An excavation company in Quebec has been penalized for violating the Species at Risk Act.
The company, Pete Persons Terre Sable & Gravier, was sentenced on February 18, 2021 in Granby Courthouse. The company was also fined a total of $15,000 after pleading guilty to two offences under the Species at Risk Act. The fine will go towards the Government of Canada’s Environmental Damages Fund.
Following the conviction, the company’s name was also added to the Environmental Offenders Registry, which contains information on convictions of corporations registered for offences committed under certain federal environmental laws.
Enforcement officers with the Environment and Climate Change Canada agency visited the Quebec quarries and sandpits of the company on June 05, 2019 to verify that the excavation complied with environmental laws. The officers discovered that there was a sandpit with three nesting sites of the bank swallow – two of which were active or in use.
Upon discovery of the nesting sites, the officers approached a heavy machinery operator working for Pete Persons Terre Sable & Gravier. The officers informed the operator of the presence of the swallows and the nesting sites, as well as the responsibility to ensure that the excavation did not interfere or destroy the nests.
However, a subsequent follow-up visit by the officers on July 31, 2019 found that two nesting sites – one of which was still confirmed active as of June 05 that year – had been destroyed with heavy machinery.
Under the Species at Risk Act, it is an offense to kill or harm a wildlife species that has been listed as extirpated, endangered, or threatened. It is also an offense to damage or destroy the residence of a listed species. A release from Environment and Climate Change Canada noted that the bank swallow was listed as a threatened species under the act on November 02, 2017.
Pete Persons Terre Sable & Gravier pleaded guilty on February 18, 2021 to two counts under the act for having destroyed nests of bank swallows, and in doing so, harming individuals of a species listed as threatened, and damaging or destroying the residence of individuals of a species listed under the act.