(Eco)Justice for the Sage Grouse

Stephen Hazell, Director of Conservation and Legal Counsel.

The Federal Court of Canada has decided to grant Nature Canada and other nature groups, represented by Ecojustice, the status of intervener in a law case that will test the constitutionality of the Species at Risk Act (SARA) for the first time. The City of Medicine Hat in Alberta and LGX Oil & Gas initiated an application for judicial review asking that an emergency order protecting the endangered Greater Sage Grouse, and sections of SARA be declared unconstitutional.

Having intervener status will allow the nature groups and Ecojustice file a written argument, and make a brief oral argument at the court hearing.

The emergency order being contested was issued in 2013 to impose restrictions to protect the habitat of the Greater Sage Grouse on provincial and federal Crown lands in Alberta and Saskatchewan.

At the time, Environment Canada reported that there were fewer than 150 birds remaining in the two Canadian provinces where they are found (Alberta and Saskatchewan) and that the bird’s population had fallen 98 per cent since 1988. The Greater Sage Grouse is listed as endangered under the federal Species at Risk Act, and must remain as such to stabilize its population and continue its recovery.

A future for the Sage Grouse

As it stands, Ecojustice is looking to ensure that the judges hear why emergency orders and SARA are valid law, and that they are critical to the future of the Greater Sage Grouse and many other wildlife species across Canada.


For more information on this case, please consult the following media reports

CBC News on June 2, 2016: LGX Oil + Gas blames sage grouse protection order for insolvency
CBC News on September 17, 2013: Endangered sage grouse to be protected by emergency order


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