On May 12, 2004, the Minister of Water, Land and Air Protection introduced Bill 51, the Wildlife Amendment Act, 2004, which will, if passed, make significant changes to the province's Wildlife Act, intended to enhance protection for species which are at risk of extinction.
B.C.'s existing legal tools to protect endangered species are extremely weak, and any improvement to the legal framework for the protection for species facing extinction is a positive move. Nonetheless, even with these amendments the Wildlife Act falls far short of what is needed to protect species at risk, and BC legislation is far less effective than parallel federal legislation or legislation in other provinces. The failure to require science-based decisions about endangered species, and the wide political discretion left to the cabinet about whether and how to implement these protections, leave species with no guarantee of real protection. Moreover, the legislation may have the impact of actually reducing species protection by delaying federal action to protect species at risk.