Help Save the Bears and the Bees!
Action alert: The Federal Government is accepting feedback until January 18th from the public on an Order to name grizzly bears as a species of Special Concern under the Species at Risk Act. Twelve other species are also proposed for listing or changes to their status, including the wolverine, barn owl, and four species of bees (see here for the full order).
Three subpopulations of grizzly bears in southwest BC have been assessed as Critically Endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and several others are listed by the province as threatened. They are threatened by habitat loss, fragmentation, and encroachment, conflict with humans, and road and rail accidents. In areas where human habitation and industry are taking over or fragmenting habitat, these impacts result in shrinking grizzly populations, meaning the area where grizzlies used to roam but no longer do is still growing. BC has over 600,000 km of resource roads and approximately 10,000 km are added every year, fragmenting forests, interrupting salmon streams, and increasing human-bear conflicts. In October 2017, BC’s Auditor General released a scathing report on the province’s long-term management (or lack thereof) of grizzly bear populations, citing unclear accountability, lack of funding for inventory and monitoring, and failure to implement policies and procedures to protect habitat even of endangered populations.
Two of the bee species on the order were recommended for listing in 2011 and 2014 by COSEWIC. The Federal government is legally required to list species within 9 months of this recommendation, so their listing is long overdue. In a 2015 letter to the Minister of Environment, Ontario Nature, Wilderness Committee, David Suzuki Foundation, Equiterre and Friends of the Earth noted that 151 species assessed as being at-risk by COSEWIC had not been added to SARA, meaning these species receive no federal protection.
What would this listing mean for grizzly bears and other species on the Order?
- “Special concern species would benefit from the development of a management plan, which includes measures for the conservation of the species. These documents would enable coordinated action by responsible land management authorities in Canada.” - Ministry of Environment and Climate Change, taken from the Order
- The SARA listing could affect management on federal lands (provincial listing of a species does not affect habitat on federal land, which makes up only 1% of BC's landbase). The federal government can order the province to protect habitat for endangered species on provincial Crown land (95% of BC's landbase).
- Species listed under SARA as Special Concern are not federally “protected”, as SARA’s general prohibitions to individuals and their habitat do not apply, but being on the list will bring much-needed attention and coordination to species management.
What can you do?
Let the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change know you support the listing of grizzly bears as a species of special concern. Edit and send in the form letter below by January 18th, or write your own if you prefer.
What happens with your input?
From the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change: “The results of the public consultations are of great significance to the process of listing species at risk. The Department of the Environment carefully reviews the comments it receives to gain a better understanding of the benefits and costs of changing the List.”
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