Débroussaillage Québec and Forestière des Amériques Inc. were recently each fined $20,000—for a total of $40,000—at the Longueuil, Quebec courthouse. Each company pleaded guilty to one count of violating the Emergency Order for the Protection of the Western Chorus Frog (the Emergency Order) in contravention of the Species at Risk Act. The companies pleaded guilty to the charge of carrying out a prohibited activity, namely pruning vegetation— including trees, shrubs, and bushes—in a sensitive area.
On April 23 and 24, 2018, employees of Forestière des Amériques Inc., whose services were retained by Débroussaillage Québec, carried out vegetation-cutting work under high-voltage power lines. The work was done in the enforcement area of the Emergency Order for the Protection of the Western Chorus Frog (Great Lakes / St. Lawrence — Canadian Shield Population) in the municipality of La Prairie, near Montréal.
Vegetation-cutting work in the enforcement area of the Emergency Order requires a permit under the Species at Risk Act. Neither Débroussaillage Québec nor Forestière des Amériques Inc. had a permit authorizing the brush-clearing activities. The Act prohibits killing or harming a wildlife species that is listed as threatened and damaging or destroying the habitat of these species. The Emergency Order prohibits removing, pruning, damaging, or destroying any vegetation such as trees, shrubs, or plants.
Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Enforcement Branch makes considerable efforts to ensure the protection of wildlife species and their habitat is observed by businesses and individuals. They encourage people to report any wildlife-related illegal acts that they witness to the National Environmental Emergencies Centre by calling 514-283-2333 or 1-866-283-2333 or by contacting Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS) to anonymously report crimes related to wildlife species.
- In Canada, the western chorus frog is found in southern Ontario and in the Montérégie and Outaouais regions of Quebec. The species is divided into two populations. The Carolinian population, in southwestern Ontario, is not at risk. The second population—the Great Lakes, St. Lawrence, and the Canadian Shield population—includes individuals from other regions of Ontario and from Quebec. Since 2010, this population has been listed as threatened in Schedule 1 of the Species at Risk Act.
- Western chorus frog populations have undergone serious declines in both Quebec and Ontario. Habitat loss and degradation are the main threats to the species. In Quebec, in the Montérégie region, a decrease of over 90 percent in the species’ historical range was noted in 2009, while in the Outaouais region, over 30 percent of inhabited sites have disappeared since 1993.
- Habitat destruction in suburban areas of southwestern Quebec is happening so quickly that populations may disappear from these areas by 2030. In these regions, the main threats to western chorus frog habitat are rapid residential and industrial development and agricultural intensification, such as the conversion of pastureland to grain crops. Many breeding sites in agricultural areas are also at risk of being contaminated by pesticides or fertilizers.
- The area covered by the Emergency Order consists of approximately 2 km2 of partially developed land in the municipalities of La Prairie, Candiac, and Saint-Philippe, on the outskirts of Montréal, Quebec. The main purpose of the Emergency Order is to prevent the loss or degradation of the habitat that the western chorus frog needs to grow and reproduce.