Species at Risk Act annual report for 2017: chapter 7

7. Monitoring

Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) collects information on species at risk from its protected areas and through its migratory bird program. Federal funding programs administered by ECCC and, in some cases, co-managed by the department, Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) and Parks Canada Agency (PCA) (including the Habitat Stewardship Program, the Aboriginal Fund for Species at Risk and the Interdepartmental Recovery Fund), also support monitoring activities. Information from these initiatives, along with information from partner organizations and researchers, allows the tracking of progress toward meeting recovery goals.

Species at risk monitoring is ongoing within PCA protected heritage places, to assess the long-term condition of the ecosystems as well as the conservation status of species at risk. In 2017, the national database system that tracks the long term condition of species was also used to track the progress towards the completion of activities in final multi-species action plans. The information obtained from monitoring activities and action plan targets is used to determine progress towards achieving both the population and distribution objectives and recovery measure goals as committed to in the multi-species action plans.

Monitoring of endangered SARA species - Prairie and Northern Region

Whooping Cranes
Whooping Cranes
Photo: © Environment and Climate Change Canada

In the fall of 2017, ECCC Wildlife Enforcement officers in the Saskatoon office actively patrolled and encountered numerous sightings of Whooping cranes. Over a two week period, the officers observed 29 whooping cranes - 3 of which were a breeding pair with a juvenile. These sightings were reported to the Whooping Crane Hotline so that the ECCC can monitor the migration.

Whooping cranes are spotted feeding in Saskatchewan during the spring and fall migrations every year. The whooping crane is listed as an endangered species under the Species at Risk Act.

Joint Coastal Operation to Protect Piping Plover – Atlantic Region

The Piping Plover is listed as endangered under SARA. Piping plovers nest above the normal high-water mark on exposed sandy or gravel beaches. On the Atlantic coast they often nest in association with small cobble and other small beach debris on ocean beaches, sand spits, or barrier beaches. They also forage for food there. Wildlife enforcement in New Brunswick received numerous complaints from the public regarding high volumes of motorized vehicles on beaches throughout the province. Part of ECCC’s strategy to mitigate the vehicle traffic is to increase enforcement presence on New Brunswick’s beaches by working with provincial partners.

In July 2017, building on the success from previous years, wildlife enforcement officers in New Brunswick partnered with the provincial Department of Justice and Public Safety (DJPS) and organized a coastal blitz during peak nesting season. Over the course of two days, officers patrolled the Acadian Peninsula beaches by boat and identified ATV’s and trucks in sensitive habitat areas that would not normally have been easily accessible by land. Officers recorded video and photo evidence of vehicle operators from the patrol boat and tasked their land based patrol units with intercepting violators as they attempted to leave the beach. Through this joint initiative, over $3200 in fines (13 tickets) and 20 warnings were issued by the province under the federal Fisheries Act, Motor Vehicle Act, Off Road Vehicle Act, and Trespass Act.

Case study
The science-based whale review

In November 2016, the Government of Canada announced a $1.5 billion investment in a national Oceans Protection Plan to improve marine safety and protect Canada’s marine environment, including addressing threats to marine mammals in Canadian waters. As part of this initiative, DFO conducted a science-based review of the effectiveness of the current management and recovery actions for three at-risk whale populations: the North Atlantic Right Whale, the Southern Resident Killer Whale and the St. Lawrence Estuary Beluga.

The review took place from January to April 2017 and resulted in three science reports summarizing achievements to date on implementing management and recovery actions for the three whale populations, and an assessment of the overall effectiveness of these actions in abating threats to recovery. The reports also aimed to identify how recovery could be better promoted by accelerating the implementation of actions not yet underway, by identifying new actions if needed, and by providing guidance on their relative priority for promoting recovery.

From June to September 2017 the Government of Canada engaged stakeholders, Indigenous communities, and the general public on the review. While DFO has worked with Indigenous groups, stakeholders, and industry for many years to identify recovery actions for these endangered whale populations, this engagement process focused on the timely and efficient implementation of priority management actions.

North Atlantic Right Whale, Beluga Whale, Sourthern Resident Killer Whale © Getty
North Atlantic Right Whale, Beluga Whale, Sourthern Resident Killer Whale © Getty

Results from the science-based whale review, in addition to the feedback received during the engagement, will inform further discussions and implementation planning for enhanced recovery efforts for these whale populations.

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