Environment Probe turned 20 this year. To our surprise and delight, we also learned this year that our foundation maintains Canada’s most popular environmental web site. The reason, we suspect, is that the public doesn’t like top-down environmentalism, and we have the field of community-based, market-oriented environmentalism pretty well to ourselves.
RJ Smith, from the Competitive Enterprise Institute in Washington DC, tells Canadian law-makers about the US experience with endangered species legislation: "From a public policy perspective, the US Endangered Species Act has been a failure — a complete and unmitigated disaster. If one had deliberately set out to create a law that would have harmed wildlife, destroyed habitat, and discouraged private landowners from protecting wildlife on their own lands, it would have been difficult to surpass the US Endangered Species Act. The ESA is causing tremendous harm to many of the very species it was designed to protect."
I am writing to ask for your help in saving our endangered species. Over the last 200 years, we have lost at least 27 species or subspecies of mammals, birds, reptiles, fish, molluscs, butterflies, and plants. The Queen Charlotte Islands no longer support a woodland caribou population; grizzly bears and black-footed ferrets no longer roam the Prairies; Ontario has lost the longjaw cisco and the blue walleye; the great auk and sea mink have disappeared from eastern Canada; and the Atlantic walrus and gray whale have abandoned the northwest Atlantic Ocean.
Conservation programs based on rewards rather than punishments have been widely tested and shown to work. In 1991, England established a Countryside Stewardship Scheme to conserve the landscape and to protect and extend wildlife habitats.
A proposed law forcing land owners to protect endangered species may actually hasten their demise. There are better ways of saving nature.
An overview of existing and proposed laws – provincial and federal – that can be used to protect endangered species and their habitat.