Woodland caribou need urgent protection in Manitoba

Winnipeg – Time is running out for the Manitoba government to release 15 federally required habitat protection plans — one for each of the woodland caribou ranges in the province.

The caribou are protected as a threatened species under Canada’s Species At Risk Act, and the federal woodland caribou recovery strategy mandates provinces to produce range action plans to preserve at least 65 per cent of woodland caribou habitat by October 2017.

“The provinces have had five years to make plans to preserve caribou habitat, but Manitoba has failed to act,” said Eric Reder, Manitoba Campaign Director for the Wilderness Committee. “What’s really worrisome is in the new Manitoba government’s transition documents. They state that they will not meet the completion date required by federal law, but instead push action plans several years into the future.”

Woodland caribou are shy residents of Manitoba, spread sparsely across the province’s old-growth boreal forest, with an estimated population of only about 1,500 to 3,500 that has declined by roughly 50 percent in the last several decades. The species is very sensitive to disturbances, such as logging clearcuts, mining exploration roads and forest fires.

“The Manitoba government allowed the new Canadian Kraft Paper Industries to take over Tolko’s logging area without releasing action plans for the 10 caribou ranges that are affected,” said Reder. “This is a large lapse in caribou care.”

In 2011, the Manitoba government released two draft plans of the fifteen required. Over five years since then, they have yet to release the final version of those two plans, and have not submitted draft plans for any of the other caribou ranges.

Feature image: Wilderness Committee

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