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Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations

Wildlife in B.C.

The British Columbia Wildlife Act defines wildlife as all native and some non-native amphibians, reptiles, birds, mammals that live in B.C. For some provisions of the Act, the definition includes fish, and other B.C. legislation defines some insects and plants as wildlife.

B.C. is home to more than 1138 species of vertebrates, including 488 bird species, 142 mammal species, 18 reptile species, 22 amphibian species, 83 freshwater fish species and 368 saltwater fish species.

152 wildlife species and sub-species are considered candidates for endangered, threatened, or vulnerable status. Three of these are legally designated (by the provincial government) as endangered in B.C.: the Burrowing Owl, and the American White Pelican and the Vancouver Island Marmot. The Sea Otter is designated as Threatened. Other species are under consideration for listing.

Management of wildlife in Canada is shared by the federal, provincial, and territorial governments. Federal responsibility includes protection and management of migratory birds as well as nationally significant wildlife habitat, and responsibilities for endangered species, control of international trade in endangered species, research on wildlife issues of national importance, and international wildlife treaties and issues.

For the most part, provincial and territorial wildlife agencies are responsible for all other wildlife matters. These include conservation and management of wildlife populations and habitat within their borders, issuing licences and permits for fishing, game hunting, and trapping, guidelines for safe angling and trapping and outfitting policies.

The Ecosystems Branch is responsible for biodiversity science, standards and policy for the Ministry, and is responsible for the preparation of a biodiversity strategy for British Columbia. Important aspects of this work include the development of more specific strategies on living rivers and species at risk. The Branch develops legislation, regulations, standards and guidelines to protect natural diversity. It also manages the acquisition and application of science-based information and knowledge for aquatic and terrestrial habitats and species. The Branch establishes protocols and performance measures for monitoring and reporting on the state of provincial biodiversity and the effectiveness of activities being used to sustain it.