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77% of identified endangered plants and animals in Ontario not protected

Thursday, March 1st 2007 4:01:34pm

77% of identified endangered plants and animals in Ontario not protected

Durham conservationist and others from across Ontario call for an updated "Endangered Species Act"

(Toronto, Ontario, February 28, 2007)  Today, members from Ontario Nature's 140 local conservation groups met in Toronto to hear representatives from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Ontario Nature discuss how to improve and update the Endangered Species Act.   Currently, 77% of endangered plants and animals in Ontario are not protected. There is little protection for dozens of endangered and threatened species, including American ginseng, barn owl and northern bobwhite, which are rare but have yet to be included on the official list.

The meeting provided useful direction on issues including a scientific process for identifying endangered plants and animals, habitat protection, the role of private landowners in protecting habitat, and financing protection and recovery mechanisms.  Participants were also provided with a tool kit for promoting improvements to Ontario's endangered species legislation.

Pickering resident Rosemary Speirs, Ontario Nature President and member of the Pickering Naturalists, said the Summit is an opportunity to bring Ontario wildlife protection and monitoring into the 21st century. "The discussion today is a first step as we push for a modern and effective Endangered Species Act that will ensure Ontario stands at the forefront of species and habitat protection. We anticipate the provincial government will utilize the large stakeholder support demonstrated today."

Coinciding with an ongoing government review of the Endangered Species Act, today's Summit session examined the problems facing Ontario plants, fish and wildlife and called on attendees to develop solutions and take action on the local level.

Wendy Francis, Ontario Nature's Director of Conservation and Science, organized the Summit and commended the participants' enthusiasm. "The strong interest in this topic from Ontario Nature's clubs is evidence of the public desire for stronger protection for Ontario's most threatened plants and animals."

Now nearly forty years old, the Endangered Species Act is woefully inadequate and does very little to protect the province's various endangered species. "I am confident that we are poised to achieve a significant upgrading of the current legislation," said Ms. Francis.

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For more information:

Jonathan Laderoute, e|c|o media relations, (416) 972-7401, laderoutej@huffstrategy.com

Wendy Francis, Ontario Nature, Director of Conservation and Science (416) 444-8419 ext. 239, wendyf@ontarionature.org

Ontario Nature protects and restores natural habitats through research, education and conservation, connecting thousands of individuals and communities with nature.

201 - 366 Adelaide Street West, Toronto, Ontario M5V 1R9 - Phone: (416) 444-8419 Toll free: 1-800-440 2366 info@ontarionature.org - www.ontarionature.org - Charitable Registration # 10737 8592 RR0001