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Wild Animal Law of Canada

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Endangered Species and Ecosystems Act (Manitoba)

(current to 01 September 2016)

Note Re Application of the Endangered Species and Ecosystems Act ('ESEA')

The ESEA is Manitoba's species-at-risk (and ecosystem-at-risk) legislation. It applies to the species and ecosystems as set out in the module below.

This law bears on the wildlife issues of:
  • PROTECTION
  • OWNERSHIP AND POSSESSION
  • HABITAT
The full current text of the Endangered Species and Ecosystems Act and it's Regulations may be viewed at the Manitoba statute website.
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Table of Contents
1. Overview
(a) General
(b) Categories of Species at Risk
2. Administrative Management of Species at Risk and Habitat
3. Prohibitions
4. Habitat Protection
5. Enforcement
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1. Overview

(a) General

The purposes of the Endangered Species and Ecosystems Act ('ESEA') are to [ESEA 2(1)]:
  • ensure the protection and to enhance the survival of endangered and threatened species and species of special concern in the province;

  • to enable the reintroduction of extirpated species into the province; and

  • to conserve and protect endangered and threatened ecosystems in the province and promote the recovery of those ecosystems.
The Endangered Species and Ecosystems Advisory Committee ('ESEAC') is charged with providing "advice and recommendations to the minister with respect to (a) species that are endangered, threatened, extirpated or that are of special concern; and (b) ecosystems that are endangered or threatened" [ESEA 6,6.1].

The ESEA is unusual in comparison with other provincial species-at-risk legislation in that it categorizes not only species into various categories (each with their own administrative plans and statutory protections), but habitats ('ecosystems') as well. For these purposes, 'ecosystem' means "a dynamic complex of plant, animal and micro-organism communities and their non-living environment interacting as a functional unit" [ESEA 1(1)].

(b) Categories of Species at Risk

The provincial cabinet may, by regulation, declare species at risk into the following categories (which I refer to collectively as 'species at risk') [ESEA 8]:
  • Endangered

    Where the species "is threatened with imminent extinction or with extirpation throughout all or a significant portion of its Manitoba range".

  • Threatened

    Where the species "is likely to become endangered" or "is, because of low or declining numbers in Manitoba, particularly at risk if the factors affecting its vulnerability do not become reversed".

  • Extirpated

    Where "a species formerly indigenous to Manitoba no longer exists in the wild in Manitoba but exists elsewhere".

    For these purposes, 'indigenous' means "a species that is a breeding resident of Manitoba, or in some manner or degree occurs naturally in Manitoba, but does not include a species that was deliberately or accidentally introduced by people" [ESEA 1(1)].

  • Species of Special Concern

    Where "a species indigenous to Manitoba is at risk of becoming a threatened or endangered species because of a combination of biological characteristics and identified threats to the species".
Current species designations are set out in the Threatened, Endangered and Extirpated Species Regulation.


2. Administrative Management of Species at Risk and Habitat

Different levels of 'recovery strategies' and 'management plans' apply to the different categories of species at risk, as follows [ESEA 8.1]:
  • Endangered and Threatened Species

    The recovery strategies here are intended "to prevent any further reductions of the species and to promote the recovery" of endangered and threatened species.

  • Extirpated Species

    The recovery strategies here are intended to "set() out the steps to be taken to reintroduce the species in Manitoba, unless the minister determines that it is not practicable to reintroduce the species".

  • Species of Special Concern

    The management plans here are intended to "set() out the steps to be taken to manage the population of the species".

3. Prohibitions

The following prohibitions apply to species at risk (exemptions noted below) [ESEA 10(1)]:
  • it is prohibited to "kill, injure, possess, disturb or interfere with a member of an endangered species, a threatened species, or an extirpated species that has been reintroduced";

  • it is prohibited to "destroy, disturb or interfere with the habitat of an endangered species, a threatened species or an extirpated species that has been reintroduced";

  • it is prohibited to "damage, destroy, obstruct or remove a natural resource on which an endangered species, a threatened species or an extirpated species that has been reintroduced depends for its life and propagation".
Exemptions from these prohibitions may be authorized by [ESEA 10(2),11,12]:
  • a permit allowing the person to 'kill, take, collect or capture or to collect or capture and hold alive' "for scientific purposes or for purposes related to the protection, management or reintroduction of endangered, threatened or extirpated species";

  • with respect to proposed developments, a license issued under the Environment Act (see that module) where the Minister "is satisfied that ... protection and preservation of the species and its habitat is assured or ... appropriate measures are established, or will be established, to reduce to a minimum the impact of the development upon the species and its habitat".

4. Habitat Protection

For ESEA purposes, 'habitat' means "an area of land, water or air that contains the natural resources on which a species depends for its life cycle" [ESEA 1(1)].

Compare this definition to that for 'ecosystem', which is "a dynamic complex of plant, animal and micro-organism communities and their non-living environment interacting as a functional unit" [ESEA 1(1)]. As is set out here, the ESEA allows for the designation of ecosystems in a manner similar to the way in which species-at-risk are designated [ESEA 12.1]:
  • Endangered

    Where "the continued viability of an ecosystem is at serious risk throughout all or a significant portion of its Manitoba range".

  • Threatened

    Where "an ecosystem is at risk of becoming endangered".
Current ecosystem designations are set out in the Endangered and Threatened Ecosystems Regulation (they are alvar, and tall grass prairie).

Endangered and threatened ecosystems are subject to 'recovery strategies' which "set() out the steps to be taken to prevent any further losses of the ecosystem and to promote the recovery of the ecosystem" [ESEA 12.2].

The Minister may acquire, and even expropriate, lands for "the protection or reintroduction of an endangered, threatened or extirpated species, a species of special concern or the protection of an endangered or threatened ecosystem" [ESEA 7(1,2)]. Cabinet may "establish and maintain a system of ecosystem preservation zones in the province" [ESEA 12.3].


5. Enforcement

Enforcement officers ('officers') appointed under the Wildlife Act and the Conservation Officers Act, peace officers and customs officers may also enforce the ESEA [ESEA 1(1)]. They have typically regulatory enforcement authorities of entry, inspection, arrest and seizure [ESEA 12.7-12.10].

Officers may issue 'prevention orders' to prevent or discontinue violations of the Act [ESEA 12.13].

The ESEA has a broad offence provision to allow prosecution of violations [ESEA 13(1)].

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