Action urged to protect B.C.’s threatened wildlife

Task force findings call for different approach to species at risk

Southern resident killer whales in the Southern Gulf Islands

A task force report that calls on B.C. to bolster its protection of species at risk doesn’t go far enough, environmental groups say.

Critics call the 16 recommendations vague and lacking teeth.

The Species At Risk Task Force report concludes the extremely large number of species assessed at risk – 1,900 and rising – means B.C. should shift from a focus on individual species to a broader ecosystem-based approach when considering new development.

It warns the species-by-species approach “is leading us down a path of increasing complexity, overlapping initiatives and unsupportable costs even as the numbers of at-risk species continues to grow.”

It does not propose a provincial endangered species law equivalent to the federal Species At Risk Act – a tougher legislative approach that conservation groups prefer.

“We are disappointed that instead of calling for a law they recommend tinkering with B.C.’s antiquated patchwork of existing regulations,” Wilderness Committee policy director Gwen Barlee said.

Threats to wildlife highlighted in the report include climate change, degraded ecosystems and challenges in protecting species on private land.

The report suggests offering incentives to private property owners to reward their assistance.

Species at risk in B.C. include grizzly bears, spotted owls, phantom orchids, Vancouver Island marmots and killer whales.