Canada’s Species at Risk Act isn’t effective enough. A recent study showed that over 50% of wildlife species across the country are experiencing population declines. So you might be asking yourself, how can over half of wildlife be declining in Canada if we have a Species at Risk Act that is supposed to protect them?
The truth is, although this law has the potential, it relies too much on political will.
Unfortunately, past and present federal governments have used vague wording and loopholes in the act to avoid actually following and/or enforcing their own law. Our federal species at risk campaign is focused on holding the federal government accountable when they fail to follow their own species at risk law.
For example, we have gone to court against the federal government for refusing to act on the SARA to protect the endangered greater sage grouse. We won this court case and it resulted in an emergency order to protect the critical habitat of the sage grouse. After this emergency order was established the sage grouse population rebounded! In 2016, the population of male birds grew by an astounding 150% in Alberta and by 233% in Saskatchewan. This is proof the federal SARA can be effective, it just needs to be enforced and taken seriously by the federal government.
Along with the act often being ignored by elected officials, provincial governments and industry leaders, SARA only applies to a small portion of the landscape now called Canada. The act only automatically protects aquatic species or wildlife on land claimed by the federal Crown. This means unless a species at risk is located in a national park, the ocean, a military base, a post office or an airport, they receive zero automatic protection from the act.
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A Lonely Landscape highlights how humans rely on biodiversity, the main issues with the federal Species at Risk Act and some of the species that have fallen victim to weak enforcement and compliance with the law.