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Conserving Ontario's Mountain Lions

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We, the undersigned, hereby urge the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to publicly release a recovery strategy for the mountain lion (Puma concolor) by December 31, 2019.

Background:

In 2007, the Endangered Species Act (ESA) of Ontario was established with the intent of protecting over 200 species at risk. Under the ESA, the government of Ontario is required to play an active role in conserving native species. However, a decade after its enactment, the ESA has unfortunately not been effectively implemented, leaving species at risk in a vulnerable position.

One of the defining features of the ESA is the mandatory formation and implementation of recovery strategies by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) for all endangered and threatened species in Ontario. Recovery strategies are based on scientific findings and provide a framework of recommended measures to ensure the survival and recovery of a species. However, the MNRF may delay the release of a recovery strategy for a number of reasons.

Although the MNRF may sometimes be justified in deferring the release of a recovery strategy, we are concerned that this clause may serve as an excuse for the government to indefinitely postpone action towards the recovery of a species. According to a report by the David Suzuki Foundation, Ontario Nature, and Ecojustice, as of June 13, 2017, the MNRF has failed to make available recovery strategies for over 40 species, with some recovery strategies being more than seven years late (1). One such species is Canada’s largest wildcat, the mountain lion, Puma concolor.

As a top predator, mountain lions play an essential role in the ecosystem, and severe declines in population numbers can have drastic implications on the food web (2, 3). The mountain lion was classified as endangered in 2008 and its recovery strategy is at least eight years late (4). The MNRF justifies this delay by claiming that it is giving “priority to other species” (4). However, as conservation initiatives for the species have been delayed for almost a decade, this reasoning is no longer acceptable. Because of the mountain lion’s potentially crucial role in Ontario’s ecosystems and its acute sensitivity to human activity (5, 6), we believe that every effort should be taken to conserve the species. In other words, a recovery strategy is long overdue.

As concerned citizens, we, Carina Lai and Mary Kathleen Hickox, intend to write a formal letter to three members of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario: Ian Arthur, the MPP of Kingston and the Islands, the Hon. Rod Phillips, Minister of Environment, Conservation, and Parks, and the Hon. John Yakabuski, Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry. In this letter, we will urge the government to release a recovery strategy for the mountain lion. 

But there is something YOU can do. By signing this petition and giving us your support, you can show public servants that this issue matters to you. We hope to garner enough public support so that, combined with our letter, we will be successful in pressuring the provincial government to take action on the mountain lion’s dwindling numbers by the end of next year. Help us make a difference to stop the provincial government’s continued neglect of one of Canada’s most iconic species. 

Check out this website to learn more!

https://mary14kathleen.wixsite.com/mountainlions  

References

  1. Plotkin, R., Podolsky, L., Bell, A., Boan, J., & McDonald, S. (2017). Without a trace? Reflecting on the 10th anniversary of Ontario’s Endangered Species Act, 2007. Retrieved from https://davidsuzuki.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/without-trace-10th-anniversary-ontario-endangered-species-act.pdf
  2. Ripple, W. J., & Beschta, R. L. (2006). Linking a cougar decline, trophic cascade, and catastrophic regime shift in Zion National Park. Biological Conservation, 133(4), 397-408. doi:10.1016/j.biocon.2006.07.002
  3. Ripple, W. J., & Beschta, R. L. (2008). Trophic cascades involving cougar, mule deer, and black oaks in Yosemite National Park. Biological Conservation, 141(5), 1249-1256. doi:10.1016/j.biocon.2008.02.028
  4. Government of Ontario. (2018). Progress Updates and Forecasts for Selected Species at Risk in Ontario. Retrieved from https://files.ontario.ca/rs_progress_tracking_table_pdf_19april2018.pdf
  5. Dickson, B. G., Jenness, J. S., & Beier, P. (2005). Influence of vegetation, topography, and roads on cougar movement in southern California. The Journal of Wildlife Management, 69(8), 264-276. doi:10.2193/0022-541X(2005)069<0264:IOVTAR>2.0.CO;2
  6. Dyke, F. G. V., Brocke, R. H., Shaw, H. G., Ackerman, B. B., Hemker, T. P., & Lindzey, F. G. (1986). Reactions of mountain lions to logging and human activity. The Journal of Wildlife Management, 50(1), 95-102. doi:10.2307/3801496

Photo Credit:

Graham, D. (Photographer). (n.d.). Cougar, Puma concolor. [Digital image]. Retrieved from http://www.nature.ca/notebooks//english/cougar_p6.htm 



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