In January 2007, David Suzuki Foundation senior scientist Scott Wallace and I wrote a report called Left off the List. It profiled eight species scientifically assessed by the independent body COSEWIC as at-risk but in limbo, often for years, waiting to be listed under the federal Species at Risk Act or denied listing altogether. The report highlighted the disproportionate number of unlisted northern and marine species.
The Species at Risk Act has the potential to provide species protection and habitat-protection measures, although it's often the case that these measures aren't implemented (or only are when groups such as the David Suzuki Foundation and Ecojustice take legal actions).
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Our 2007 report profiled the Peary caribou (assessed as endangered), polar bear (assessed as special concern), western wolverine population (assessed as special concern), northwestern grizzly bear population (assessed as special concern), five populations of beluga whale (ranging from special concern to endangered), Interior Fraser coho salmon (assessed as endangered) and four populations of Atlantic cod (ranging from special concern to endangered).
Coming on nine years later, only the polar bear and Peary caribou have made it to the list. Lack of listing allows B.C. to continue the grizzly bear trophy hunt (It's time to end the grizzly bear trophy hunt), as well as continued fragmentation by industrial activity of the southern habitat of the wolverine.
Sadly, about 151 species in Canada are in limbo, waiting to be added to the list. (View species here.)
Although it might be one thing to delay road improvements or the passage of a bill to eradicate the nickel, delayed listings mean these species, despite having managed to eke out an existence for thousands of years, could now be facing the end of the line. The delays mean legal measures that could protect them from being killed or protect the habitat they need to survive are not in place.
Today, the David Suzuki Foundation and four other environmental organizations sent a letter to federal Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq on behalf of four wild at-risk Canadian bees. Bees, like other pollinators, play an integral role in propagating the food we eat, from potatoes to peppers and squash to blueberries. They are at risk not only because of habitat loss, but also because of the systemic poisoning caused by neonicotinoid pesticides.
They, too, have been left off the list.
If we are to have a future that includes wildlife species, and much of the food we love, the federal government has to the take the first step and list species that have been assessed as being at risk. For bees, a listing comes with mandatory legal protection, including habitat protection and protection from death and harm caused by neonicotinoids. The time for listing is now.