SARA Session Summaries

Species at Risk Speaker Session Summaries

On November 19th, 2015 the EMA of BC hosted a speaker session on the Species at Risk Act (SARA). The event attracted a wide variety of environmental professionals including government, consultants, industry, and technical service providers. The session was well attended and highly interactive as attendees engaged in question and answer periods for all four presentations.

The first presentation was led by Canadian Wildlife Services’ Blair Hammond and Andrew Robinson, Species at Risk Manager and Senior Environmental Assessment Officer: SAR Approvals and Process.
– The Act provides for: national species status assessment, listing, planning for recovery of listed species, ensuring basic protection and public reporting
– SARA process : assessment, listing/delisting, planning, protection and reporting
– Assessment: based on status of wildlife in Canada, not globally
– Listing: 521 listed in Canada, 41% in the Canadian Pacific
– Recovery planning: management plant created for species of concern
– SARA Conservation Agreements: Section 11 allows Minister of Environment to enter in conservation agreement with any government in
– Canada, organization or person to benefit species at risk or to enhance it’s survival in the wild
– SARA is a backstop legislation; use of regulatory rules are rare; provinces and terretories are given first opportunities to implement measures
– Permits under SARA: needed when Act’s prohibitions apply (activities on federal land, when individual species at risk are affected or where critical habitat protected by SARA)
– As QEPs

  • Use the BC Species and Ecosystem Explorer to familiarize yourself with species that are listed under SARA
  • Has critical habitat for those species been proposed or identified?

– Protection of critical habitat on private/provincial Crown Land

  • No federal prohibitions in BC
  • Provincial and local governments have first opportunity to provide protection of critical habitat

– SARA and CEAA 2012: measures and info generated through SARA very relevant to environmental assessment processes

Cool Tools – Innovative Environmental Monitoring Techniques
By Jennie Christensen, PhD, Toxicologist at Stantec

Jennie presented on using “cool tools” – non-invasive innovative environmental monitoring techniques for contaminant monitoring projects. The cool tool that was the main focus of the presentation was laser-ablation technology. To demonstrate the technologies uses Jennie highlighted a few of her studies using this technology; one was around bears using a single hair to determine metals concentrations; another was a feather from an osprey. She further discussed this technology being used on other tissue samples and its usefulness in aquatic, terrestrial and human environments for monitoring contaminant uptake and overall health.

Jennie has been working in the field of toxicology and environmental biology for 20 years through consulting and academia. She has worked with bears, otters, small mammals, fish, amphibians and raptors. Her specialty is developing novel approaches to monitoring contaminant uptake and health using non-invasive techniques.

Environmental DNA (eDNA) – A Revolutionary Sampling Technique for Aquatic Ecological Studies
By Jared Hobbs, MSc, RPBio, Technical Expert, Terrestrial Ecology at Hemmera

Jarred’s presentation focused on environmental deoxyribonucleic acid (eDNA), a new revolutionary sampling technique for aquatic ecological studies. The reason this new method came to fruition is due to the fact that most animals living in aquatic environments exogenously shed DNA as they complete their life processes, such as gametes, dead skin cells, hair, urine, etc. This material is suspended in aquatic ecosystems and can be detected via collection and subsequent laboratory analysis of water samples collected from occupied habitats. Some key strengths of eDNA are; it facilitates early detection & monitoring for species management or regulatory concern, useful for detection of inconspicuous species, can be cost effective, accurate and less invasive. This new method, referred to as eDNA, is rapidly gaining recognition and acceptance as a robust and efficient method for reliable detection of species presence in both lotic and lentic systems. Slides of the presentation are available here.

Jared Hobbs is a professional biologist with 22 years of applied experience designing and leading species assessment and conservation projects at both the local and provincial scale. For 15 years he focused on species at risk (in British Columbia) and maintained a leadership role, at a provincial level, in the design, implementation and reporting phase of numerous projects. Jared has maintained a strong focus on avian fauna, mammalian fauna and herptiles throughout his career and his work has been used to develop and set current provincial standards for inventory of several species.

Analytical Methods used with Non-Lethal Sample Collection
By Tim Crowther, Client Services Manager, ALS Environmental

Tim presented on analytical methods that ALS uses to test samples collected using non-lethal sampling methods for metals analysis. The non-lethal sampling methods include tissue plug or biopsy sampling of fish tissue and semi-permeable membrane devices. Tim further discussed the details on how to properly take a plug or biopsy sample, and the lab methods used to analyze the metals concentrations. The second portion of the presentation was around passive samplers with a focus on semipermeable membrane devices (SPMD), these samplers can be used to estimate bio-concentration factors for fish uptake of contaminants. He explained the mechanics of these samplers, and the lab methods used to analyze for pollutants such as PAHs, pesticides, PCBs, Dioxin & Furans, etc. Some advantages of this method is it is easier to use than fish, can be deployed for long periods at a time, and can be fixed so that you do not have the associated problems when sampling biota.  Slides of the presentation are available here.

Tim Crowther is a chartered analytical chemist with over 23 years’ experience in this field. He is currently responsible for the Client Services Group in Canada and co-manages the ALS Vancouver laboratory. Mr. Crowther volunteers on the BC Enhanced Water Quality Assurance (EWQA) steering committee, is the Chairman of the BC Chapter of the Canadian Council of Independent Laboratories for the Environmental/Life Sciences Division.