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Environmental Issues, Wildlife Management
Canada Wildlife Act, conserve wildlife, bird sanctuaries, Canadian heritage, grizzly bears
Wildlife is an important component of the Canadian heritage. More than 90 percent of Canadians participate in wildlife-related activities, such as nature photography, wildlife watching, bird feeding, hunting, fishing, and subsistence use. In addition, many visitors come to Canada to view wildlife, especially birds and large mammals. Canada still has important wildlife populations, including a large proportion of the world’s stock of mountain sheep, wolves, and grizzly bears, but many animal populations have shrunk or even disappeared. These losses are due in part to overhunting in the days before hunting restrictions, and in part to habitat loss, which continues to this day. Agriculture, forestry, and urbanization change the landscape, reducing some important habitats and creating new ones.
Wildlife is a natural resource and therefore falls under provincial jurisdiction. However, the Canada Wildlife Act of 1973 enables the federal government to work with the provinces on wildlife conservation and research. It gives the federal government special responsibilities to protect and manage marine species and certain migratory birds, and to conserve wildlife and habitat of national or international importance. Endangered species and those that migrate across provincial or national boundaries are covered by the act, as are wetlands that provide waterfowl habitat. The federal Canadian Wildlife Service works with provincial wildlife agencies to establish annual revisions of hunting seasons and catch limits, undertake ecological research, coordinate national efforts to protect wildlife and habitat, and manage wildlife areas and bird sanctuaries.
In addition, some indigenous peoples have a special interest in wildlife, largely because it is important to their way of life. Contemporary treaties—covering most of the Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut—have provided indigenous peoples with a direct say in wildlife management in Canada’s north.
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