December 4, 2013 (Ottawa) – Nature Canada joined several conservation groups today in applauding the federal government’s issuing of an emergency order to protect the Greater Sage-Grouse, a prairie-dwelling bird that is on the brink of extinction in Canada.
Habitat destruction, along with other pressures, has brought the species to its knees. In recent decades, the Greater Sage-Grouse population has plummeted by 98 per cent since 1988. Experts estimate that the total population in Canada is down to approximately 100 birds after having lost 25 more since last year alone.
“Today is the first time an emergency order has ever been issued by the federal government to protect an endangered species,” said Ian Davidson, Nature Canada’s Executive Director. Davidson continued, “Nature Canada warmly welcomes this precedent-setting action.”
Nature Canada conservation and legal experts were pleased to note that the emergency order may stop harmful new oil and gas developments in sensitive areas of Sage-Grouse habitat. All told, the order applies to approximately 1,700 square kilometers of land in Alberta and Saskatchewan, protecting the affected areas from many kinds of harmful construction.
Conservation experts, however, warned that governments still need to do more if this species is to survive. “At present, the geographic size of the protected areas under emergency order may not be enough to stop the extirpation of the Greater Sage-Grouse,” said Stephen Hazell, Senior Conservationist at Nature Canada.
Nature Canada was joined by the Alberta Wilderness Association and Nature Saskatchewan in cautioning that more work needs to be done by governments at all levels. “The government of Alberta is ahead of the game with their release of a comprehensive recovery plan for this iconic species” said Lorne Scott, Director of Conservation at Nature Saskatchewan. “It’s the kind of strategy we would like to employ here in Saskatchewan. Nature Saskatchewan and Nature Canada are ready to work with the government of Saskatchewan and producers to develop a recovery plan similar to the one developed next door in Alberta.”
“Cooperation between the federal and provincial governments may end up being the deciding factor in whether this species survives or not,” concluded Davidson.
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About Nature Canada:
Nature Canada is the oldest nature conservation non-profit organization in Canada. It is also the largest grassroots nature conservation organization in the country with a network of hundreds of local affiliates and provincial affiliate organizations in every province.
In 2013, Nature Canada was named as one of Canada’s top environmental charities by Charity Intelligence.
Since 2008, Nature Canada experts have actively engaged in public and private consultations on conservation and recovery of the Greater Sage-Grouse. In the past several months, Nature Canada has joined scientists, conservationists, including the Alberta Wilderness Association, ranchers, provincial government and industry representatives in Alberta and Saskatchewan to form the “Sage Grouse Partnership”, a group tasked with helping stop the species from becoming extinct from Canada.