After years of delays, the Manitoba government has released its Conservation and Recovery Strategy for Boreal Woodland Caribou. The Strategy is a weaker, watered-down version of its predecessor that fails to embrace what is truly needed to create a healthy future for threatened woodland caribou – protecting large, intact areas of its boreal forest home.
The focus of the Strategy is on managing caribou citing unproven methods such as creating habitat through prescribed logging and predator management. What has been proven is that woodland caribou populations decline when their habitats are lost and fragmented by industrial activity such as forestry and mining.
The Manitoba government must acknowledge this by immediately revising the Strategy to include mandated habitat protection, action plans that have firm timelines for implementation, and assurance that protection of caribou and their habitats will be a key objective of land use planning in our boreal forest. Protected land decisions must be made with input from all interested Manitobans and consent from affected Aboriginal communities.
The provincial government estimates that Manitoba’s woodland caribou population has decreased by 50% since 1950. Manitobans can only be confident that the province is serious about protecting woodland caribou if they are listed and protected under the Manitoba Endangered Species Act. Over 10,000 letters have been sent from Manitobans to Gary Doer asking him for this legal protection and the province’s Endangered Species Advisory Committee has been recommending this action for over a decade.
Manitoba’s woodland caribou are at a crossroads. If the right decisions are made right now, woodland caribou can be sustained into the future within our province’s immense boreal forests. It’s time for Gary Doer to show the world that Manitoba is first-class in wildlife and wilderness protection by immediately revising the Caribou Strategy’s primary objective to protection of large, intact areas of habitat, facilitated by legal protection of woodland caribou under the Manitoba Endangered Species Act.
The Conservation and Recovery Strategy for Boreal Woodland Caribou can be found at: