Animals at risk in Nanaimo

Wildlife News ... 74879.html

By Toby Gorman - Nanaimo News Bulletin

Published: November 19, 2008 3:00 PM
Updated: November 19, 2008 4:25 PM

British Columbia needs to live up to its slogan as the ‘Best Place on Earth’ by creating endangered species legislation, several environmental groups say.

The David Suzuki Foundation, ForestEthics, Wilderness Committee and Ecojustice have all partnered on a tongue-in-cheek campaign called The Last Place on Earth, referring to B.C.’s Wildlife Act that fails to address species at risk.

“Compared with every other industrialized nation and region in the world, B.C. sticks out like a sore thumb for not having an endangered species law,” said Sean Nixon, a lawyer with Ecojustice. “We have the richest biodiversity in Canada and no law to protect it.”

Trudy Chatwick, a Nanaimo-based Ministry of Environment biologist specializing in endangered species, said Nanaimo is not exempt from species at risk.

She said there are many forms of plant and animals here that are considered endangered or under stress, including the Vesper sparrows by the airport and the red-legged frog being pushed out by the bullfrog on the southern portion of the Island.

The bird’s foot trefoil is a plant of special concern in the Harewood meadows, but that matter is complicated because it is private land.

The Great Blue Heron is another species found in Nanaimo and across the province that is under population stress. One heron was recently found caught in a snare trap at Westwood Lake.

“These species are facing real challenges and we have to find ways to help them and protect them,” said Chatwick.

The subject has been accelerated with the probable deaths of seven female killer whales from the southern resident pod.

Those whales likely died from starvation due to low salmon counts and biologists are pushing the federal government to include southern and northern Vancouver Island pods in the Canada’s Species at Risk Act.

The deaths account for a 10-per cent drop in the southern resident population.

B.C. is the most biodiverse region in Canada both on land and in the water. It is home to 70 per cent of Canada’s freshwater species, 76 per cent of the country’s bird species and home to more than 3,600 plant and animal species, many of which only live here.

According to recent statistics, 1,640 species in B.C. – 43 per cent – are at risk.

Of those, just four are recognized by B.C.’s Wildlife Act – the burrowing owl, Vancouver Island Marmot, American white pelican and the sea otter.

Faisal Moola, director of science for the David Suzuki Foundation, said anything short of a standalone endangered species act is a risk to biodiversity in B.C.

“More than a dozen species have disappeared from our province and the casualty list is growing in length and urgency,” he said in a press release. “With more biodiversity than any other province, B.C. is an ark for wildlife, but until we have regulation ... that ark is sinking fast.”

The Last Place On Earth website can be found at

Herons are among a number of species that would benefit from provincial endangered species legislation, environmental groups say.
MITCH WRIGHT/News Bulletin file

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