The proposed works has the potential to adversely affect Blanding’s Turtle and its habitat. The proposed permit conditions would provide benefits that exceed the adverse effects on Blanding’s Turtle and its habitat.
Blanding’s Turtle is listed on the Species at Risk in Ontario (SARO) List, in Ontario Regulation 238/08 of the ESA, as threatened.
Subsection 9(1) of the ESA provides for the protection of endangered, threatened (and extirpated) species on the SARO list.
General habitat protection under subsection 10(1) of the ESA applies to Blanding’s Turtle.
The Minister may issue a permit under clause 17(2)(c) of the ESA that authorizes a person to engage in an activity that would otherwise be prohibited by section 9 or 10 of the ESA if the Minister is of the opinion that:
(i) an overall benefit to the species will be achieved within a reasonable time through the conditions of the permit;
(ii) reasonable alternatives have been considered, including alternatives that would not negatively affect the species, and the best alternative has been adopted; and,
(iii) reasonable steps to minimize negative effects on individual members of the species are required by conditions of the permit.
Providing an overall benefit to a protected species under the ESA involves undertaking actions to improve circumstances for the species in Ontario. Overall benefit is more than “no net loss” or an exchange of “like for like”. Overall benefit is grounded in the protection and recovery of the species at risk and must include more than mitigation measures or “replacing” what is lost.
Reasonable alternatives are being considered, including alternatives that would not adversely affect Blanding’s Turtle, and may include:
• Not proceeding with the proposed development project;
• Conducting the activity in an alternative location;
• Using alternate methods, equipment, designs, etc. for carrying out the proposed activities;
• Adjusting timelines to avoid species specific sensitivities (e.g., active periods for the species); and,
• Any other alternatives that address adverse effects (short or long term) on the species and habitat present on and/or surrounding the location of the proposed activity.
Potential approaches to minimize adverse effects on individual members of Blanding’s Turtle may include:
• Minimizing the amount of habitat damage and destruction by avoiding impacts to Category 2 and 3 Blanding’s Turtle habitat;
• Fencing and marking any habitat to be retained during and after construction to reduce damage to habitat as well as harming individual turtles;
• Keeping travel corridors used by the species intact to avoid isolation; and
• Species education and awareness training for construction staff.
Potential approaches to achieve an overall benefit for Blanding’s Turtle may include:
• Enhancing turtle habitat by undertaking channel restoration of Feedmill Creek to create a natural protected vegetated riparian corridor;
• Installation of barrier fencing along the restored riparian corridor to reduce turtle mortality; and
• Species information packages for new residents.
The Minister is required to consider any Government Response Statement (GRS) to a recovery strategy published under subsection 11(8) of the Act. A GRS does not currently exist for Blanding’s Turtle.
Please note that the posting of this proposal on the Environmental Registry does not imply that a permit will be approved; a permit may only be issued where the legal requirements set out in clause 17(2)(c) of the ESA have been satisfied.
The following web-links provide additional information.
MNRF’s Species at Risk website
Endangered Species Act, 2007
Species at Risk in Ontario (SARO) List, Ontario Regulation 230/08
General regulations and species-specific habitat regulations under the ESA, Ontario Regulation 242/08