• Published on Dec 16 2014 |
  • This article is tagged as: boreal-caribou



Embargoed until December 16, 2014

BC’s caribou under growing threat: CPAWS’ annual report

Vancouver, B.C. -- In its second annual review of governments' efforts to conserve Canada's boreal caribou, the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) finds that threats from industrial development to boreal woodland caribou have continued to increase while conservation and restoration efforts have shown little progress across the country.

In B.C., CPAWS is particularly concerned about the caribou of northeastern B.C., where more than 75% of their range is assigned to oil and gas development. B.C. is actively promoting the development of its gas resources in pursuit of exporting liquefied natural gas (LNG).The biggest threat to the caribou’s survival is habitat fragmentation, which increases access by predators. Scientists consider caribou as bellwethers of the health of the boreal forest, which also cleanses our air and water, and stores vast amounts of carbon within its soils, moderating climate change.

In other parts of the country, CPAWS found examples of threats growing within vital caribou habitat, including the approval of a mine in one of Manitoba’s provincial parks; a peat harvesting project is advancing in Saskatchewan; and the approval of about 5,000 km2 of additional oil and gas leases in Alberta in the past two years. The 2012 release of the Federal Recovery Strategy for boreal caribou under the Species-at-Risk Act outlined the critical need for conservation and restoration measures in vital caribou habitat across Canada, and called for provinces and territories to complete conservation plans by 2017. As of this fall, CPAWS found that only six of the 51 required plans were in development, with none completed so far that meet the federal government’s requirements.

“B.C. has made no measurable progress towards producing range plans for any of its boreal caribou herds, even though this is a red-listed species in some of the most disturbed ranges in Canada,” says Peter Wood, Director of Terrestrial Conservation, CPAWS-BC. “The Province’s management plan for the species basically writes off two of the six herds to extirpation, in favor of oil and gas development.”

CPAWS found that only one province and one territory implemented concrete measures in the past 12 months that will protect boreal woodland caribou. Manitoba created a new park protecting about 1,000 km2 of habitat, and the Northwest Territories listed boreal caribou as threatened under its new species-at-risk legislation. Quebec and Newfoundland cut back staff allocated to caribou planning.

In the meantime, on December 1st the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) issued a notice that Canada’s entire boreal woodland caribou population is declining because “much of its habitat has been degraded … especially in the southern part of its range.” It cited cumulative impacts of industrial activity as the chief reason, and also for the first time listed the Newfoundland island caribou population as of “special concern” due to its dramatic drop in numbers since the 1990s.

“In light of these findings, we urge immediate action by BC to implement boreal caribou habitat conservation and restoration measures while the longer-term range plans required under the Species-at-risk Act are being put in place,” adds Wood. “All six remaining herds can be saved, but only if the Province is willing to put the caribou’s interests first.”


View full report at:



View CPAWS-BC’s recent report on LNG impact on BC wilderness:

For interviews, contact:

Peter Wood

Office: 604 685 7445 ext 22

Cell: 604 761 3075