Species at Risk Act annual report for 2016: chapter 4

4 Protection of individuals and residences of listed species

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4.1 Legislative background

The protection that comes into effect following the addition of a species to Schedule 1 of the Species at Risk Act (SARA) depends on the type of species (aquatic, terrestrial, migratory bird), its listed status (extirpated, endangered, threatened, special concern) and its location.

Sections 32 and 33 of SARA make it an offence to:

  • kill, harm, harass, capture or take an individual of a species that is listed as extirpated, endangered or threatened
  • possess, collect, buy, sell or trade an individual of a species that is listed as extirpated, endangered or threatened, or any of its parts or derivatives; or
  • damage or destroy the residence of one or more individuals of a species that is listed as endangered or threatened, or of a species listed as extirpated if a recovery strategy has recommended its reintroduction into the wild in Canada

These prohibitions apply immediately upon listing to:

  • all aquatic species
  • all migratory birds protected under the Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994 wherever they are found in Canada; and
  • all other extirpated, endangered or threatened species on federal lands or on lands that are in a territory and that are under the authority of the Minister of the Environment or the Minister responsible for the Parks Canada Agency

Under SARA, the provinces and territories are provided with the first opportunity to protect other listed species that are not aquatic or migratory birds on provincial, territorial and private land. If the Minister of the Environment is of the opinion that provincial, territorial or other federal legislation does not effectively protect the species or the residences of its individuals, the Minister is required, after consultation with the appropriate provincial or territorial minister or the applicable wildlife management board, to recommend to the Governor in Council that an order be made to apply the prohibitions in sections 32 and 33 of SARA. To date, the Government of Canada has not made any such orders under SARA.

SARA also contains requirements about the protection of critical habitat for species at risk once it has been identified. Section 6.1 of this report addresses the protection of critical habitat.

4.2 Emergency protection orders

In accordance with subsection 80(2) of SARA, the competent minister must recommend an emergency order to the Governor in Council (GIC) if he or she is of the opinion that a listed wildlife species faces imminent threats to its survival or recovery. The final decision on whether or not to issue the emergency order rests with the GIC. When making its decision, the GIC also takes into account socio-economic considerations.

On June 22, 2016 the Government of Canada unveiled an emergency order for the protection of the Western Chorus Frog (Pseudacris triseriata), Great Lakes / St. Lawrence: Canadian Shield Population (GLSLCS), which came into force on July 8, 2016. This followed the Minister of the Environment’s recommendation to the GIC regarding imminent threats to the recovery of the Western Chorus Frog as a result of development in La Prairie, Quebec.

The primary purpose of the Order is to prevent the loss or degradation of the habitat the Western Chorus Frog (GLSLCS) needs to stabilize its population and help its recovery. It contains a number of prohibitions for the protection of the species. The area covered by the Order is approximately 2 km2 of undeveloped and partially developed land in the municipalities of La Prairie, Candiac, and Saint-Philippe, suburbs outside of Montreal, Quebec, a large portion of which is currently a conservation park.

More information about the Order including maps and a summary of the prohibitions is available on the Species at risk public registry.

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