions of authority on the matter are also those that study SAR. Funding matches the priorities we set and so there is a loop of those who get funded the most tend to be those that are also on board with this approach.

    This does not mean that I’m not concerned about SAR – I’m a practicing professional biologist (over 20 years since I completed my undergrad) and I started on this career path as a young child concerned about these very issues. However, I’ve come to understand the problem to be something greater than species in decline. Further, populations are in continuous decline. What about loss of migration? Is migration becoming extinct? Most research suggests that this is so and may be the more serious issue that is not addressed under a SAR approach. There have been five previous mass extinctions – we are in the midst of a sixth (Anthropocene mass extinction). Analysis of the previous extinctions informs us that being common wasn’t a predictor of success, yet this seems to be the main approach taken in the assessment process of what is a SAR. These are often rare large vertebrates and sometimes we see organisms that have caught the public attention. The bias is evident and there needs to be an approach to address this bias – we need objective science.

    The decline in functional biomass leading to the loss of ecosystem functions feeds into a ecological web of problems. Harper et al. (2015; Ecological Applications, 25: 2271–2284) expressed this succinctly in their analysis of forest impacts on amphibians (the vertebrate group experiencing declines greater than any other taxa): “These findings suggest that debate over timber harvesting on pool‐breeding amphibian populations…should focus not on questions of landscape‐scale extinction but on the ecological consequences of dramatic reductions in amphibian biomass, including changes in trophic interactions, nutrient cycling, and energy transfer.” Current forest practices have neither the method nor the understanding of the impact they are having on these sorts of factors, yet we know that there is a 50% reduction in population sizes across a landscape. The species are still present, but the numbers go down. The problem is exacerbated by extinction debt. These are real published scientific issues in conservation and I don’t see how a SAR approach can address this.

    The only hope that I can see for new SAR legislation to address these issues is the following:

    1. Immediate recognition that climate change is an added risk and all species need to be evaluated in this context.
    2. Increased funding to monitor and track common species in northern range marginal environments and at higher latitudes. Range marginal areas are likely to be more sensitive to the impacts and may provide a better indicator of effects.
    3. A funding structure that equalizes funding toward less commonly studied organisms – fungi, insects, and small creatures that are off the charismatic radar.
    4. Funding into the science and philosophy of SAR as an approach – does it work and what are it’s shortfalls?
    5. Establish a portion of funding for investigation into population declines. If common species are experiencing continual declines, then they should become listed. I believe that the traditional assessment method has been too lax in this evaluation process.
    6. Take the final decision out of the hands of politicians and keep it with the scientists. A scientifically based approach that is publicly verifiable, well-funded, and based on evidence is the only approach we need to regulate and manage for SAR.
    7. Communities at risk need to be as important as SAR.

    User avatar
    [-] Billy M

    the legislation will have to cross several ministries and introduce into the decision making for resource use a set of “guidelines”. This will prove to be hard given the reluctance for ministries to add one more layer of “redtape” to the day to day operations.

    I think the only way to make decisions based on a more comprehensive management model which include species at risk and all wildlife values, is to fundamentally change the model on which forestry and wildlife are managed within the government.

    Change is hard and government is always changing, but it really is more shuffling the deck than fundamentally reorganizing government.

    User avatar
    [-] Scott Ellis

    Species at Risk legislation must include:
    • carrying out activities where there are species at risk might require permission from a government agency that wasn’t required in the past;
    • changes to the rules you currently follow for doing things like cutting trees, developing land, managing agriculture, or building and maintaining roads;
    • new decision-making processes, or changes to existing decision-making processes for allowing or denying new activities on the landscape; and
    • new processes to consider harmonizing the needs of a species at risk with other values.
    It needs to be at a landscape level/eco-systems based. It must be grounded in objective science, incorporate local knowledge/citizen science, and put wildlife first – not social opinion, and party popularity. We must be willing to make the tough, unpopular decisions as required, e.g., predator control.
    Managers need objectives to manage to, and be held accountable for the results in their regions.
    “Only when the last tree has died and the last river been poisoned and the last fish been caught will we realize we cannot eat money.”
    ~Cree Indian Proverb

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