OTTAWA — A national charity created to safeguard Canada’s lands and water is taking the federal Environment Minister to court for allegedly failing in her responsibility to monitor the protection of the endangered boreal woodland caribou.
The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) is asking the Federal Court to find that Environment Minister Catherine McKenna is acting illegally by ignoring the section of the Species At Risk Act that requires her department to report regularly on the condition of the caribou’s habitat.
According to the Act, once a critical habitat for a species has been identified, the federal Environment Minister has 180 days to determine whether any portion of that habitat anywhere in Canada remains unprotected. The Minister must then report every six months on what steps are being taken to protect that habitat until full protection has been achieved.
The habitat of the boreal woodland caribou was identified and publicly reported in October, 2012, nearly a decade after the animals were declared to be threatened with extinction if nothing is done to reverse their decline. But no subsequent reports have been issued by the federal government to indicate what measures are being taken to prevent further degradation of the places in which they live.
Much of the caribou habitat is under the control of the provinces and the federal government does not have the jurisdiction to control its use, said Éric Hébert-Daly, CPAWS’ national executive director.
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