Minister Kent responds to Sage-grouse petition
More than 65,000 people from around the globe helped us deliver a strong message to Environment Canada.
In the fall, we asked you to help us tell Environment Minister Peter Kent that he needs to take immediate action and recommend emergency protections to save Canada’s sage-grouse from disappearing for good.
Well, our supporters definitely rose to the challenge. More than 65,000 of you signed the petition, which we delivered to Minister Kent in January.
And late last week, we got a response from the Minister. The following text is excerpted from his letter to Ecojustice:
Thank you for your email message of January 17, 2012 and attachment concerning the Greater Sage-Grouse urophasianus subspecies (Great Sage-Grouse).
Like the individuals who signed Ecojustice’s petition, the Government of Canada is concerned about the number of great Sage-Grouse remaining in Canada. As you know, this species is listed as endangered under the federal Species at Risk Act. As required under the Act, the Government published a recovery strategy for the Greater Sage-Grouse in 2008. The long-term goal of the strategy is to establish stable or growing populations of this species.
In the fall of 2009, the recovery strategy was amended to include critical habitat for the Great Sage-Grouse. This critical habitat included all active leks (dancing of strutting grounds) in Alberta and Saskatchewan, as well as nesting and brood-rearing critical habitat in Alberta. Environment Canada is current working with other agencies to identify critical habitat based on new scientific information developed since 2009.
The Government is committed to ensuring that regulatory and other conservation measures are in place to protect critical habitat. On non-federal lands, the federal government looks to the provinces, with the assistance of industry, landowners and conservations agencies, to provide effective protection of critical habitat. Through the Habitat Stewardship Program for Species at Risk, our government has made funding available to groups seeking it implement actions to will conserve and protect habitat for the Greater Sage-Grouse and other species at risk in southeastern Alberta.
Environment Canada recognizes the urgency requires with respect to the protection of the Greater Sage-Grouse. The Department is taking action to recover this species. We are evaluating individual threats, combined effects from multiple industries, as well as natural threats such as severe weather. It is important to note that before I make any recommendations regarding the request for an emergency order, this data needs to be considered.
Meanwhile, Ecojustice continues preparations for our court date with the Minister. On Valentine’s Day, we filed an application with the Federal Court, seeking a court order to force Minister Kent to recommend emergency protections for the sage-grouse and the habitat it needs to survive in Canada. Unfortunately, the Minister’s lack of meaningful action has made legal action necessary to save these birds from disappearing from Canada’s prairies.
Thanks for helping us send a strong message to Minister Kent. When we speak out together, we send a powerful reminder to decision-makers — that ultimately, they are accountable to us, and we expect them to fulfil their duties.