The chief of a British Columbia First Nation says members of his community are “furious” after the federal government reversed course on an emergency order to protect the endangered northern spotted owl.
Spuzzum First Nations Chief James Hobart says the nation’s anger comes after the Canadian Wildlife Service, a branch of the Department of Environment, said the federal government will not bring in an emergency order to prevent logging in two watersheds in B.C.’s lower Fraser River canyon.
Federal Minister of Environment Steven Guilbeault said earlier this year that he was recommending the emergency order to cabinet to protect the spotted owl from imminent threats to its survival and recovery.
In a letter announcing the reversal, the federal government says cabinet is instead endorsing “a collaborative approach” with the provincial government and Indigenous communities after considering factors such as socio-economic and legal impacts.
Hobart says the spotted owl is not only sacred to a number of First Nations, but is also a “messenger of the health” of the region’s old-growth forests because of its dependence on their ecosystems for survival.
There is only one known wild-born spotted owl, a female, living in the Fraser Canyon, while two more captive-bred males were released into the wild earlier this year.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 11, 2023.