GRANBY, QUE. — A Quebec excavation firm that destroyed swallows’ nests has been convicted and fined for violating the Species at Risk Act.
Pete Persons Terre Sable and Gravier Inc. was sentenced and fined a total of $15,000 in a Granby, Que. court after pleading guilty to two offences under the act on Feb. 18.
A statement from Environment and Climate Change Canada recounted that on June 5, 2019, ECCC wildlife enforcement officers visited quarries and sandpits in the Estrie region of Quebec to carry out inspections to verify compliance with the Species at Risk Act and to carry out public education and outreach concerning bank swallows.
During the inspections, officers discovered a sandpit containing three bank swallow nesting sites, two of which were active or in use. Officers met a heavy machinery operator working for the company and informed him of the presence of the swallows and the nesting sites, as well as the responsibility to ensure that work activities did not disturb the birds or their nests.
On a subsequent follow-up visit on July 31, 2019, officers discovered that two nesting sites, one of which was active on June 5, had been destroyed with heavy machinery.
It is an offence under the Species at Risk Act to kill or harm a wildlife species listed as extirpated, endangered or threatened or to damage or destroy the residence of a listed species. The bank swallow was listed as a threatened species under the act on Nov. 2, 2017. Bank swallow populations in Canada have declined by 98 per cent in the last 40 years.
The company pleaded guilty to two counts under the act for having destroyed nests of bank swallows, and in doing so, harming individuals of a wildlife species that is listed as threatened, and damaging or destroying the residence of one or more individuals of a wildlife species that is listed as threatened.
As a result of the conviction, the company’s name will be added to the Environmental Offenders Registry. The registry contains information on convictions of corporations registered for offences committed under certain federal environmental laws.
The fine will be directed to the Government of Canada’s Environmental Damages Fund.