The provincial government has introduced legislation that enhances British Columbia’s ability to protect species at risk, Water, Land and Air Protection Minister Bill Barisoff announced today.
The Wildlife Amendment Act, 2004 expands government’s powers to protect and recover species. The legislation clarifies and reinforces B.C.’s authority to make its own decisions regarding species, using the best available science, and ensures full consideration of socio-economic implications. Decisions coming out of this process will provide certainty to land owners and land users, and ensure B.C. has the legislative authority to manage its species.
“B.C. already has a comprehensive system for managing wildlife resources that is second to none,” said Barisoff. “These amendments to the Wildlife Act, combined with our world-renowned parks and protected areas system, land-use plans, environmental assessment processes and partnerships with industry and conservation stakeholders, provide species protection in British Columbia.”
The amendments enable government to designate species and their residences, such as dens or nests, for additional protection and management. As well as having the ability to protect animals and birds, as is currently the case, government will also be able to designate fish, plants and insects.
British Columbia is home to a large number of species and the province has its own unique set of circumstances. By giving the province the power to manage its species, the amended act enables B.C. to address these issues in a way that meets the province’s own specific needs.
“The forest industry supports the need for strong, fair and effective species at risk protection in B.C.,” said Peter Affleck, Vice President, Council of Forest Industries. “The Wildlife Amendment Act provides certainty and clarity for industry regarding the provincial government's approach to species at risk.”
“There is a clear need to consider both the biological and socio-economic implications of measures to protect species at risk,” said Jock Finlayson, Executive Vice President of the Business Council of B.C. “This legislation supports a made-in-B.C. approach to species at risk, and should enable the province to meet the requirements mandated by federal law.”
“We support this approach to a made-in-B.C. solution for B.C. fish and wildlife designated as species at risk,” said Dave White, president of the B.C. Wildlife Federation. “We look forward to continuing to work with government to protect B.C.’s rich diversity of species.”
The act’s prohibitions relating to the killing, harming and trading of wildlife will now also apply to species of animals, birds, fish, plants or other organisms that are listed under the act as species at risk.
B.C. has long been a leader in protecting species at risk on Crown land. Last fall important steps were taken under the Forest and Range Practices Act to strengthen wildlife protection, and on May 3 an updated Identified Wildlife Management Strategy was established that designates species for special management to minimize the effects of forest and range practices on wildlife on Crown land. The Wildlife Amendment Act enables the Province to list the same species as the federal government can under its Species At Risk Act (SARA).