Canada's Endangered Species At Risk

Conservationists from Across North America Meet in Mexico this Week

(03/23/2000) - Guadalajara, Mexico - Defenders of Wildlife today hailed a meeting of conservationists from Canada, Mexico and the United States as a great step in ensuring the survival of endangered species throughout North America. For the first time, representatives from each of the three countries convened in Mexico to discuss protection of species across international borders and proposed Canadian endangered species legislation known as Species At Risk (SARA). Defenders representatives from Mexico and Canada, in attendance at the meeting, agreed that SARA’s failure to protect endangered species in Canada should be one of the major topics for discussion during the week.

"It’s wonderful that representatives from all three countries are able to come together this week to further conservation efforts in North America," said Bill Snape, Defenders’ vice president for law and litigation. "However, it’s vital that progress be made at these meetings. Progress would include strengthening the current Canadian endangered species legislation proposal to make it a legitimate tool for protecting rare and threatened species. "

Canada currently has no federal endangered species law. SARA is expected to be introduced in parliament later this year. Defenders points out that SARA does not have two central components for protecting species that both U.S. and Mexican endangered species laws have: habitat protection and government accountability. Snape charges that in its current form, the Canadian bill will offer no significant protection for endangered species and, if enacted, will continue Canada’s legacy as the weakest link in the protection of endangered species in North America.

"Not only is Canada flouting its international obligations with its present proposal, but it could face the possibility of international trade sanctions if it proceeds with this act as it currently stands, " said Snape.

"The current Canadian government has turned our country into an international embarrassment on environmental issues, " said Kevin Scott, Defenders’ director of Canadian programs. "We were once world leaders in environmental protection but now we trail far behind the United States and Mexico in the protection of wildlife. We need a piece of legislation that will do real work to protect our most cherished natural resources. "



Cat Lazaroff, (202) 772-3270