VANCOUVER, August 26/2002 - The Humane Society of Canada is demanding that the federal government do more than just designate the Orca populations off the coast of British Columbia as ‘At Risk’ and take action to protect them. "Public citizens and groups in the United States recently announced they are suing their government for failing to protect orcas. In Canada, we don't even have an Endangered Species Act," said Al Hickey, Western Regional Director for The Humane Society of Canada.

 

There have been a range of studies showing that the entire marine environment along the western coast of the United States and Canada is experiencing problems, and The Humane Society of Canada believes that we need to act now in a concerted effective way to protect marine life and the environment.

 

"Right now, the Canadian bill to protect endangered species is stalled in the Senate. Since 1969, fighting between the various levels of government has meant that endangered species and habitat have been without any meaningful protection. This is an issue that Canadians from all walks of life can agree on. We want an effective federal law that provides the necessary human, financial and technical resources to protect endangered species and their homes," said HSC Executive Director, Michael O'Sullivan.

Although in 1991, the southern resident killer whales (orcas) were listed as endangered by the federal government, officials have done nothing to actually protect the species he says. O'Sullivan promises that The Humane Society of Canada will continue to expose government's misleading information to the public that a body known as COSEWIC is looking after endangered species and habitat in Canada:

  • COSEWIC stands for the Committee on the Status of Endangered Species of Wildlife in Canada;
  • The Committee is primarily made up of the provincial, territorial and federal game agencies who have been fighting with each other and who for the past 33 years have prevented the passage of a federal endangered species law;
  • Under the current system, the Committee publishes an annual list of what they describe as species at risk, but there is no legal requirement for them to actually do anything with their findings;
  • Only several thousand dollars are normally made available to study a species at risk, and even worse, scientific investigators who prepare species assessment reports are told never to include recommendations for an action plan;
  • The Committee can also decide to make reports confidential;
  • The Committee is heavily influenced by industries, such as the fur trade, which do not want a species declared endangered or at risk because they are afraid of a public backlash against the slaughter of wildlife for fur coats;
  • Many so called 'recovery plans' have been drafted, but few have ever been implemented;
  • All that COSEWIC does in the opinion of The Humane Society of Canada is put species and habitat that is at risk on a 'death watch list' something neither common sense nor the public wants;

The net effect, according to The Humane Society of Canada is that the public is misled into thinking that something meaningful is actually being done to save endangered species and their habitats, when nothing could be further from the truth says the charity.

"The time for talk is long over. At the turn of the last century, we killed more species and destroyed more habitat than in all of human history put together. We have entered a new Millennium. And we can either be ruled by common sense or the same kind of insanity that fuelled our behaviour for the last one hundred years," said O'Sullivan.

CONTACT: Michael O'Sullivan by toll free 1-800-641-KIND or Michael on his cell phone (416) 876-9685 or at www.humanesociety.com via twitter at www.twitter.com/HSCanada and on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Humane-Society-of-Canada/211468055538280

[For more than 17 years, Al Hickey was the Chief Executive of the BC SPCA and before that headed up the Alberta and BC Chambers of Commerce, and was the Executive Director of the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Vancouver. He has been The HSC Western Regional Director for over 12 years. He has 4 children and 6 grandchildren. For his lifetime of achievement dedicated to helping people, animals and the environment, we have bestowed upon him our prestigious Heroes for Animals Award, shared by only a handful of people and organizations.

A father with two children, and a houseful of dogs and cats, Michael O'Sullivan has worked across Canada and in over 110 countries during the last 40 years helping people, animals and nature.]

The Humane Society of Canada (HSC) works to protect dogs, cats, horses, birds, rabbits and small animals, livestock, lab animals, wildlife and the environment. We carry out hands on programs to help animals and nature, mount rescue operations, expose cruelty through hard hitting undercover investigations, work to pass laws to protect animals, use a multidisciplinary approach, support animal shelters and wildlife rehabilitation centres, and spread the word about how to help animals and nature through humane education.

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