Wild bees need love
A lot has changed since we wrote the previous federal Environment Minister about her duty to act to protect four at-risk wild bees. Friends of the Earth and four other environmental groups, represented by Ecojustice, pointed out to the then Minister that she routinely failed to list species for protection under the Species at Risk Act (SARA) by missing legally defined deadlines. At that time, it was estimated that 151 at-risk species had their legal protection unlawfully delayed by the Government.
Scroll forward to today and we’ve taken the same important first step of advising the new Environment Minister that she has a duty to act to protect four at-risk wild bees. But today, we have high expectations. We have a new government that has signaled its intention to restore scientific capacity and integrity. It is vigorously tackling the biggest threat to the planet – climate change and now, we suggest it extend that same vigor to protecting some its smallest constituents, wild bees.
Last year I wrote about the small but oh so important committee of scientists and citizens out in the field counting and monitoring and assessing wild bees. Their findings have been deeply disturbing. And what is even more disturbing is that the urgency of their assessments have been ignored.
Because of their important work, we believe all the pieces are in place to support urgent action. There is a system available that can and should provide vital recovery action for these important wild bees – scientists have reported their assessment through the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) recommending listing as endangered under our Species at Risk Act (SARA).
Now, the federal Minister of the Environment must designate these four bees for protection under SARA; otherwise, no recovery work, no protection will be triggered.
Can we afford to forget these wild bees? From Nova Scotia the Macropis Cuckoo Bee, from British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan, the Western Bumble Bee occidentalis, from the Yukon, Northwest Territories and British Columbia, the Western Bumble Bee mckayi, and from all over Canada, the Gypsy Cuckoo Bumble Bee. It’s time to get recovery work underway pdq by officially listing these four wild bees under the Species at Risk Act.
Friends of the Earth is sending out a Valentine’s Day action asking federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna to show wild bees some love. And, sure, I had some fun calling her Canada’s Beekeeper-in-Chief. But, it’s no joke. We’re starting with a warm and fuzzy action to spotlight a critical file among the hundreds and thousands of files a new government has to address. But hovering in the background is a tough love option of using the provisions of SARA to insist through the courts on protective action.
I hope you’ll show your love for wild bees by sending Minister McKenna a warm fuzzy Valentine. Wild bees need your love and your voice.