Order Giving Notice of Decisions not to add Certain Species to the List of Endangered Species
P.C. 2005-1343 2005-07-14
Her Excellency the Governor General in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister of the Environment, pursuant to paragraphs 27(1.1)(b) and (c) and subsection 27(1.2) of the Species at Risk ActFootnote a (the Act), hereby
(a) decides not to add the Porsild’s bryum (Mielichhoferia macrocarpa), the plains bison (Bison bison bison), the Peary caribou (Rangifer tarandus pearyi) and the Dolphin and Union population of the barren-ground caribou (Rangifer tarandus groenlandicus) to the List of Wildlife Species at Risk (the List) set out in Schedule 1 to the Act;
(b) acknowledges receipt of the assessment of the status of the polar bear (Ursus maritimus) done pursuant to subsection 23(1) of the Act by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC);
(c) refers the assessment for the polar bear (Ursus maritimus) referred to in paragraph (b) and the dwarf woolly-heads (Psilocarphus brevissimus) referred to in Order in Council P.C. 2004-1175 of October 19, 2004Footnote b back to COSEWIC for further information and consideration; and
(d) approves that the Minister of the Environment include a statement in the public registry established under section 120 of the Act
(i) in the form attached as Annex 1 to this Order setting out the reasons for deciding not to add the plains bison (Bison bison bison) to the List,
(ii) in the form attached as Annex 2 to this Order setting out the reasons for deciding not to add the Porsild’s bryum (Mielichhoferia macrocarpa), the Peary caribou (Rangifer tarandus pearyi) and the Dolphin and Union population of the barren-ground caribou (Rangifer tarandus groenlandicus) to the List, and
(iii) in the form attached as Annex 3 to this Order setting out the reasons for referring the assessment for the polar bear (Ursus maritimus) and the dwarf woolly-heads (Psilocarphus brevissimus) back to COSEWIC for further information and consideration.
Plains Bison (Bison bison bison)
The Minister of the Environment has recommended that the plains bison not be listed at this time because of potential economic implications for the Canadian bison industry.
The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) status report designating the plains bison as threatened makes it clear that all of the assessed populations, with the exception of the Pink Mountain population, are stable or increasing in size and that the most serious impediment to plains bison conservation is a lack of habitat. The status report further states that, at present, no Canadian plains bison population is infected with any disease that jeopardizes its existence. As of 2003, there were approximately 600,000 to 720,000 plains bison in North America with over 95% of the total population maintained for commercial production. In 2004, the Canadian Bison Association reported a population of 240,000 plains bison on 1,900 commercial farms, which are generating more than $50 million in bison sales annually.
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) has supported bison ranching as an important diversification of the livestock industry. Besides its role in diversification, the bison industry has contributed to sustainable land management as a result of the conversion of cultivated land back to permanent forage cover and to the preservation of native pasture lands. The development of primary and secondary processing industries has provided additional benefits to many communities, including aboriginal communities.
The increased awareness of food safety issues (e.g. Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy) and emerging health trends (i.e. declining red meat consumption) have resulted in falling demand for bison meat and a corresponding fall in prices. This has negatively influenced the Canadian bison industry.
Listing the plains bison could potentially have a further negative impact on the Canadian consumer bison market. From a genetic perspective, wild and ranched herds cannot be readily distinguished from one another, as the original stock for all existing bison herds in Canada came from private herds descended from the few wild bison remaining in the late 1800s. AAFC and the Canadian Bison Association have stated that listing the plains bison could lead to lower consumer demand for bison products which would be detrimental to the Canadian bison industry.
By not listing the plains bison, the species will not receive the protection and recovery measures afforded by the Species at Risk Act (the Act). Although not listed in the Act, plains bison in national parks of Canada will continue to be protected under the Canada National Parks Act. Parks Canada has played a significant role in the recovery of plains bison in Canada and will continue to be a leader in the recovery and management of these animals. Reintroduction of plains bison is currently being planned in certain national parks of Canada.
It should also be noted that the recovery of the plains bison population from near extinction in the 1800s to present population levels was largely as a result of the voluntary stewardship and conservation ethic of bison ranchers in North America.
The federal government is working with the bison industry, provincial and territorial governments, aboriginal groups and key stakeholders to develop an approach for the recovery of wild plains bison. By working cooperatively, governments and stakeholders can achieve benefits for both wild and captive farmed populations of plains bison in Canada.
At a future date, if the Minister of the Environment believes that it is necessary for the plains bison to receive the full protection afforded by the Act, he may recommend adding the species to Schedule 1 of the Act.
The Nunavut Government and the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board (the NWMB) have both raised concerns about the consultations that have taken place. Under paragraph 34(4)(b) of the Species at Risk Act (the Act), the Minister of the Environment must consult with wildlife management boards if a species is found in an area in respect of which a wildlife management board is authorized by a land claims agreement to perform functions in respect of a wildlife species. As well, the NWMB and the Nunavut Government have raised concerns regarding the inclusion of community and aboriginal knowledge in the assessment of those species. They are not being added to the List at this time in order to allow further consultation with the NWMB and the Nunavut Government so as to determine how their concerns can be addressed
At a future date, the Minister may reconsider the matter after those consultations on the Porsild’s bryum, Peary caribou and barren-ground caribou (Dolphin and Union population) have been completed.
Polar Bear (Ursus maritimus)
The Governor in Council, by Order in Council P.C. 2005-5 of January 12, 2005, decided not to add the polar bear (Ursus maritimus) to the List of Wildlife Species at Risk (the List) set out in Schedule 1 to the Species at Risk Act (the Act). At that time, the Minister of the Environment recommended that the polar bear not be added to the List in order to consult further with the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board (the NWMB), so as to determine how its concerns could be addressed. The Minister stated then that he may reconsider the matter after those consultations have been completed.
Following completion of those consultations with the NWMB, there was a determination that the assessment for the polar bear be returned to the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) for further consideration and information.
The COSEWIC assessment was based on a status report completed in 1999 and supplemented with an addendum in 2002. The NWMB raised a number of concerns about the status report. Firstly, the report did not include any community or aboriginal traditional knowledge, and secondly, it was incomplete with respect to the best scientific information available. Under subsection 15(2) of the Act, COSEWIC is required to carry out its functions on the basis of the best available information on the biological status of the species, including scientific knowledge, community knowledge and aboriginal traditional knowledge.
In light of the above facts, a more thorough analysis of all available information should be undertaken to determine if the overall assessment of “special concern” is correct.
Dwarf Woolly-heads (Psilocarphus brevissimus)
The dwarf woolly-heads’ assessment is being referred back to COSEWIC for further information and consideration as a result of the Minister of the Environment having received notification from COSEWIC members that it should be referred back in light of new information concerning newly discovered populations in the prairies. The new information indicates that the British Columbia population mentioned in the status report is not the only one in Canada. It now appears that a population in the southern prairies on the Alberta-Saskatchewan border, which was previously thought to be Psilocarphus elatior (tall woolly-heads), is actually Psilocarphus brevissimus (dwarf woolly-heads). COSEWIC has asked the Minister to send back the assessment in order to revise the status report on this species and reassess its level of risk.
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