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Ontario to Provide Public Updates on Recovery Strategies for 37 At-Risk Species

Animal Justice May 8, 2018

TORONTO—Ontario’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) will begin providing public updates on progress made in developing recovery strategies for dozens of at-risk species, the Ministry announced alongside Ecojustice and Animal Justice today.

The quarterly updates will be made publicly available on the Ontario.ca website and will provide information on progress towards developing recovery strategies for 37 at-risk species, including the northern bobwhite, black redhorse, gypsy cuckoo bumble bee, Kentucky coffee-tree, and other mammals, birds, reptiles, fish, and plants.

The move comes as a result of settlement negotiations between Animal Justice (represented by lawyers from Ecojustice) and the Ministry, arising out of an application for judicial review brought by Animal Justice.

The application sought to ensure that the Ministry created and released recovery strategies for at-risk species, as called for by Ontario’s Endangered Species Act, 2007.

Pursuant to the settlement, Animal Justice and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry have agreed that the Ministry will create and release a timetable forecasting steps for the development of recovery strategies for the 37 species at risk named in the application.

The timetable will be updated every calendar quarter with information reflecting the latest progress made in developing recovery strategies for the 37 species at risk.

Recovery strategies provide scientific advice on how to ensure that healthy numbers of each species return to Ontario.

Animal Justice and the MNRF share a commitment to the effective implementation of the Endangered Species Act, 2007.

Quotes:

“I am pleased that Ontario will be enhancing transparency and sharing public updates on our collaboration with federal partners to complete recovery strategies for these 37 species. I am proud of my ministry’s ongoing commitment to protecting species at risk, and the many accomplishments that it has made in implementing the Endangered Species Act, 2007 including completing recovery strategies for 127 species at risk.”

Nathalie Des Rosiers
Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry

“As the Endangered Species Act itself recognizes, species of animals, plants and other organisms are being lost throughout the world at an alarming rate due to human activities. Animal Justice applauds the Ministry’s commitment to transparency in the development of recovery strategies, which are critical to healthy wild animal and plant populations in Ontario. It is more important than ever before for Ontario to do our part to protect vulnerable animals and other species from disappearing forever.”

Camille Labchuk
Executive Director and lawyer, Animal Justice

“We applaud the Ministry’s move towards greater transparency in its efforts to protect species in Ontario. The quarterly updates will be an important tool for the public, organizations like Ecojustice and Animal Justice, and for the Ministry to continue working collaboratively to ensure the recovery of these 37 species.”

Amir Attaran and Josh Ginsberg
Lawyers, Ecojustice law clinic at the University of Ottawa

Quick Facts:

  • Coming into force in 2008, Ontario’s Endangered Species Act will mark its 10th anniversary this year
  • Under the Act, species can be listed as “endangered, threatened, special concern or extirpated”
  • Under section 11 of the Act, the Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry shall ensure that recovery strategies are prepared within one year from the time of listing for an endangered species, and within two years for threatened species, except as provided for under the Act
  • There is on-going collaboration between Ontario and the federal government in the development of recovery strategies
  • To date, Ontario has published recovery strategies for 127 species at risk. 37 recovery strategies remained to be published at the time of the application

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Additional Resources:

For more information, contact:

Camille Labchuk
Executive Director
camille@animaljustice.ca

 

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Ontario Government Sued Over Inaction on Species Protection

Animal Justice September 20, 2017

Minister of Forestry and Natural Resources has unlawfully delayed recovery strategies for 37 endangered or threatened Ontario species, says animal rights group

TORONTO — National animal law organization Animal Justice, represented by Ecojustice lawyers, is taking legal action to force Ontario Minister of Forestry and Natural Resources Kathryn McGarry to issue recovery strategies for 37 species listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

The mountain lion and Northern Bobwhite, both listed as “endangered” since the ESA became law in 2008, are among the 37 species left in the lurch due to the Minister’s inaction, the group says.

“The Minister’s unlawful delays have left dozens of vulnerable species without the protection they are supposed to have under the law,” said Nick Wright, Animal Justice’s founder and board chair. “More than 10 years have passed since the mountain lion and Northern Bobwhite were listed as endangered. And let’s be clear, endangered means that a species is facing imminent extinction or extirpation.”

A review by Ecojustice found that the Minister has repeatedly violated section 11 of the ESA, which requires the Minister to issue recovery strategies within one and two years of a species being listed endangered or threatened, respectively.

In many cases, such as that of the mountain lion, the Minister has simply, and unlawfully, allowed deadlines to pass by — effectively leaving the vulnerable species with minimal legal protections indefinitely.

In other instances, the Ontario government has delayed protection for endangered and threatened species by hinging its recovery strategies to the federal government’s protection efforts, even when the latter has done little or nothing to protect the species.  For example, the Minister has dithered on her legal obligation to deliver a recovery strategy for the threatened black redhorse — a large river fish — since 2008, stating that she wishes to do so cooperatively with the federal government.  But her reasoning is nonsensical given that the federal government decided a decade ago, in 2007, not to protect the species.

Likewise, for the Northern Bobwhite, the Minister has chosen not to issue Ontario’s recovery strategy, and has instead taken a back seat to the federal government which she claims is “leading the development of recovery strategies”.  Trouble is, the federal government’s legal deadline to issue a recovery strategy for this endangered bird expired in 2006 — 11 years ago. Thus when the Minister says that the federal government is “leading”, what she appears to suggest is that where the federal government is willing to break the law, Ontario is willing to follow.

“The Ministry’s use of the ESA’s flexibility provisions is dubious,” said Amir Attaran, lawyer with Ecojustice’s law clinic at the University of Ottawa. “The province says it wants to cooperate with the federal government, but the nature of these delays has left us wondering if this is cooperation or a conspiracy to break the law.”

The Environmental Commissioner of Ontario has criticized the government for failing to implement the ESA effectively. In a 2013 report entitled Laying Siege to the Last Line of Defence, the Commissioner noted a “disturbing trend” of the Ministry of Natural Resources “using the ESA’s flexibility provisions to permit broad, open-ended extensions on the development of recovery strategies.” The Commissioner went on to write that the Ministry appeared “comfortable using flexibility provisions not in exceptional circumstances, but as a matter of practice.”

“Ontario touts the ESA as the most progressive endangered species law in North America,” said Attaran. “The Minister’s foot-dragging has rendered this legislation a paper tiger — or in this case, a paper mountain lion — so we’re taking her to court.”

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Animal Justice leads the legal fight for animals in Canada. Our lawyers work to pass strong new animal protection legislation, push for the prosecution of animal abusers, and fight for animals in court.

Ecojustice, Canada’s largest environmental law charity, uses the power of the law to defend nature, combat climate change and fight for a healthy environment for all.

 

Link to reference

Laying Siege to the Last Line of Defence, 2013

 

For more media inquiries, please contact:

Nick Wright, Founder and Chair of the Board, Animal Justice
nwright@animaljustice.ca
416-915-4139

Amir Attaran, Lawyer, Ecojustice law clinic at the University of Ottawa
aattaran@ecojustice.ca
613-562-5800 ext 2015

 

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Animal Justice

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