In this year’s annual report the Environmental Commissioner Gord Miller shines a light on the government response statements issued by the Ministry of Natural Resources (on behalf of the Ontario government) under the Endangered Species Act. The statements describe the actions that the government will undertake to recover species listed under the act.

In the report, the ECO recommends that “MNR ensure that government response statements clearly articulate the actions that the Ontario government will and will not take to protect and recover species at risk.

In a story published in the Toronto Sun, Miller suggests that the Ministry of Natural Resources recognize (or even fund!) non-government organizations that undertake recovery actions for species at risk in the province. Read the full story on the Toronto Sun’s Website:

The report also criticized the MNR for denying an application to the Environmental Commissioner’s Office to review the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act, 1997 to de-list snapping turtles as a “game reptile.” The Ministry denied the request because they intend to develop a management plan for the snapping turtle by September 2014, as required for species list as Special Concern under the Endangered Species Act . The ECO recommends that “MNR impose a moratorium or ban on the hunting of snapping turtles, at least until after this issue has been properly examined with full public consultation”.

The issue has been taken up by a group calling themselves the “Friends of the Snapping Turtles of Ontario” or FROST for short. A petition calling on the province of Ontario to remove the snapping turtle from the Ontario Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act hunted species list is available for on the Ontario Nature website. If you would like to add your name to the petition you can print and sign it, and mail the petition to the address found at the bottom of the form.

Be sure to read the ECO’s full annual report for more recommendations on protecting species at risk as well as other current environmental issues: