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Environment minister not doing enough to protect endangered birds, court rules

A threatened Island seabird’s recent win in court is good news for endangered birds across Canada.

Now, federal environment minister Stephen Guilbeault must reconsider his ministry’s duties to protect all endangered birds, including the threatened marbled murrelet, which nests in the mossy branches of old-growth trees along the coastline.

The minister issued a “protection statement” for the birds in 2022 after the south Island Fairy Creek blockade to protect old growth trees got national attention. However, last week Justice Paul Crampton ruled it wasn’t good enough. He says that critical habitat needs to be protected for threatened birds, not just their nests.

“This decision is a win for the endangered and threatened birds that call Canada home, whether they nest high in old-growth trees in British Columbia or on islands in Atlantic Canada,” said Ecojustice lawyer Andhra Azevedo in a statement after the court decision. “For almost 20 years of the Species at Risk Act, federal ministers have avoided their legal duties to protect critical habitat while habitat loss and degradation have continued to be the primary threats to most of these bird species. Now, the Federal Court has confirmed that the law requires the federal government to do more to ensure the survival and recovery of these species.”

Ecojustice brought the case to court last fall on behalf of the Sierra Club of BC and the Wilderness Committee.

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RELATED: Environmental groups take Feds to court over endangered seabirds

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