Endangered Species Law for BC
New Democrat MLA Rob Fleming recently wrote and introduced a new private member’s bill to the BC legislature which was widely praised by environmental groups such as the David Suzuki Foundation and the Wilderness Committee. Bill M2, Species at Risk Protection Act, seeks to protect the province’s threatened and endangered species.
If passed, the new proposed NDP bill would significantly improve upon existing laws by adding legal protection to the habitats of species at risk, requiring scientific assessment of at-risk species and developing new recovery strategies to promote survival of threatened species. The bill also includes an element which encourages voluntary environmental stewardship.
BC has an estimated 1900 species which are at risk or in decline throughout the province. Species as diverse as burrowing owls and grizzly bears are threatened from habitat loss, climate change and a growing human population. As Dr. Faisal Moola, Director of Science at the David Suzuki Foundation points out, “Over four dozen plants and animals have already been driven to extinction in B.C., such as the Vancouver Island wolverine and Viceroy butterfly.” Without a dedicated plan in place for the protection of currently endangered and at-risk species, their future remains uncertain.
At the moment, British Columbia relies on the Wildlife Act and the Forest and Range Practices Act to protect the province’s wildlife. In Canada, only BC and Alberta remain without stand-alone laws for endangered species protection. The current BC laws are considered outdated and ineffective by many as they do not specifically deal with endangered species, making the new proposed bill even more important.
Rob Fleming represents the riding of Victoria-Swan Lake and currently acts as the NDP’s environment critic. He has attempted to introduce other private member’s bills in the past, including one which would have restricted the use or sale of cosmetic pesticides.