FREDERICTON (GNB) – The provincial government is taking further steps to protect New Brunswick’s wildlife with the first determination regarding the status of a species at risk made by a committee of experts.

The Committee on the Status of Species at Risk classified the bank swallow (Riparia riparia), a small insectivorous songbird, as endangered in New Brunswick. This species was classified as threatened nationwide in 2013 by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada.

“Acknowledging the status of a species at risk is an important step in ensuring their protection,” said Natural Resources and Energy Development Minister Mike Holland. “Preserving our precious wildlife, such as the bank swallow, and their habitat for future generations is one of our main priorities.”

The committee is composed of a range of experts in science and Aboriginal traditional knowledge related to the conservation of wild species. Their role is to review status reports of species which may be at risk. After affirming that a report is adequate, they will then classify the species as extirpated, endangered, threatened, special concern, not at risk or data deficient.

“We take matters involving species at risk very seriously,” said Holland. “Nearly every day our department considers requirements relating to species at risk when reviewing applications for permits, development proposals and projects registered for environmental impact assessment. Projects are regularly amended for conditions placed on proponents out of an interest to protect species at risk.”

The committee uses the best available information to determine the biological status of a wildlife species including scientific, community, and Aboriginal traditional knowledge. Occasionally, the committee may be asked to provide input, advice and expertise on any matter relating to the biological assessment of species at risk in the province.

The department is currently pursing several initiatives which could improve conservation outcomes for species at risk. The Nature Legacy initiative aims to permanently conserve 10 per cent of the province’s land and freshwater with critical habitat for species at risk being an important focus. As well, the provincial and federal governments have recognized the Wolastoq / Saint John River valley as one of 11 Canadian Priority Places for multi-species and ecosystem-based action on species at risk.