Amendment of Ontario Regulation 197/11 made under the Endangered Species Act, 2007 with regard to agricultural operations and Bobolink and Eastern Meadowlark.
Ontario Regulation 197/11
Regulation - LGIC
Bill or Act:
Endangered Species Act, 2007
Summary of Decision:
A decision was made to proceed with the proposal. The proposal was implemented by an amendment to O. Reg. 197/11 by O. Reg. 178/14. This regulation was filed by the Registrar of Regulations on September 12, 2014 and will be published in the Ontario Gazette on September 27, 2014.
April 17, 2014
Summary of Proposal:
The Endangered Species Act, 2007 (the ESA or the act) came into effect on June 30, 2008, along with two regulations that support implementation of the act: Ontario Regulation (O. Reg.) 242/08 - General Regulation and O. Reg. 230/08 - the Species at Risk in Ontario (SARO) List. The act includes provisions that protect species listed as endangered or threatened on the SARO List and their habitats. The General Regulation, O. Reg. 242/08, allows certain activities to proceed that would otherwise contravene the species and habitat protection provisions of the ESA, provided specific conditions are followed to protect species and their habitat.
Bobolink and Eastern Meadowlark are grassland birds that are listed as threatened species on the SARO List. These two bird species nest in high densities in hay and pasture agricultural fields and the breeding period for both species, from May to July, broadly coincides with the time of year that hay is harvested and livestock are pastured. Hay and pasture acreage has been declining in Ontario for many decades. The protection and recovery of these two species requires the consideration and collaboration of the agricultural sector, rural landowners, and other stakeholders.
Recognizing that hay and pasture agricultural lands provide the greatest percentage of Bobolink and Eastern Meadowlark habitat in Ontario and that the successful recovery of the species depends on the agricultural community, a transitional exemption was previously put in place to allow farmers to continue to manage their lands for agricultural production and subsequently to provide essential habitat.
In two previous regulations, the government amended O. Reg. 242/08 to provide an exemption period of approximately three years during which the protection provisions of the ESA would not apply to an agricultural operation with respect to Bobolink and Eastern Meadowlark and their habitats. This period, currently set out in section 4.1 of the regulation, expires at the end of October 2014.
The Bobolink and Eastern Meadowlark Round Table (the Round Table), an advisory group comprised of stakeholders representing agriculture, conservation, and certain industrial and development sectors, submitted a report to MNR in November 2013 (the Round Table Report). The report sets out a key recommendation for "an integrated solution package" that includes a 10-year extension of the current exemption for agriculture. The Ministry is actively considering the recommendations in this report.
The Ministry of Natural Resources is seeking public input on a proposal for a regulation amendment to continue the exemption for agricultural operations for an interim period of 14 months (until December 2015). This interim exemption will give the ministry time to engage the public and stakeholders, develop a protection and recovery approach for the species, and evaluate the package of Round Table recommendations (which includes a 10-year exemption for agricultural operations, stewardship incentives for landowners, research and monitoring, and education and outreach to support the protection and recovery of Bobolink and Eastern Meadowlark) and develop the government response statement. This exemption will also give the agricultural sector greater certainty for the interim, in time for spring agricultural operations.
September 12, 2014