Updates to Ontario’s Endangered Species Act


» Posted by on Jan 23, 2013 in Posts | Comments Off

Latest updates to Ontario’s Endangered Species Act

By January 24, 2012 at the latest, Ontario will have two bat species, the Little Brown Myotis (a.k.a. Little Brown Bat) and the Northern Myotis (a.k.a. Northern Long-eared Bat), legally protected with Endangered status. As with all newly listed threatened or endangered species, both bats will immediately receive general habitat protection. Caves and mines form perhaps the most important element of their habitat. The bats begin moving to these areas in August to breed, then hibernate there from September to April or May. Little Brown Myotis generally forages in open areas near water, though is often found in more urban areas. Northern Long-eared Bats prefer moist boreal type forests. Both bats will roosts in buildings, under loose bark, and in the cavities of trees. Both species are present around Ottawa.

These bats, like other North American bat species, have been severely affected by White Nose Syndrome (WNS), a fungus that has decimated many bat colonies.

Both bats are voracious insectivores and should be welcome neighbours to residential areas. Efforts such as the construction of bat houses can make residential areas more welcoming to these bats.

Other important changes to the ESA in include:

  • The up-listing of Yellow-breasted Chat, a bird, to Endangered and two fish, Pugnose Minnow and Silver Chub, to Threatened, all formerly Special Concern. These species will all now have general habitat protection. They do not occur in the Ottawa area.
  • The listing of Silver Lamprey as Special Concern. This fish does occur around eastern parts of the Ottawa area. As Special Concern, it will not have habitat protection under the ESA but is habitat protected under the Fisheries Act.
  • Two good news stories with Peregrine Falcon down-listed from Threatened to Special Concern , and the Hooded Warbler completely delisted (not-at-risk). Special Concern status for the Peregrine Falcon means that the bird no longer has habitat protection under the ESA, but please note that both it, and its nest remain protected under the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act, and that falcon habitat will be treated as significant wildlife habitat under the Provincial Policy Statement.

The MNR updates the species at risk list approximately twice per year. Information on both current species at risk and upcoming species to be assessments are available from the MNR. The City of Ottawa also provides information on the status of local wildlife species. Tracking which species may be up for review over the following two years can help guide field studies now, reducing surprise expenses and delays later for development projects.