Sunday, September 25, 2016

Why peregrine falcons should be de-listed from CITES

I have been trying to wrap my head around the recent decision by the Canadian government to call on CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) to de-list the peregrine falcon on the grounds that the species has made a robust and historic come-back and no longer needs protection.
It is certainly true that the species has made a remarkable recovery, at least here in Canada (I don't know about elsewhere in the world), partly as a result of the banning of DDT and partly as a result of the CITES ban on trade and trafficking. Indeed, it is not unusual now to spot the birds nesting in the high-rises of downtown Toronto.
But it seemed like tempting fate to completely remove the falcon from CITES list. After all, 228,000 adult birds may sound like a lot, but population numbers can swing very quickly and dramatically.
Apparently, the logic of the decision revolves around the idea that the CITES treaty can actually be strengthened by recognizing some success stories. It is argued that, if some countries in regions like Africa and Asia where endangered animal trafficking has escalated in recent years, see the restrictions being loosened on newly-healthy species, it would offer an incentive to hesitant officials and perhaps discourage some key nations from dropping out of the treaty.
So, Canada is encouraging the upcoming treaty meeting to agree to lift the trade ban on peregrines, as well as on the wood bison and the cougar, which have also seen major increases in their populations and species stability.
It may sound counter-intuitive, even risky, but I think I can now see where they are coming from.

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