|Threatened and Endangered Species
When Canada enacted the federal Species at Risk Act in June 2003 to address mounting threats to Canada’s endangered species, it was an important day for wildlife protection in North America.
However, key weaknesses in the Act, exacerbated by shallow federal implementation, have reduced the Act’s effectiveness in four ways.
3. Deadlines and Registration Requirements are Not Being Met.
The federal government has failed to meet the Act’s requirements to maintain a comprehensive public registry.
The online SARA public registry was originally lauded as a key public participation tool for species at risk. Today, the registry is confusing, out of date, and missing numerous documents required by law. Even SARA Annual Reports are missing, making it extremely difficult for the public to learn what has been done under the Act thus far.
Exacerbating its omissions, the registry appears at times deliberately confusing. For example, its FAQ page answers the question, “How many species are at risk of extinction?” with directions to COSEWIC’s web site, then later suggests that, by cross-checking the hundreds of species on SARA’s legal list with COSEWIC’s designations, “anyone should be able to check whether or not all the species COSEWIC determines to be at risk receive legal recognition from the government.” This is hardly providing the
Given the federal government’s emphasis on cooperative protection of species at risk, the public registry must be improved to better inform and engage Canadians. At a minimum, documents must be completed and registered according to legal deadlines to protect species and their habitat.