British Columbia: Mountain Caribou protection promises go unfulfilled

The Mountain Caribou Project — a coalition of about 10 environmental
organizations — says the protections are insufficient. The coalition
has issue, in part, because due to a mapping error, the government is
only protecting about 25,000 hectares of priority habitat in the
Cariboo Chilcotin instead of the original recommended 48,000.

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B.C.’s mountain caribou are the world’s southernmost population and
the only remaining population that lives in rugged, mountainous
terrain. All other similar populations that existed throughout the
world are now extinct.

Listed as threatened under the federal Species at Risk Act and red-listed as endangered or threatened in B.C., the mountain caribou in B.C. have declined from approximately 2,500 in 1995 to 1,900 or fewer in 12 herds today.

The plan is to restore the mountain caribou population to what it was prior to 1995 throughout their existing range in B.C. Regulation amendments to prevent snowmobile disturbances to mountain caribou and regulations to protect the animal from timber harvesting and road building disturbances are now in effect.

The recovery plan directed that certain actions be taken to protect the caribou, including:

• protecting 2.2 million hectares of mountain caribou range from
logging and road building, which would capture 95 per cent of the
caribou’s winter habitat and lead to an increase of about 380,000
hectares of protected forest within the mountain caribou range;

• managing human recreational activities in mountain caribou habitat
in a way that ensures critical habitat areas are effectively

• managing predator populations of wolf and cougar where they are
preventing the recovery of mountain caribou populations;

• managing the primary prey of caribou predators;

• boosting caribou numbers in threatened herds with animals
transplanted from elsewhere to ensure herds achieve critical mass for

• supporting adaptive management and research, and implementing
effective monitoring plans for habitat, recreation and predator-prey
management; and

• instituting a cross-sector progress board to monitor the
effectiveness of recovery actions.

But the Caribou Mountain Project says protections against mineral
exploration development, snowmobiling and heli-skiing in critical
habitat are still outstanding, risking the caribou’s future recovery.

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Comments (1)

KennethAugust 24th, 2009 at 1:25 pm

I would like to advise you that Whitewater Ski Resort is applying for an exemption application so that they may developement into the Qua Basin – presently protected caribou habitat. If you can pressure MOE at this time it might make a difference.
As a Whitewater employee I must maintain anonymity, I ask that you please respect this.

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