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Canadian endangered species list grows

The transient Pacific coast population of killer whales was designated as vulnerable in Canada   

April 28, 1999
Web posted at: 3:10 PM EDT

Canada's endangered species list for 1999 has 34 additions, including the killer whale, mountain beaver and harbor seal, according to the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada, which released the list on April 22.

Canada's Species at Risk list is determined by the committee each year. This year, the committee assessed the status of 88 species and populations. Three species were removed, the status of three others, including the peregrine falcon, were moved to a lower risk category due to population improvements. The list now stands at 338.

Two stickleback fish species from British Columbia were designated as extinct because of predation by introduced species. Two butterflies were designated as extirpated -- one from Ontario has not been seen in 10 years, and one from British Columbia has not been seen since 1908.

As well, the dwarf wedge mussel, a freshwater mussel from New Brunswick, was designated as extirpated due to development, agricultural runoff, water pollution and competition from zebra mussels, an alien species.

The committee's work is of particular significance this year because the federal government has promised to introduce legislation to protect and recover listed species this summer.

Canadian environmental groups believe that a recently-released policy framework for the endangered species legislation, set for introduction this summer, is inadequate.

The environmentalists say that almost 80 percent of the plants and animals at risk in Canada are threatened with habitat loss or degradation, yet the government's most recent legislative proposal fails to provide any assurance that the habitats of nationally endangered species will be protected.

"If legislation doesn't protect habitat, how then can the government pretend that it will protect the species themselves?" asked Marc Johnson, the Canadian Nature Federation endangered species campaign coordinator.

The Canadian Nature Federation recommends improving the legislation by making it apply to all lands, not just federal lands; making it protect a species' habitat, not just its residence and putting scientists in charge of deciding which species are at risk, not politicians.

Copyright 1999, Environmental News Network, All Rights Reserved

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Canadian Nature Federation: Endangered Species Program
Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada
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