N.S. court ruling orders province to better protect endangered species

JUSTICE

The Nova Scotia Supreme Court says the province failed to meet its duty to protect species at risk, and it is ordering the minister of lands and forestry to fulfil his obligations.

Justice Christa Brothers says in a ruling issued Friday there has been a ``chronic and systemic failure'' to take action required under the Endangered Species Act.

Brothers cites a 2016 report by the provincial auditor general, a followup report by the department on the auditor's recommendations in 2018 and the 2018 Lahey Report on forestry practices to back her conclusion.

The ruling is the result of a judicial review application by the Federation of Nova Scotia Naturalists, the Blomidon Naturalists Society, the Halifax Field Naturalists and wildlife biologist Bob Bancroft that was heard last fall.

The groups argued that Lands and Forestry Minister Iain Rankin has failed to meet requirements under the act, including requirements to devise and implement recovery plans for species at risk, create recovery teams and identify core habitats.

They cited six animal and plant species as examples - the mainland moose, Canada warbler, eastern wood pewee, wood turtle, ram's head lady's slipper and black ash.