CPAWS-BC congratulates Saulteau and West Moberly Nations on hard-won caribou agreement

Provincial plan for caribou falls far below example set by First Nations leadership

21 March, 2019

Vancouver, BC Today, the provincial government opened public consultation on two agreements concerning the recovery of southern mountain caribou.

The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, BC Chapter (CPAWS-BC) is extending congratulations to the Saulteau and West Moberly Nations, whose leadership on caribou recovery has been highlighted in a Partnership Agreement between the two Nations, and the provincial and federal governments.

Photo credit: Wayne Sawchuk

Part of the Partnership Agreement between the four governments includes the creation of a large protected area in critical caribou habitat on West Moberly and Saulteau territories, near Chetwynd, BC.

“We fully support the groundbreaking work of the Saulteau and West Moberly Nations to recover caribou herds on their territories, and we applaud them for securing this agreement with both the provincial and federal governments,” said Bruce Passmore, CPAWS-BC Executive Director. “BC needs to learn from their leadership and work diligently to protect habitat for other caribou herds in the province.”

The other agreement announced today is a bilateral agreement between British Columbia and Canada, under Section 11 of the Species at Risk Act (SARA), which will apply to all other mountain caribou herds in the province. Unlike the Indigenous-led efforts proving successful at caribou recovery, this bilateral agreement is unlikely to recover caribou herds in BC, many of which are on the brink of extinction.

“Unlike the four Nation agreement, this bilateral agreement shows that the province is just not taking the wider provincial caribou crisis seriously,” continued Passmore. “West Moberly and Saulteau have shown us what’s possible for caribou recovery. BC needs to step up to the plate and do better in places like the Kootenays.”

Last year, Canada’s Minister of Environment declared an imminent threat to caribou recovery. Under the Species at Risk Ask, the federal minister can then issue an emergency protection order for the species.

“Caribou don’t have time for political grandstanding. If BC will not take bold action, then Canada has a legal responsibility to step in,” said Passmore. “Caribou need a moratorium on development in their habitat until governments can come up with an acceptable plan. We can not continue to discuss their future while their habitat continues to be destroyed.”

CPAWS-BC is encouraging the public to participate in both consultations until they close on April 26th, 2019.