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What are Species at Risk?

In Ontario, rare native species are described as at risk and classified according to their rarity:
Endangered species are facing extinction or extirpation (extinction in the wild in Ontario, yet surviving elsewhere)
Extirpated species.
Threatened species are in danger of becoming endangered.
Species at risk are sensitive to human activities or natural events which might cause them to become endangered or threatened.
More than 190 of Ontario’s native wild species are at risk because of habitat loss, pollution, changing land use and the spread of invasive species. Ontario laws protect species at risk.
Ostrander Point Species at Risk
Organizations such as Environment Canada and the Ontario Breeding Bird Atlas have documented many bird species at risk in the Prince Edward County South Shore Important Bird Area, which includes Ostrander Point. But the Stantec Environmental Assessment for Gilead Power’s Ostrander Point industrial wind turbine project lists the whip-poor-will and the Blanding’s turtle as the only endangered species at the Ostrander Point site.
Why doesn’t Stantec’s report include the black tern, loggerhead shrike, Henslow’s sparrow, short-eared owl, king rail, least bittern and red-headed woodpecker? All have been reliably documented at Ostrander Point.
The Endangered Species Act requires that each species at risk be considered. Habitat requirement regulations must be developed specifically for that species. Yet at Ostrander Point, seven endangered species have been completely ignored.
The Special Case of the Henslow’s Sparrow
The Henslow’s sparrow was one of the few endangered species identified as a priority by Stantec in its study. The study said that no optimal habitat for the sparrow was found at Ostrander Point, just some bits of marginal habitat. Environment Canada doesn’t seem to think so.
In the 1990s, Ostrander Point was identified as potential habitat in Environment Canada’s Recovery Strategy for the Henslow’s sparrow. According to the Recovery Strategy, Environment Canada followed a brushing and controlled burn policy, supported by the local Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources District Ecologist. The policy was a success: Henslow’s sparrows were seen at Ostrander Point in 1999 and 2000. Environment Canada used this success to show how habitat restoration could lead to positive results for endangered species.

A Threat to so many Endangered Species
Ostrander Point is important to many species at risk – most of them not even mentioned in the Stantec study. Environment Canada’s Recovery Strategy demonstrates that the area is important to the restoration of the Henslow’s sparrow.
Ostrander Point is too important to endangered species to become an industrial site. It should not be developed.

Filed Under: Uncategorized

About the Author: The Prince Edward County Field Naturalists, founded in 1997, is an affiliate of Ontario Nature. It provides an educational forum dedicated to the study, promotion, appreciation and conservation of the flora and fauna within Prince Edward County. The public is welcome at the meetings held on the last Tuesday of the month from September to May, except December, at Bloomfield Town Hall. Guest speakers introduce a variety of nature related topics. All members are encouraged to participate at meetings by sharing their experiences and observations. Regularly scheduled field trips in the vicinity offer members the opportunity to experience various habitats. Membership in PECFN is open to all. Contact: Prince Edward County Field Naturalists, P.O. Box 477, Bloomfield, Ontario K0K 1G0 Or Cheryl Anderson 613-471-1096

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  1. David Norman says:

    Back in the mid 1970’s I assisted Professor’s, Howard Dougherty and John Livingston in the Graduate Faculty of Environmental Studies at York University in developing the species status paradigm for the Federal Ministry of the Environment. Although I only played a small role, by developing the multi-variate statistical analysis for species status determination which came to be known as the Endangered Species Matrix, I alone spent thousands of hours working on this. Others had invested much more time and effort… some such as John Livingston had devoted a lifetime. At the time we were assured that the resulting legislation based on the evidence this analysis tool produced, would determine the standards and actions the Ministry would apply to species protection. I have seen this violated in so many cases since that time that I no longer expect justice or even prudent action in this regard. Ostrander is just another example of how this effort has been warped and/or ignored to serve political and corporate interests that use shallow ecology such as IWTs represent, to further their anthropocentric agendas.

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