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Jul 29, 2006
Dear Minister Dion,

The most direct threat to many endangered species today is that they are being hunted for their parts or captured alive to be traded.  A basic tenet of conservation biology maintains that animal populations must remain above species-specific thresholds in order to survive the natural variations of living in the wild.  Higher numbers mean better resilience.

Hunting and live capture directly diminish wild-living animal populations, rendering them highly susceptible to changes in the availability of resources they need to survive, disease outbreak, wildfire or other natural disaster, and of course, pressures due to man's direct or indirect interference in their habitat. 

Hunting for parts and live capture are occurring despite an international treaty banning the trade in endangered species brokered by the United Nations.  CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (www.cites.org) is no different than any other treaty in that it must be enforced in order to be effective.

In all of Canada, Environment Canada only has 50 wildlife officers. Only half of them work on CITES, and of that tiny group, only 8 officers perform border inspections. This is unacceptable considering that Canada is a source, as well as a consumer, of CITES-listed species.

Canada is not alone in this.  Many nations are guilty of the same negligence to commit resources.  I am pushing for my own country to improve its commitment to enforce CITES, and participate in any campaign that asks governments to step up allocation of staff and other needed assets. 

Environment Canada must significantly increase the number of wildlife officers across Canada if it is to honor its CITES obligations and stop the illegal wildlife trade.
I respectfully ask that you use your power and influence to bolster Environment Canada, to make it a force to reckon with.

I leave you with this article describing the new era of environmental enforcement in South Africa.

Sincerely,
Melanie B.

‘Green police’ bring muscle to battle to protect environment 

by Chantelle Benjamin
Johannesburg Metro Editor

GOVERNMENT has established a new environmental policing unit with the same investigative and arresting powers as the police.
 
This move will see businesses or individuals who flout environmental legislation brought to book.  New regulations relating to the National Environmental Management Act, which were put in place this year, have given environmental authorities much-needed teeth to fight destruction of the environment by those who plunder natural resources or dump toxic material.
The environmental management inspectors unit has been set up to give the environmental affairs and tourism department the ability to enforce the law. There is an increased chance of arrest and there are heavy penalties.

Gauteng has become the first province to launch its environmental management inspectors unit. Members completed an intensive training course run by the department and the University of Pretoria.

The programme was supported by the environmental agencies of England and Wales as well as the Environmental Protection Agency of the US.

The new unit, succeeding an earlier group known as the Green Scorpions, will have powers of search and seizure, will be able to set up road blocks, issue enforceable compliance notices and carry out routine inspections. Fines of up to R5m can be issued for contraventions.

This gives environmental management teams the capacity to prevent abuse.
Gauteng conservation and environment MEC Khabisi Mosunkutu said yesterday that the unit heralded a new period for environmental management.

“It will convey a positive and firm message to the Gauteng community that they now have a force exclusively dedicated to ensuring no one will, with impunity, degrade the environment and compromise our health.

“The honeymoon for environmental criminals is coming to an end. The (inspection units) are well trained and sufficiently well motivated to deal with (them).”
The units were set up to comply with constitutional obligations. These say South African citizens have a right to a clean environment that is not harmful to their health and wellbeing.
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Posted: Jul 29, 2006 3:07pm

 

 
 
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Melanie B.
, 3
Pittsburgh, PA, USA
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