October 29, 2010

A high-tech wildlife monitoring program will be part of the environmental-licensing process for the all-season road project from PR 304 near Hollow Water to Berens River First Nation, Aboriginal and Northern Affairs Minister Eric Robinson, minister responsible for the East Side Road Authority, and Conservation Minister Bill Blaikie announced today during an international caribou conference in Winnipeg.

“The wildlife monitoring program will ensure high-quality and meaningful information is available regarding moose and woodland caribou on the east side of Lake Winnipeg,” said Robinson.  “As part of the program, local residents and trappers will be hired to collect field data that will help us make responsible decisions as we move forward building this critical link to east-side communities.”

The $2.475-million wildlife monitoring program will involve the collection of wildlife distribution and movement data that will assist the East Side Road Authority (ESRA) in examining the potential effects on boreal woodland caribou, moose and furbearers described in the PR 304 to Berens River Environmental Impact Assessment. A variety of techniques will be used including aerial surveys, automated satellite tracking collars, furbearer track surveys and studies using infrared trail cameras.  Local trappers and residents from east-side communities will also gather specific wildlife information and field data. All data will be used to adapt road construction plans where necessary to minimize or avoid potential impacts on wildlife, Robinson said.

“I am very pleased to make this announcement while caribou experts from around the world are in Winnipeg for the 13th North American Caribou Workshop,” said Blaikie.  “This innovative program demonstrates our commitment to minimizing environmental impacts of the east-side road by incorporating traditional Aboriginal knowledge and scientific research.”

The Wildlife Monitoring Study is a three-year program developed by the ESRA in conjunction with Manitoba Conservation and Joro Consultants, an independent wildlife consultant.  The study is designed to collect additional baseline data, assess the expected impact on wildlife species, determine the effectiveness of the proposed mitigation measures and identify other potential mitigation measures, if required.  All monitoring and research conducted as part of the program will be planned and implemented with the involvement of ESRA, Manitoba Conservation, the Eastern Manitoba Woodland Caribou Advisory Committee and various community land-use committees.

“The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the all-season road from PR 304 to Berens River identified the need for wildlife monitoring,” said Ernie Gilroy, CEO of the ESRA.  “This program will provide useful baseline information on moose and woodland caribou populations and will help us to ensure the mitigation measures outlined in the EIA are appropriate and, if required, identify any other additional environmental protection measures that should be implemented.”

For more information call the Manitoba Floodway Authority at 945-4900 or toll free at 1-866-356-6355.

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