A big win for spotted owl!

Wilderness Committee r1 Legal obligations don’t adjust to government processes, the tail doesn’t wag the dog. A come-back court win for the critically endangered spotted owl has got me all fired up. ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ­­ View in Browser

Legal obligations don’t adjust to government processes, the tail doesn’t wag the dog

Hi Paov,

A come-back court win for the critically endangered spotted owl has got me all fired up.

In January of 2023 when federal Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault sent us a letter announcing he had assessed an imminent threat to spotted owl recovery, we agreed! I mean we were down to one wild-born and two captive-bred owls left in the... entire country and the B.C. government was allowing its remaining habitat in Canada to be logged — that’s a pretty imminent threat.

He said he would recommend an emergency order to cabinet — because it was an emergency! So we waited…and waited…and waited. When all we got was complete silence, we filed a court case with our friends at Ecojustice, demanding that emergency order and questioning this lengthy delay. Then finally, after eight-months, the minister sounded the alarm bell to cabinet.

We took to the courts arguing that eight-month delay was completely unacceptable — and late last week the court concurred we were right and the minister was wrong!

Highlights from Justice Yvan Roy’s decision include: “either the threats are imminent or not,” “it is difficult to see how the protection of species does not call for measures to be taken urgently,” and “with three individual Spotted Owls left in the wild when the imminent threat was identified…a long delay can not be justified.”

The decision couldn’t be clearer — when a species is near extinction in Canada, the federal Species at Risk Act means the minister can’t remain silent while habitat destruction continues.

I’m not going to kid you. Over the past year, it felt like if we hadn't had bad luck in our fight to save the spotted owl, we wouldn't have had any luck at all. All last spring, summer and fall I travelled out to cutblock after cutblock approved for logging by the B.C. government — even though the old-growth forest being cut was federally mapped critical habitat for the spotted owl. It was soul-crushing to see the forest fall in the place hundreds of pairs of spotted owls once called home.

But we kept the faith. And even when the cabinet said no to issuing an emergency order to halt the logging in critical habitat, we stayed the course battling in the courts. And we won!

Both you and I know we still have a long way to go to victory for the spotted owl and the many other endangered species that call those forests home. Your support in the past has drawn the line against extinction. And your support will keep us in the fight.

Pitch in now for the owls

Thank you for holding the line. Together, we’ll continue to be the voice for at-risk species big and small.

For the wild,

Joe Foy

Protected Areas Campaigner
Wilderness Committee

P.S. Any gift today bolsters endangered-species’ chance for survival. With your support, we’ll use the precedents we just won to push for more protections. Together, you and I will ensure the plight of the spotted owl will never be repeated. Thank you for making a gift with impact.

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