New report indicates BC government not doing enough to protect caribou in South Peace region

Vancouver, BC – A new report on the protection of Southern Mountain Caribou in B.C. (Central Group populations) suggests that not enough is being done to protect these threatened caribou populations and help them recover in the long term. This report will be used to help determine whether additional actions need to be taken in order to meet recovery objectives for these caribou under the federal Species at Risk Act.

The majority of the herds assessed in the report have been declining steadily for decades, and long-term population estimates predict that even the sub-populations that are currently stable will eventually begin to decline. The report notes that the ultimate cause for the decline of these threatened herds is habitat loss and fragmentation.

“Addressing this issue needs to be made an absolute, unequivocal priority if we intend to recover these caribou populations before they disappear from the landscape forever. There’s a disproportionate amount of money and effort being spent on reactive measures like predator control, and nowhere near enough focus on proactive measures to reduce habitat disturbance, which is the real root of the problem,” says Jessie Corey, CPAWS-BC’s Terrestrial Conservation Manager.

“In the last 10 years, for example, the province has spent $168,000 on habitat management actions for these caribou, compared to over $3 million spent on actions related to predator and alternate prey management,” says Corey.

The federal recovery strategy sets the maximum threshold for the disturbance of critical habitat at 35 per cent. The caribou ranges assessed in the new report have all exceeded this disturbance limit, and without action plans currently in place for any of them, it is unclear how the province intends to meet this requirement.

The report shows that a significant amount of habitat within these ranges has no protection in place or legally enforceable restrictions on industrial activity into caribou habitat. The report also identifies instances where the province has provided exemptions to the law or has issued authorizations for certain industrial activities that would otherwise be prohibited within areas that have some form of protection in place.

“We’ve recommended in the past that the province consider suspending industrial activity in at least some of these ranges until we can say with certainty that further development won’t impact the likelihood of survival for these herds. Instead, what we’re seeing is that not only is there not enough legal protection in place to help these caribou but that even where there are those legal protections in place, industry is being given the green light to go into those places anyways,” says Corey.

CPAWS-BC strongly urges the provincial and federal governments to avoid any further delays in taking immediate and concrete action to protect these dwindling caribou populations.

“The window of opportunity to take action to recover these herds is getting smaller the longer we wait, and if we’re not more proactive in how we approach caribou recovery for these Southern Mountain herds, it will slam shut entirely before we know it,” adds Corey.


For interviews, contact:

Jessie Corey, Terrestrial Conservation Manager, CPAWS-BC
604-685-7445 ext 25 |

To read the full report, click here: