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'Province has done astonishingly little': Environmental groups urges federal government to protect Ontario caribou

Nov 15, 2018 04:33PM ● By Editor
The boreal caribou is on the provincial and federal Species at Risk list, according to Rachel Plotkin, a wildlife advocate with the David Suzuki Foundation. (Parks Canada)

From CBC News · November 15, 2018

Three environmental groups are calling on the federal government to help protect the boreal caribou in northern Ontario as they believe "the province has done an astonishingly little amount" to protect and recover the declining caribou population.

"The primary driver of caribou decline is disturbance in their habitat," Rachel Plotkin, a wildlife advocate with the David Suzuki Foundation, told CBC News on Wednesday, "and the policy and business operations planning process in Ontario is such that it allows industrial activities to just keep on incurring into intact habitats that we know that caribou need."

She said the three groups issued a petition earlier this week, urging the Minister of Environment and Climate Change Canada to recommend a "safety net order" under the Species at Risk Act, which came into force in 2004.

"Our organizations have worked with the province trying to ensure that it puts into place some caribou habitat protection measures [and] for years and years we've been at numerous stakeholder tables." Plotkin explained, adding that the federal government's recovery strategy to  "maintain or restore at least 65 per cent of each caribou range in undisturbed habitat," has been "ignored by the province."

Plotkin said they are asking the federal government to protect the boreal caribou in the interim until the province applies the science to "manage caribou habitat for their survival and recovery."

"If our objective is to maintain the healthy ecosystems that support caribou, then the status quo policy regime, the status quo forest management planning, the status quo looking at cumulative effects is not doing any of the things that the federal government recommended to restore and recover caribou," Plotkin said.

The boreal caribou is listed on both the provincial and federal Species at Risk list.

"If we want to have a future that has caribou in it, then we need to operate within the limits that we know that caribou need to have to survive," Plotkin added. "If we exceed those limits then we're going to lose caribou and other wildlife populations."

Plotkin said the three groups will wait 90 days for a response back.

To see the original article and read related stories, follow this link to the CBC News website.

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