Canada’s northern spotted owl is poised for extinction following federal Environment Minister, Rona Ambrose’s announcement that the government will not step in and protect the country’s few remaining birds, says a group of leading environmental organizations.

Despite only 17 spotted owls remaining in Canada, the Environment Minister stated earlier today: “…there is no imminent threat to the survival or recovery of the Northern Spotted Owl at this time.”

“Clearly these owls are in trouble,” says Gwen Barlee, policy director for the Western Canada Wilderness Committee. “How can the Minister claim that northern spotted owls are not threatened when more and more owls disappear each year?”

Last December, environmental groups filed a legal action under Canada’s Species at Risk Act in a last ditch effort to save the few remaining spotted owls.

“Minister Ambrose has set such a low standard for the Species at Risk Act in terms of its protections for endangered species that the law has been rendered meaningless,” said Sierra Legal lawyer Devon Page.

The decision could also spell the end to many other wildlife that share the old growth forest habitat with the spotted owl.

“The Minister’s decision not only dooms the spotted owl, but sadly many of its endangered neighbors as well,” says Dr. Faisal Moola, director of science for the David Suzuki Foundation.

“When the federal government passed the Species at Risk Act they promised that no species would fall through the cracks – well, the spotted owl just did,” says Candace Batycki of ForestEthics.