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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