Caribou is a symbol of wilderness in British Columbia and across
Canada; Caribou is on our quarter, and are far more sensitive to the
effects of people than other species such as burrowing owls, grizzly
bears, and orcas. We likely know more about Caribou than any other
wildlife species in Canada. British Columbia has been investing in
caribou research and recovery for decades, yet most populations continue
their downward slide to extinction. Caribou is a symptom of a more
significant problem: an intentional long-term defunding and dismantling
of natural resource management in British Columbia and across Canada
principally due to a lack of political will to adequately conserve and
manage our natural resources.
While the most recent government report indicates three extinct
populations, it is likely that the Columbia South, South Selkirks,
George Mountain, Central Purcells, Kinbasket, and Central Monashees are
extinct or functionally extinct as well. There are glimmers of hope in
the Columbia North and Klinze-za populations where management levers are
exercised. In most of Central and Southern B.C., we are in a crisis.
Caribou recovery, wildlife management, and natural resource management
have been chronically under-funded for decades. Without funding, the
science which managers and elected officials need to make sound
decisions often is not available. Wildlife does not exist on four-year
election cycles and should not be a passing thought in the budgeting
Recommendation: All who use and benefit from our natural resources to
give back to conservation, including but not limited to;
hydro-electrical development, heli-skiing, ski hills, logging, mining,
oil & gas, ecotourism, hunters, anglers, naturalists. Natural
resource conservation funding should be based on a pay to play approach
which increases legitimacy and provides stable, predictable, long-term
Funding should be placed at arm’s length from government to increase
transparency, public confidence, and the ability to leverage funding.
|Photograph by: Handout , Mike Jones for Canadian Boreal Initiative|
Academics and some government researchers, most of which have retired
or will retire shortly, are at the leading edge of caribou ecology and
recovery. Due to under-investment, cutbacks, retirement and attrition
government is losing capacity and expertise to carry-out long-term
research required to conserve caribou effectively.
The BCWF is extremely concerned since last year’s funding announcement
that the province has excluded the top caribou ecologists from meetings,
and failed to engage researchers on study designs for management,
monitoring, and recovery. Significant expertise is available, and
research is being conducted at the University of Alberta as well as
University of Northern British Columbia, and University of Montana which
should be a focal component of caribou recovery.
Recommendation: Caribou research should be funded and housed in an
academic institution, or cooperative wildlife unit, which would minimize
big"P" politics and provide focus and the rigour required to inform and
guide science-based decisions.
The status quo approach is "fly when you have money," which is not
meaningful for caribou or other wildlife species. It will not restore
caribou populations by confirming that there is fewer caribou than the
last inventory flight restore caribou populations.
Recommendation: Monitoring should occur via stratified random block
surveys every five years. Between collaring, camera trapping, citizen
science, and aerial inventory work there may be more efficient and
cost-effective means to monitor caribou populations. The results of
inventory need to inform an adaptive approach to landscape-level
There are currently no meaningful objectives for mountain caribou.
Aggregated or long-term objectives, without short-term objectives, will
fail the test of time. While the government has indicated recovering
all caribou herds may not be feasible, the critical habitat provision in
SARA exists even after caribou populations have become extirpated.
Recommendation: There should be legislated objectives for all Mountain
Caribou populations, as well as legislated objectives for habitat, and
all other species to ensure caribou recovery is successful and those
involved are accountable to the process each other, and caribou.
The BCWF recognizes habitat restoration, access management, predator
management, maternal penning, supplemental feeding, and management of
over-abundant prey species, as legitimate management tools. The BCWF
does not support using these tools in isolation, or when they are
politically, or socially convenient.
|Photo courtesy of CBC|
The BCWF recognizes neonate mortality is high and that maternal penning
has proven somewhat effective in combination with other management
tools. The BCWF acknowledges this as an interim step but is not highly
supportive of using this over the long run because of cost, a lack of
scalability, animal health-related concerns and de-wilding of wildlife.
Given those concerns, the BCWF is not supportive of captive breeding
and this time.
The BCWF recognizes that supplemental feeding is part of maternal
penning and supports it as an interim measure for small populations.
With legislated objectives for habitat and wildlife populations comes
management of all species. The BCWF supports managing habitat and
wildlife by setting objectives and following them, using hunting as a
legitimate wildlife management tool.
The BCWF notes that caribou population declines and extinctions have
occurred both inside and outside Provincial and Federal Parks and
protected areas for a myriad of reasons which are often correlated to
people and industrial development as ultimate causes, with proximate
causes related to predation. While controversial, predator management
is a legitimate tool to ensure the perpetuation and support recovery of
Recommendation: The Federal government's guideline wolf density target
is 3/1000 km2 for Southern caribou populations. Site-specific wolf
management has proven to be ineffective; it must be meaningful for
caribou and applied at the landscape level.
Recommendation: B.C. needs to set a vision for what its landscapes
should look like in five decades, including caribou recovery zones.
Land use should include private lands, and private land acquisition and
Recommendation: The environmental assessment process needs:
1) A commitment to scientific integrity
2) Mitigation measures which are ground-truthed, and monitored
3) Cumulative effects must be applied spatially and across all industries and uses
4) Information must be transparent, public and permanent
British Columbia’s wilderness is crisscrossed with resource extraction
roads and other linear features such as seismic lines. The most
commonly cited threshold for wildlife is 0.6 km/km2; nearly all of
southern B.C. exceeds this threshold. Caribou is more susceptible to
roads and linear features than most other wildlife populations.
A threshold for landscape-level management and caribou recovery should
be legislated. Linear features (logging roads, seismic lines) should be
decommissioned as part of licensees’ obligations to ensure these
targets are met.
The BCWF recognizes changes to commercial and recreational use will
likely need to be adjusted over time. The BCWF supports limiting and
modifying commercial and non-resident use before that of British
Currently, there are numerous ‘voluntary' guidelines, which may not be
sufficient to manage the impacts of resource extraction and recreational
use properly. There must be research on the effects of eco-tourism,
heli-skiing, and cat skiing. Enforcement of snowmobile closures and the
associated penalties have not been sufficient.
Recommendation: The BCWF would like to see increased oversight,
enforcement and monitoring of all industries provincially, including
those in caribou recovery zones. Oversight would be conducted through a
Natural Resources Practices Board to evaluate practices and serve as an
independent watchdog for natural resource management in B.C.
Recommendation: The BCWF recommends legislated commitments around
staffing and budgeting through the Conservation Officer Service. All
fines resulting from infractions in Caribou recovery zones should go
back to landscape-level management in the area where the violation
The BCWF supports increased communication and the incorporation of
modern web-based tools to report. The BCWF is disappointed in the
current consultative process which provides no substance or legitimacy
to respondents’ comments. Public consultation should be qualified, and
transparent. The current process delegitimizes public consultation,
integrity, legitimacy, and accountability of the process.
Government’s historic top-down, divisive and authoritative approach
creates and leaves caribou recovery subject to the elected regulatory
The BCWF would like to see a
roundtable approach, similar to the current Mountain Caribou Recovery
Implementation Plan where legitimate interests are represented. A
roundtable would include First Nations, NGOs, experts, scientists, the
public sector, and industry. Represented interests should be
B.C.-based, be provincial in nature and non-governmental organizations
should be involved in on-the-ground conservation and stewardship
projects. The roundtable would add to the legitimacy of the process,
and minimize free-riding, mistrust, and instability. The BCWF would
also like to see a non-partisan MLA committee formed included in this
The BC Wildlife Federation is excited that this review is occurring and
that there has been a short-term commitment to funding. For caribou to
continue to exist in B.C., we will have to do things differently. In
the short-term, we need to stop the bleeding by reducing mortality of
caribou by wolves and cougars, access, and the loss of large intact
blocks of habitat until the habitat becomes caribou friendly. In the
long-term, we need to decommission roads, seismic lines, trails, cut
blocks, other activities (heli-skiing, cat-skiing, snowmobiling), and
If we are to recover caribou, and wildlife broadly, B.C. has to
change its approach: we need a new model which is adequately funded,
has legislated objectives and which puts wildlife first.
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ACT NOW! encourage others to give their feedback to the BC Government on Caribou recovery before June 15th at 4 pm!
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Example of Letter:
Your Address Here
Your Address Here
June xx, 2018
Your MLA's Name and
Re: BC Caribou Recovery
I am writing to you today to request that you put more funding and effort into the recovery of BC’s Caribou.
Caribouare a symbol of wilderness in British Columbia and across
Canada. Yet, caribou recovery, along with wildlife management, and
natural resource management, have been under-funded for decades.
I believe more funding should be allocated to wildlife management, so
more effort can be put into collecting data and setting legislated
objectives for all mountain caribou populations, as well as a legislated
objective for habitat, and all other species.
To provide more funding, I suggest all who use and benefit from our
natural resources should give back to conservation, including but not
limited to; hydro-electrical development, heli-skiing, logging, mining,
oil & gas, ecotourism, hunters, and anglers.
If we are to recover caribou, and wildlife broadly, B.C. must change
its approach. We can no longer manage our wildlife to zero. We need a
new model which is adequately funded, has legislated objectives and
which puts wildlife first.
Thank you for your consideration in this matter.
Insert your name here
CC: Right Hon. Justin Trudeau
80 Wellington Street
Ottawa, ON, K1A 0A2
Insert name of your MP
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON, K1A 0A6