Ontario Nature Blog

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Tag: American eel

Species at risk languishing in limbo

barn swallow, credit: GrrlScientist CC BY 2.0

barn swallow, Credit: GrrlScientist CC BY 2.0

When governments pass laws that set out explicit requirements and timelines for action to be taken, you would expect that they’d be prepared to obey the law. Not so with Canada’s Species at Risk Act (SARA).

Under SARA, the federal government must decide whether to list a species within nine months of receiving its designation as at risk by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC). Yet about 150 designated species at risk are stuck in limbo awaiting listing decisions.

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ESA regulation legal challenge


It is not easy to sit quietly in court while the opposing side takes a sledgehammer to your core values. For instance, as long as an endangered species doesn’t disappear from Ontario altogether, then Cabinet is free to approve any regulation it chooses under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Recovery and benefit to the species be damned. As long as the minister formed an opinion, that’s all we are entitled to know – not how the opinion was arrived at. Transparency and process be damned.

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The disappearance of the American eel

American eel

Photo: Erickson Smith

Hello Ontario Nature readers, my name is Amirah El-Safty. Today, I’d like to talk to you a little bit about the American eel.

The American eel is a freshwater species of eel,  in Canada you should be able to find them living in just about any fresh body of water, estuary or coastal marine waters that are connected to the Atlantic Ocean, but they are catadromous, which means they return to the ocean to breed. They aren’t pretty creatures, to be sure. Though not quite as menacing as Ursula’s twin moray eels Flotsam and Jetsam, they still have long, serpentine bodies, several rows of teeth, and embedded scales. Adult females can grow up to be a metre in length.

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