Notice of permit

Regional or Local Number: SARA-PYR-2017-0394

Notice is hereby given that pursuant to the provisions of section 73 of the Species at Risk Act permit no. SARA-PYR-2017-0394 is issued.

Purpose:
Activity necessary or beneficial to the species
Affecting the species is incidental to the carrying out of the activity

Description:
This permit authorizes representatives of the Department of National Defense, Vernon Military Camp, British Columbia to incidentally harm or potentially kill individuals of Great Basin Spadefoot, Great Basin Gophersnake, and American Badger while conducting invasive plant management activities to maintain and restore proposed critical habitat biophysical attributes. The objective of the activity is to reduce abundance and distribution of several invasive alien plants through a combination of spot applied chemical herbicides, or hand-pulling restricted within environmentally sensitive areas. This activity should improve foraging and thermoregulation conditions for the three species at risk. Environmentally sensitive areas include wetlands and clusters of known residences that have been occupied by Great Basin Spadefoot, Great Basin Gophersnake, and American Badger. Risks of acute and chronic toxic effects on Spadefoots have been minimized by selecting a low-toxicity herbicide, and avoiding chemical application near wetlands or under conditions where drift or runoff may transport chemicals to wetlands. Risks of damage to residences below ground are negligible as measures will be taken to minimize and avoid soil disturbance, and compaction is unlikely to occur from foot traffic and low speed ATVs outside of sensitive areas. Risks of trampling species at risk with ATVs are minimized by avoiding sensitive areas, and travelling slow enough for animals to escape or for operators to see them and actively avoid them. Day-time work under sunny conditions also minimizes the chances of direct contact and impacts to individuals of Spadefoot or American Badger.

Start Date: 2017-07-31   End Date: 2020-10-01

Issuing Authority: Environment Canada

Authority Used:

  • Species at Risk Act

Location of Activity (province, territory or ocean):

  • British Columbia

Affected Species:

Pre-Conditions:
a) All reasonable alternatives to the activities that would reduce the impact on the species have been considered and the best solutions have been adopted. Not managing the invasive weeds could lead to loss of critical habitat biophysical attributes in the plant community, with a transition from perennial bunchgrass and sagebrush to annual grasses and broadleaf weeds. This is a compositional and structural shift that may reduce foraging opportunities for prey species important to Great Basin Gophersnake, Great Basin Spadefoot, and American Badger. Biocontrols for the target species are not currently viable at this location due to climate and host plant limitations in the surrounding area to sustain populations of biocontrol insects. Hand-pulling and cutting has been used in previous years and will continue to be used adjacent to wetlands. At a large scale hand-pulling has not been effective because regrowth from roots is more rapid than hand-pullers can keep up with. By limiting hand-pulling to the wetland buffers and known residences that technique can be more efficiently repeated and effective in halting spread. Further, unexploded ordinance in the soil on this military training area pre-empts any safe way of digging in the soil to uproot and remove weeds. This leaves chemical treatments with low animal-toxicity formulations and application timing, paired with manual removal in identified sensitive areas, as the best alternative. b) All feasible measures will be taken to minimize the impact of activities on the species. Spot application is used to ensure herbicides are not unnecessarily applied in natural habitats, and impact non-target species. Licensed herbicide applicators will be used. Mapping of buffers around wetlands and residences has already been completed by DND biologists. Buffers to exclude chemical herbicide application in proximity to wetlands and around known residences of Species At Risk or other sensitive sites helps minimize non-target effects on Spadefoot (acute exposure through skin; chronic exposure through ingestion of aquatic invertebrates). A low-toxicity picloram-based herbicide, Tordon 22k, will be used to minimize effects of direct exposure to any Spadefoots traversing uplands outside of the buffer zones. Application will be limited to spots where invasive plants occur, and during day-time, dry, sunny and windless conditions to minimize drift and maximize biodegradation of any herbicide contacting the soil. Amphibians in uplands are normally mobile at night only, so small vehicles (ATV) and foot traffic to apply herbicides and undertake hand-pulling should avoid individuals completely. By not digging in the soil, and using spot application from back-pack sprayers and ATV-mounted sprayer units soil compaction that might damage a residence of a Gophersnake, Spadefoot, or Badger will be minimized. All work will continue to be supervised and reported upon by DND biologists familiar with the Species At Risk and the invasive plants. c) The activities will not jeopardize the survival or recovery of the species. The work is part of on-going integrated pest management on the Vernon Military Camp and in the surrounding Regional District of North Okanagan, following the BC Parks Best Management Practices for managing invasive species. The intent of the control program is to maintain or restore natural vegetation and thus maintain or restore the biophysical attributes of proposed critical habitat for multiple species. Habitat loss and degradation are threats to Great Basin Gophersnake, Great Basin Spadefoot, and American Badger. Invasive plants that reduce native perennial bunchgrasses and shrubs have potential to alter or decrease the abundance of insects and small mammals upon which the Gophersnake, Spadefoot, and Badger feed. High-densities of annual weeds may also present dispersal barriers or obstacles to Spadefoots, and alter thermal properties of the habitat important to Gophersnakes. Maintenance and restoration of the proposed critical habitat contribute to survival and potential increases in populations of Great Basin Spadefoot. In light of severe habitat loss and highway mortality of Gophersnakes and American Badger outside the project area boundaries, this project contributes to maintaining a stable refuge that may be a source of individuals for repopulating other critical habitats in future.

Contact Person(s)
Permit Section
Canadian Wildlife Service
Delta, British Columbia
Phone: (604) 940-4650
Fax: (604) 946-7022
E-mail: sarapermitting.pyr@ec.gc.ca