A Foothills group is taking the Federal Government to court for not following their own rules for a threatened trout species here in Southern Alberta.

Dave Mayhood is the President of the Timberwolf Wilderness Society and he says they've launched a lawsuit against the Feds to force them to protect the habitat of native cutthroat trout along the eastern slopes.

Mayhood says it's about the only way to get any action out of Ottawa.

"That's certainly true with respect to the Species at Risk Act. They habitually ignore statutory requirements. And it's not just for this species, but for the great majority of them."

In the end they want the government to enforce their own rules and release a long overdue action plan to recover the population of westslope cutthroat trout.

In a release, Mayhood and the Society explain their reasoning behind the action.

Once widespread, abundant, and a mainstay of southwestern Alberta’s sport fishery, the native form of westslope cutthroat trout has declined severely.

It is now restricted mainly to a few small, isolated headwaters.

It has been listed as Threatened under SARA since 2013.

A recovery strategy was issued in 2014, which was supposed to be followed by an action plan by the end of March 2015.

Despite several missed deadlines, repeated warnings that many individual remaining populations are at grave risk, and that one crucially important stock had already gone extinct, the Minister has kept his draft action plan under wraps.

“Most remaining populations are at severe risk. One has been driven extinct since 2015. Others are in decline. Several have had critical habitat destroyed by logging roads, off-highway vehicle trails, inadequate culverts and drought. Two are under threat from the proposed Grassy Mountain Mine. Long-term chances of survival for three-quarters of remaining populations is less than a coin toss.”

Dave Mayhood, M.Sc, Aquatic Ecologist & President, Timberwolf Wilderness Society.

gold creek lower valley feb12 2019 001The valley of Gold Creek holds substantial critical habitat for a SARA-listed population of westslope cutthroat trout, most of it unprotected under SARA. Seen here in two views from the top of Grassy Mountain’s unreclaimed minesite on 11 September 2015, much of the existing designated and undesignated critical habitat will be damaged or destroyed by a proposed new open pit coal mine here: much of the lower slopes will be filled with waste rock. All of this critical habitat needs protection in the action plan, but the mine is likely to be approved without that plan being released.

gold creek upper valley feb12 2019 001The upper Gold Creek Valley.

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