Backgrounder: The Survival of Boreal Woodland Caribou in Manitoba

What are the specific concerns in Manitoba?

Eleven boreal caribou ranges are found within Manitoba. The present extent and condition of 8 Manitoba boreal caribou ranges are considered to be sufficient to maintain self-sustaining caribou populations if no further disturbance takes place. Using existing information, these 8 ranges have been identified as requiring the “entirety of the current range” habitat for caribou survival.

What is the extent of habitat already disturbed by humans?

The average extent of human disturbance within Manitoba’s boreal caribou ranges is higher than that in neighbouring Saskatchewan and Ontario. On average, 17% of the area of boreal caribou ranges in Manitoba is directly impacted by human disturbance. A total of 23,786 km2 of caribou habitat in this province has been disturbed by humans.

How many caribou are there in Manitoba and how large is their collective ranges?

Approximately 2,481 boreal caribou live in Manitoba, though precise population estimates are not available for some ranges. Boreal caribou ranges cover 211,857 km2 (81,798 square miles) of Manitoba’s land base.

What extent of disturbance would be permissible and still enable caribou to survive?

Three caribou ranges in Manitoba may be resilient to further human disturbance, due to large range size and low human footprint. These include, Wapisu, North Interlake and Atikaki-Berens. However, the level of human disturbance compatible with caribou persistence is not yet known.

How great is the probability that boreal caribou will survive in Manitoba, given the current situation?

Kississing

  • Not self-sustaining
  • 40% probability of attaining self-sustainability under current range conditions
  • Low probability of long-term persistence

Naosao

  • Cannot be definitively categorized as self-sustaining or not self-sustaining
  • 50% probability of attaining self-sustainability under current range conditions
  • Moderate probability of long-term persistence

Reed

  • Cannot be definitively categorized as self-sustaining or not self-sustaining
  • 50% probability of attaining self-sustainability under current range conditions
  • Moderate probability of long-term persistence

William Lake

  • Not self-sustaining
  • 40% probability of attaining self-sustainability under current range conditions
  • Low probability of long-term persistence

Wapisu

  • Self-sustaining
  • 80% probability of attaining self-sustainability under current range conditions
  • High probability of long-term persistence

The Bog

  • Cannot be definitively categorized as self-sustaining or not self-sustaining
  • 50% probability of attaining self-sustainability under current range conditions
  • Moderate probability of long-term persistence

Wabowden

  • Cannot be definitively categorized as self-sustaining or not self-sustaining
  • 50% probability of attaining self-sustainability under current range conditions
  • Moderate probability of long-term persistence

North Interlake

  • Self-sustaining
  • 80 % probability of attaining self-sustainability under current range conditions
  • High probability of long-term persistence

Atikaki-Berens

  • Self-sustaining
  • 70% probability of attaining self-sustainability under current range conditions
  • Moderate probability of long-term persistence

Owl-Flintstone

  • Cannot be definitively categorized as self-sustaining or not self-sustaining
  • 50% probability of attaining self-sustainability under current range conditions
  • Moderate probability of long-term persistence

Non – delineated ranges in the rest of Manitoba’s boreal forest

  • Self-sustaining
  • 70% probability of attaining self-sustainability under current range conditions
  • Moderate probability of long-term persistence

CPAWS recommendations for Manitoba:

1. Manitoba must pause logging, road building and other development in intact areas of the commercial forest. This would help “anchor” self-sustaining caribou populations.

  • Aboriginal people need to have a meaningful say in the location of these areas.
  • Federal and provincial science reports should be compared with Aboriginal traditional knowledge.
  • 2. The Manitoba government should undertake the research necessary to fill gaps in knowledge of caribou populations and trends. In particular, they need to:
  • Identify caribou population units, collect population trend data and characterize range conditions for each of these ranges within the remainder of Manitoba’s Boreal Forest;
  • Undertake ongoing monitoring of caribou habitat use and trends to evaluate the effectiveness of current land use and management strategies, and to plan for the future.
  • 3. Industry and government must act to conserve critical habit and assure survival of boreal woodland caribou.
  • Industry leaders and the government should agree to a halt to industrial forestry within Manitoba’s remaining intact contiguous range for this species. This would protect against further range loss while researchers collect data, map particular ranges, and assess range conditions.
  • Manitoba’s “mosaic” or “clear-cutting for caribou” approach to woodland caribou management should be revised to accommodate the best available science, including the new science of this review, and must not be used in remaining intact boreal forest habitat until the critical research gaps are filled and a credible assessment of these impacts can be made.
  • Planning should focus on maintaining current caribou range first and then strategically recovering range lost to human disturbance.
  • 4. Manitoba Caribou Conservation Strategy
  • Manitoba’s Conservation and Recovery Strategy for Boreal Caribou needs to be revised to make large-scale boreal conservation its key objective.
  • Manitoba’s Conservation and Recovery Strategy for Boreal Caribou needs to be revised to ensure the protection of caribou habitats as legally mandated in the Manitoba Endangered Ecosystems and Species Act.
  • For more information including media release, map, national summary, images and B-Roll visit

www.caribouandyou.ca Contact: Ron Thiessen, Executive Director, CPAWS MB, ph. 204 949 0782, 204 4971

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