Protect woodland caribou

June 5, 2006

Re: Woodland caribou declining with habitat (May 29).

The release of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society/Sierra Club of Canada report, Uncertain Future: Woodland Caribou and Canada’s Boreal Forest, should serve as a wakeup call to the Manitoba government, and require a reassessment of its recovery strategy for woodland caribou in Manitoba.

Even though woodland caribou have been declared threatened under the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA) since 2002, the Manitoba government has still not protected woodland caribou by listing them under the Manitoba Endangered Species Act. The province’s own species advisory committee has recommended this action repeatedly since 1994.

Fortunately, the opportunity still exists for Manitoba to take a leadership role in the conservation of woodland caribou and their boreal habitat, but we must act now. The boreal forest on the east side of Lake Winnipeg is the heart of Canada’s largest intact forest. The creation of an interconnected network of large protected areas on the east side of Lake Winnipeg will secure the survival of woodland caribou and all wildlife in this region for future generations.


Re: Woodland caribou declining with habitat (May 29).

The provincial government’s continued lack of meaningful action on protecting Manitoba wildlife and habitat is appalling. Despite receiving over 10,000 letters supporting legislated protection for woodland caribou, the government has yet to take the necessary action to safeguard this threatened species, paying only lip service to a problem that continues to grow in urgency.

The woodland caribou is an indicator species; their numbers are a reflection of the health of our boreal forests. The alarming drop in caribou populations over the last five decades underscores a problem that reaches far beyond the individual species. Immediate and concrete action is required to sustain the long-term health of this diverse ecosystem, starting with a commitment to protect the east side of Lake Winnipeg from industrial developments.

The provincial government’s caribou strategy is ineffective in ensuring caribou’s future survival. It was designed without the extensive participation that was promised and while it acknowledges the importance of habitat protection, it fails to take any concrete steps towards these ends.

In order for the caribou strategy to be effective, it must, at a minimum, include a mechanism for comprehensive review, mandated habitat protection, and a series of firm timelines.


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