Vancouver, BC – Environmental groups applaud the Ministry of Environment for showing a greater commitment to endangered species protection in the government’s first session since the May 2009 provincial election.
Earlier this week, the Ministry of Environment stood up for the protection of the Western painted turtle, a listed endangered species under the federal Species at Risk Act, and on BC’s Red List. When the Lower Mainland’s largest and only known viable population was at risk of being killed by a dredging project in Burnaby Lake, BC MoE refused to issue the requisite salvage permit to the City, largely as a result of the proposed timing of the dredging. Ecojustice and the Wilderness Committee helped bring attention to the threat as the dredging was timed to occur just as the turtles would be seeking overwintering habitat in the shallow mud.
“It’s heartening to see the government stand up to development pressure rather than rush a project at the expense of endangered species. Endangered species have gotten the short end of the stick for too long, but it seems the Ministry of Environment is turning over a new leaf and showing a stronger commitment to protect our province’s incredible natural wealth,” said Ecojustice lawyer Judah Harrison.
In a late-August throne speech, BC government announced plans to create a Species-at-Risk Task Force to develop a new vision for endangered species protection, developed in collaboration with the people of BC. Ecojustice and Wilderness Committee hope this signals the beginning of a BC endangered species law.
“We look forward to seeing BC build on its recent successes and introduce an endangered species law so we don’t have to fight these battles on a species by species basis,” said Wilderness Committee’s policy director Gwen Barlee.
B.C. is Canada’s richest province biologically, but already at least 43 per cent of the province’s 3800+ species are at risk of disappearing. Along with Alberta, it is one of only two provinces in Canada without a standalone endangered species law.