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Environmental groups appeal industry protection from Endangered Species Act

April 22 2016

THUNDER BAY — Environmentalists are appealing an Divisional Court decision ruling industry is exempt from the province’s Endangered Species Act.

On Apr. 19, lawyers representing Ontario Nature and CPAWS Wildlands League filed a challenge to the government’s 2013 decision to exempt forestry, mining, energy, residential development and other activities from adhering to laws protecting some 160 endangered species.

The plaintiffs claim over 1,100 industrial and development activities have been exempted under the law.

“Ontario has argued that it has the right to push endangered species to the brink of extinction,” said CPAWS director of conservation planning Anna Baggio in a release.

“We should be protecting species, not jeopardizing their survival. That’s why we’ll be back in court on the 19th making a stand for species.”

The groups pointed to Northwestern Ontario’s Brightsand Range between Sioux Lookout and Armstrong as evidence forestry is impacting caribou habitat. She claimed cuts of more than 76,000 hectares since 2011 have deeply eroded the area’s liveability for the endangered species.

“This appeal marks the first time the Ontario Court of Appeal will interpret the Endangered Species Act, a law that serves as the last line of defense for Ontario’s at-risk plants and animals,” said Lara Tessaro, one of the lawyers who will be arguing the appeal.

“To thrive and survive, Ontario’s wild species need a law that protects them, not a law that protects industry.”