October 17, 2007 (Ottawa) Nature Canada and BC Nature today congratulated the British Columbia government on its announcement that it will make nearly 400,000 hectares of forest off-limits to logging and road building in an effort to protect the Mountain Caribou.
Mountain Caribou numbers have declined rapidly in the past decade. Some studies estimate that there are between 1,650 and 1,900 individuals left in the wild. Mountain Caribou have been extirpated from 43 percent of their historic range in British Columbia. The province now lists the species as endangered.
Agriculture and Lands Minister Pat Bell made the announcement October 16.
“This Mountain Caribou Recovery Implementation Plan is a really positive step towards habitat protection” said Bev Ramey, President of BC Nature. “We are also pleased to see the commitment to better manage motorized recreation in important Mountain Caribou habitat, with guidance from the Science Team. Many important details still need to be resolved in local implementation plans and so it is excellent that conservation groups will be part of local implementation planning.”
Mountain Caribou is the common name given to an ecotype of Woodland Caribou (Rangifer tarandus caribou). In Canada, the Mountain Caribou is found in the Interior Temperate Rainforest (Interior Wet Belt) of the southeastern through central mountains of BC. A few caribou also still exist across the border in Idaho, United States.
“We are thrilled the British Columbia government has recognized the importance of habitat protection,” said Julie Gelfand, President of Nature Canada. “It has given me renewed hope that endangered species may retain the habitat they need to survive.”
The area that will be receiving new protection will be included within 2.2 million hectares of specially managed caribou range that includes old-growth cedar, pine and spruce forests.
The BC government has been working on a recovery strategy for Mountain Caribou for years. However, the draft plan released last year fell short of what the government’s own Mountain Caribou science team said would be necessary to restore herds to self-sustaining status. It did not adequately address the key threats to the species’ survival. The new Implementation Plan includes upgrading the Recovery Objectives for four of the planning areas.
Nature Canada is a non-profit national organization dedicated to protecting nature, its diversity, and the processes that sustain it. Our network includes 40,000 individual supporters and more than 350 naturalist organizations operating at the local, regional and provincial levels.
BC Nature is the provincial organization representing 50 natural history clubs throughout BC and promotes nature education and conservation.
For more information please contact:
(613) 562-3447 ext. 231
BC Nature Education Chair