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HFN co-litigant in legal action for Nova Scotia’s species at risk

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“After intense deliberation, the board of the Halifax Field Naturalists has decided to support the lawsuit by becoming co-litigants, as has the Blomidon Naturalists Society.”

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Jan 14, 2019 Press Release

Mr. Bob Bancroft and three of Nova Scotia’s naturalists’ societies say it is time to ask the courts to intervene on behalf of Nova Scotia’s most at-risk wildlife and plants.

“The Department of Lands and Forestry has mandatory legal obligations under the Endangered Species Act that have not been fulfilled,” explains retired Acadia University biology professor Dr. Soren Bondrup-Nielsen, president of Blomidon Naturalists Society, one of the parties to the legal proceedings. “We’re simply asking the Court to tell our government to do what it is already required to do by law.”

In court documents filed today, the applicants allege that the Department of Lands and Forestry (formerly the Department of Natural Resources) has failed to meet its legal obligations with respect to 34 species, including mainland moose, wood turtle, bank swallow, and a host of other species designated at risk in Nova Scotia.

“The Department has not yet identified core habitat for our mainland moose, a requirement that is now over-due by more than a decade,” says wildlife biologist Bob Bancroft, president of the Federation of Nova Scotia Naturalists (also known as Nature Nova Scotia).

The legal documents allege that the Department of Lands and Forestry has not yet identified a single acre of core habitat of threatened and endangered species, despite the legal requirement to do so under the Endangered Species Act.

Other short-comings noted in the documents include failures to appoint recovery teams and create recovery plans within the time-frames required under the Act.

“This is a rule of law case,” notes Jamie Simpson, lawyer for the applicants. “The Act requires the Minister of Lands and Forestry to do certain things towards the recovery of species at risk in Nova Scotia. We are asking the Court to uphold the rule of law and require the Department to abide by the Act.”

The Department’s short-comings with respect to species at risk has been reported several times. In 2015, the East Coast Environmental Law Association published a report calling on the Department to address the alleged violations of the Species at Risk Act. In 2016, the Office of the Auditor General of Nova Scotia published a review of the Department’s track-record on species at risk, noting the alleged failure to fulfill mandatory requirements under the Act.