Mar 3, 2013 / 7:05 am
The bird has the voice of R2-D2 from "Star Wars," but for land developers and farmers across Ontario, its call heralds the sound of an uncertain future.
The bobolink, a medium-sized black songbird with a white back and yellow collar, is creating friction between the Ontario government and the owners of the grasslands and hayfields it calls home.
Its status as one of 56 threatened species in Ontario, primarily caused by loss of habitat through development and farming, means it is protected under the law. But the bird's legal status is causing lengthy delays for land developers and can force farmers to avoid growing the crops the bobolink nests in.
"It's a big problem," says Leith Moore, president of the Ontario Home Builders' Association. "The bobolink has become kind of a symbol for our current issues with the amendments to the Endangered Species Act."
The legislation, which was introduced in 2007 to identify and protect vulnerable species, included the bobolink three years ago after its population dipped from about 1.5 million in the late 1990s to 800,000 in 2008.
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