Evading action

An in-depth look at Canada’s species in decline.

But since becoming law in 2003, the Species at Risk Act (SARA) has performed more like a lamb than the lion that scientists and environmentalists had hoped it would be. They hoped it would help wildlife recover from the devastating effects of climate change, habitat loss, pollution and overharvesting,

In dozens of cases, the federal government has either stalled, delayed or evaded taking legal protection for species that dwell on federal land.

It has also never used the so-called “safety net,” which gives it the power to protect species that may be at risk and not protected in any meaningful way in a province or territory.

In fact, the federal government has sometimes fought so hard not to do anything that a Federal Court of Canada justice recently ruled that Environment Minister Jim Prentice was in “clear contravention of the law” in one case that is likely to apply to many others.

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