Why Care?

Why Should You Care?

You should care because all life forms have an inherent right to life. Some people may argue that humans have the inalienable right to determine which species live or die, which species are useful and which are unnecessary. However, humans are but one species, which at present seem to be a controlling force. We definitely do have the technology and means of destroying vast tracks of nature.

Back in 1953, Aldo Leopold wrote the following:

“The outstanding scientific discovery of the twentieth century is not television, or radio, but rather the complexity of the land organism. Only those who know the most about it can appreciate how little is known about it. The last word in ignorance is the man who says of an animal or plant: ‘What good is it?’ If the land mechanism as a whole is good, then every part is good, whether we understand it or not. If the biota, in the course of aeons, has built something we like but do not understand, then who but a fool would discard seemingly useless parts? To keep every cog and wheel is the first precaution of intelligent tinkering.”

It really comes down to biodiversity. The United Nations declared the year 2010 as the International Year of Biodiversity. This follows the 1992 United Nations Convention on the Conservation of Biological Diversity which Canada, as well as many nations around the world, signed. This was a commitment by the government and people of Canada to help preserve the Earth’s variety of life. Both SARA and the National Parks Act are just means to ensure that the people of Canada live up to their international commitments.

The preamble to the Canadian Species at Risk Act emphasizes the commitment to biodiversity: “the Government of Canada is committed to conserving biological diversity”. Further, SARA specifically states that “Canada’s protected areas, especially national parks, are vital to the protection and recovery of species at risk”. Because the Banff Springs Snail is found only within Banff National Park, the full complement of provisions for species protection and recovery within SARA are automatically applicable to the snail. This is in addition to provisions under the National Parks Act that protect species within national parks. The National Parks Act also mandates Parks Canada to restore or maintain ecological integrity.

Up to February 2011, the Banff Springs Snail was the only species in Canada for which all the steps required for the recovery of a SARA listed species had been completed: the Recovery Strategy and an Action Plan were approved by the Government of Canada in 2007. In addition, Critical Habitat – “habitat that is necessary for the survival or recovery of a listed wildlife species” – has been delineated and established in law. In February 2011, the Recovery Strategy and Action Plan for Bolander’s Quillwort (Isoetes bolanderi), a fern-like plant confined in Canada to a few small lakes and ponds in Waterton Lakes National Park, became the second SARA listed species to have full protection under SARA.

Therefore, another reason why people should care about the Banff Springs Snail is because it is the law – under both the National Parks Act and the Species at Risk Act – to protect the snail and its habitat.

Banff Springs Snails on fallen leaves at a thermal spring origin pool, Cave and Basin National Historic Site.

Banff Springs Snails on fallen leaves at a thermal spring origin pool, Cave and Basin National Historic Site.