Firm Fined $490,000 For Damaging Turtle Habitat

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An endangered Blanding’s Turtle at the Rouge National Urban Park. Pic: Parks Canada/ Creator: Ishkhan Ghazarian

Ottawa: A property owner in Ottawa has been convicted for damaging endangered species habitat and ordered by court to pay approximately $490,000 for recovery efforts.

Description of Offence – The conviction relates to the company unlawfully damaging the habitat of a threatened species, as listed under the Species at Risk in Ontario List (the Blanding’s Turtle), contrary to s.10(l)(a) of the Endangered Species Act, 2007.

Date of Offence – During the period beginning on or about December 2016 and ending on or about May 2017 Date of Conviction – August 26, 2021 Penalty Imposed – 1041400 Ontario Inc. was convicted of damaging Blanding’s Turtle habitat.

A court order was issued that ordered the company to:

1. Complete the proposed enhancement work outlined under the Endangered Species Act Permit on the property’s Feedmill Creek corridor, which is expected to cost M&A Rentals Inc. approximately $400,000 over the life of the project (until 2025).

2. Pay $90,000 to the Nature Conservancy of Canada to assist in the protection or recovery of Blanding’s Turtles.

• 1041400 Ontario Inc. owns a property in the City of Ottawa.

• In April 2016, during a meeting with City of Ottawa staff, the company was advised that the property contained Blanding’s Turtle habitat and that the turtle species is listed as threatened under the ESA. The city also indicated that the company would require a permit from the Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry if the habitat was to be altered.

• From December 2016 to May 2017, portions of the property were cleared by heavy equipment retained by the company and included the cutting/removal of shrubs and other vegetation and the movement of topsoil that was pushed into piles and berms on-site.

• An investigation was initiated by the Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry.

• The investigation revealed that the company had damaged Blanding’s Turtle habitat by reducing or eliminating wet and vegetated areas utilized by the species for cover, feeding and migration purposes.

• At the time the work was completed, no permit had been obtained by the company. Parks Canada says: “The Blanding’s turtle, a long-lived species with a life span of up to 80+ years, is listed as an threatened species provincially, nationally and globally.

“Populations are highly sensitive to human-induced threats such as habitat loss and fragmentation caused by urban development and drainage of wetlands for agriculture, road mortality, and increased levels of predation due to predators”.

The Blanding’s Turtle HeadStart Conservation Program, co-led by Parks Canada and the Toronto Zoo, added 48 juvenile Blanding’s turtles to Rouge National Urban Park on June 22, 2021 as part of recovery efforts to support this threatened species in the Greater Toronto Area.

There are eight species of turtles in Ontario and all eight of them are listed as Species at Risk. On top of that, three of the eight species are listed as Endangered. Although there are several factors contributing to their decline in population, one of the biggest threats to turtles is road mortality, according to Parks Canada

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