What is the Species at Risk (NWT) Act?
The Species at Risk (NWT) Act provides a process to identify, protect and recover species at risk in the Northwest Territories (NWT). It applies to any wild animal, plant or other species managed by the Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT).
The Act applies on both public and private lands, including private lands owned under a land claim agreement.
Why do we need a territorial species at risk law when there is already a federal one?
Cooperation is crucial to the conservation and protection of species at risk. In 1996, the governments of the Northwest Territories and Canada, together with other provinces and territories, signed an Accord agreeing to establish complementary legislation and programs that provide for effective protection of species at risk throughout Canada.
The territorial Species at Risk (NWT) Act and the federal Species at Risk Act both apply in the NWT. They work together and cooperatively with Indigenous people to provide for the protection of wild species in the NWT and provide for the actions needed for their recovery. For nationally listed species outside of federal lands, the Species at Risk Act looks first to the provinces and territories to provide effective protection.
Having a territorial Species at Risk (NWT) Act allows concerns about species to be addressed at the NWT level. Sometimes, the status of species in the NWT can be different from the status in Canada as a whole. The actions needed to protect the species can be different too.
How are Aboriginal and Treaty rights respected under the Species at Risk (NWT) Act?
The Act respects Aboriginal and Treaty rights and cannot change or diminish these rights. The Act was developed collaboratively by a working group that included members of Indigenous governments and Indigenous organizations, the regional land claims organizations and wildlife co-management boards. The Act incorporates the wildlife management provisions and processes of the four settled land claim agreements. If there were ever a conflict between this Act and a land claim agreement, the land claim agreement would prevail.
How are hunting rights affected when a species is added to the NWT List of Species at Risk or when a recovery strategy or management plan is completed?
No automatic prohibitions or protections come into place when a species is assessed or listed, or when a recovery strategy or management plan is completed. These steps under the Species at Risk (NWT) Act do not affect anyone’s ability to harvest. An assessment is information and recommendations that the Species at Risk Committee (SARC) provides to the governments and wildlife co-management boards that are responsible for managing the species. The only legal requirement of a listing is to develop a management plan or recovery strategy. These plans include recommended actions to manage, conserve or recover the species, but are not legally binding.
What is the point of a management plan or recovery strategy if it is not binding?
A management plan or recovery strategy provides overarching guidance on the stewardship and long-term management of the species. The species at risk process (including assessment, listing, recovery planning and action) raises awareness of the species and the threats it faces, prompts discussion among the public and between governments, and triggers action from management partners to ensure threats are managed in a way to recover the species and prevent it from becoming further at risk.
How will we know if our actions are making a difference?
Success in conservation and recovery is generally measured by:
- Population trends (stable or increasing);
- Species distribution (continues to be found in its historical range and range recession has not occurred); and
- Species status (has not become at risk or further at risk when assessed/reassessed).
Other ways of measuring progress in conserving a species may also be identified in the management plan or recovery strategy.
Can the recovery strategy or management plan for a species be revised?
Every five years, Management Authorities review the objectives and actions in a recovery strategy or management plan and report on progress towards meeting those objectives. The recovery strategy/management plan does not automatically get updated following a progress report or review. However, if the review determines that the recovery strategy or management plan is no longer meeting the needs of the species, the Management Authorities may amend it.