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UBCIC Calls on Canada and the Province to Take First Nations Lead in Northern Spotted Owl Protection

Press Release

(xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil Waututh)/Vancouver, B.C. – October 20, 2023) The Union of BC Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) is outraged and gravely concerned at Canada’s decision to reject an emergency order to protect Northern Spotted Owl habitat from logging. UBCIC is seeking substantive action from Environment and Climate Change Canada to support effective conservation measures for the spotted owl, coordinated with Spuzzum First Nation, Canada, and the Province of British Columbia. Decades of decline for this species, despite the tools available under the Species at Risk Act and supposed logging deferrals in their habitat, point to the urgent need to use every tool available to act quickly the stewardship of spotted owls and ground-truth the effectiveness of conservation actions.

The Draft Tripartite Framework Agreement on Nature Conservation between Canada, BC, and First Nations that is underway, and recently endorsed through resolution by UBCIC, is not specific to Northern Spotted Owl conservation and does not preclude the parties from doing everything within their means to act with urgency to prevent further destruction of spotted owl habitat. The Agreement is not yet signed and will take significant work to implement.

“To delay strong conservation measures further would be unconscionable” said Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, UBCIC President. “If there are still any trees being logged in spotted owl habitat, that must be stopped immediately, on the ground and not just on paper. Having a ‘good relationship’ with First Nations is beside the point. BC and Canada must work with First Nations and develop stronger stewardship and more effective conservation measures before the Spotted Owl becomes extinct in BC.”

“There are only three spotted owls left in the wild in BC, if you count the two that were released from captivity this year – this is not a success story,” said Chief Don Tom, UBCIC Vice President. “It is entirely unreasonable to claim that there is no imminent threat to their survival. We are appalled that the Canadian Government under Trudeau’s Liberals voted down the emergency order, despite a strong recommendation from Minister Guilbeault to proceed.”

Chief Marilyn Slett, UBCIC Secretary-Treasurer, concluded “There are still spotted owls in the wild today because of the resolute leadership from Spuzzum First Nation, who have been working for years to prevent further loss of this species. BC and Canada must take the lead from First Nations on questions of conservation to reverse the course that they are on with plummeting biodiversity.”

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Media inquiries:

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President, 250-490-5314

Chief Don Tom, Vice-President, 604-290-6083

Chief Marilyn Slett, Secretary-Treasurer, 250-957-7721

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