Caribou Conservation Plan Fails to Protect Woodland Caribou

Photo: CPAWS Wildlands League / T. Simonett

The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources has recently released the draft of its Caribou Conservation Plan (CCP), a requirement under Ontario’s Endangered Species Act (ESA). Earthroots has some major concerns with the province’s Plan.  Although the document contains some high-level principles, it is missing essential aspects that are central to caribou conservation in Ontario.

The biggest issue with the draft is that it does not put an end to the single greatest threat to woodland caribou; the expansion of logging into intact habitat.  Instead, the CCP has been placed in a forest management planning context that is allowing threats to caribou to be perpetuated.  “Scientists have known for years that forestry activities like logging and road building pose direct threats to woodland caribou,” says Carly Armstrong Earthroots Northern Ontario campaigner. “Research has shown that they will not inhabit areas within 13km of roads.  Yet, the province’s Plan allows for the continued expansion of roads and cut-blocks into some of the last remaining caribou habitat areas,” Armstrong adds.  The draft comes as a major disappointment to Ontario’s environmental community, who have been working closely with the government throughout this process.

Another contentious issue involves the government’s flawed approach to controlling predators within caribou ranges.  “As our forests are logged, they are converted from the old-growth conditions required by caribou to the younger forests preferred by moose and deer,” Armstrong explains.  “Part and parcel with moose and deer come wolves that then prey upon caribou because they are an easier target.”  The government’s approach to protecting caribou from these threats is to promote hunting of deer, moose and wolves rather than dealing with the true issue at hand; expansion of logging into old-growth forests.

There are several key woodland caribou habitat areas remaining within Ontario’s managed forest.  If the government is serious about wanting woodland caribou to have a fighting chance of remaining in the southern Boreal Forest, it is essential that these forests are protected from industrial disturbances.  Unfortunately, the province is continuing with the status-quo, an approach that created the threatened status of woodland caribou in the first place.  The CCP’s main goal is to maintain self-sustaining caribou populations while encouraging the re-establishment of caribou in historical ranges.  Unfortunately the goals of CCP remain a pipe-dream if this draft is approved as is.

Please write to the Ministry of Natural Resources to urge them to protect remaining caribou habitat.  Visit our fax action centre by clicking here where you can revise our template letter to reflect your own personal views - the deadline for public comment through the Environmental Bill of Rights is Wednesday May 27th.

For more information please visit the Environmental Bill of Rights to review this posting by clicking here.

To read the draft Caribou Conservation Plan please click here.