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Industry placing endangered species at risk, say enviro groups

Northern Ontario Business,
Northern Ontario Business staff,
April 18 2016

Two environmental groups are in an Ontario appeals court this week seeking to overturn a provincial regulation that they claim exempts major industry from following the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

Ontario Nature and CPAWS Wildlands League claim these exemptions “deprive 160 endangered and threatened species of their core legal protections – allowing industry now to kill endangered wildlife and destroy their habitats, subject only to minimal restrictions.”

On April 19 in Toronto, the groups are challenging an earlier divisional court ruling to uphold, what they argue, is a provincial exemption made to these industries from adhering to the regulations in the ESA, which protects at-risk plants and animals.

They claim since the Ontario government enacted the ESA in 2013, more than 1,100 industrial and development activities have been made exempt.

“Ontario has argued that it has the right to push endangered species to the brink of extinction,” said Anna Baggio, director of conservation planning for CPAWS Wildlands League. “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 group maintains that man-made activities are threatening caribou habitat by the expansion of logging, mentioning the “blanket exemption” given to forestry activities in the Brightsand Range in northwestern Ontario which is “contributing to (the) boreal caribou’s demise,” the groups said in an April 18 statement.