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Additional Protection for Ontario Wildlife Habitat & Threatened Species

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Strict new definitions for “significant wildlife habitat” will offer more protection for Ontario wildlife.

According to journalist Tom Spears in the Ottawa Citizen, “protected sites could demand special treatment (such as not cutting trees or building roads) for hundreds of metres in all directions, up to a kilometre all around in the case of bat caves. They apply in urban and rural development alike.

Spears goes on to state: The Ministry of Natural Resources says it will not be applying the new definitions to existing properties or small residential projects. They will be “only considered as a result of a development application” and applied during an environmental impact study.

“Therefore Significant Wildlife Habitat is typically only determined when a subdivision, commercial development, golf course, aggregate operation, wind farm, and large solar project is proposed in an area that may be changing the existing land use,” the ministry wrote in a reply to questions.

 They are in addition to existing protection for significant wetlands, or areas with rare or threatened species such as butternut trees or bobolinks.
 
The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources says the changes would apply to new developments such as subdivisions, commercial construction or wind turbines, not to smaller projects such as renovating a house.

Follow the link above to the Ottawa Citizen to read the entire article by Spears.

Senate backs Runciman’s call for wind farm moratorium

Press release from the office of Senator Bob Runciman

OTTAWA, Nov. 30, 2011 – The Senate of Canada today unanimously backed a motion by Senator Bob Runciman calling on the province of Ontario to institute a moratorium on wind-farm development along eastern Lake Ontario until the impact on birds and bats can be studied.

Senator Runciman (Ontario– Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes) noted that the region from the eastern tip of Wolfe Island to the western end of Prince Edward County is a crucial route for migratory birds and bats. He is concerned about plans for wind energy projects on Amherst Island west of Kingston and at Ostrander Point in Prince Edward County – both of which would be located in internationally recognized Important Bird Areas. Both projects are in the final stages of approval by the Ontario government.

“Much of my concern flows from the bird and bat kill rates experienced with the development of the wind farm on Wolfe Island, east of the two proposed projects and also in a designated Important Bird Area,” Runciman said, noting that Nature Canada says Wolfe Island has a kill rate for birds and bats seven times the industry average in Canada primarily because it is located in the wrong spot.

Runciman lauded Nature Canada for its leadership on the issue, but noted that “they’ve been a voice in the wilderness, so to speak. Environmental groups one would expect to assist in protecting bird populations have been shockingly silent, in effect allowing green energy production to trump alarming bird and bat kill rates and even the threat to endangered species.”

Environment Canada describes Ostrander Point as one of the best areas for birds in southern Ontario, Runciman said. “It’s surprising that someone believes it is a good idea to put wind turbines on this spot. Hard as it is to believe, the landlord, the owner of the property, is the province of Ontario.”

“Clean renewable energy should help, not harm, wildlife,” Runciman told fellow senators, but the long-term cumulative effect of the current Ontario policy could pose a grave danger to several species, including species at risk.

 For more information, please contact:

Barry Raison, Office of Senator Bob Runciman

(613) 943-4020 (office) or (613) 297-2069 (cell)

raisob@sen.parl.gc.ca

Wolfe Island wind turbines cause disappearance of short-eared owl

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Short-eared Owl

By Paul Schliesmann The Whig-Standard

The short-eared owl, listed as a species of special concern in Canada, has all but disappeared from the west end of Wolfe Island. A noted Kingston-area birder says the decline has everything to do with the construction and startup of wind turbines on that part of the island two years ago. “They’re definitely avoiding the area,” said Kurt Hennige, who has been watching and documenting the short-eared populations on Wolfe Island for more than 25 years. 

Read the entire story…