Mountain caribou need our help: New agreement is all talk, no action

Across BC, our mountain caribou are disappearing. Habitat destruction and threats from all corners have limited mountain caribou to small islands within their historical range that covered much of the province.

After decades of half-measures, Canada and BC have come together to sign a historic first agreement under Section 11 of the federal Species at Risk Act to protect and recover mountain caribou in the Central population group — an agreement that will soon be expanded to cover the entire province.

But the details are alarming: only some critical habitat will be protected, protection measures are weak and details on funding for recovery measures are notably absent. Population targets in the agreement are low: even after 50 years, there would only be 800 caribou in the Central Group, which covers a huge area. That’s not much, because there were 300 caribou there just a few years ago. Even worse, the agreement may abandon smaller caribou populations entirely, leaving the smaller herds to fade into history instead of giving them a fighting chance.

Mountain caribou are the canary in the coal mine of our mountain ecosystems and the inland temperate rainforest. If we dedicate ourselves to strong action now, we can give our ecosystems a chance to heal. If we keep going on our current path, many more species will fall.

Here’s the good news: the Section 11 agreement is still a draft and public input is being considered. The short comment period ending on January 5th just might let this agreement slide under the radar. Let’s make sure we give our reindeer a voice over the Christmas holidays!

Speak up now to let the Governments of Canada and BC know that half measures to caribou recovery are unacceptable. Send a message to let them know how this agreement must be bolder, stronger and far more aggressive to make a real difference.

You can read our joint long-form comments on the Section 11 agreement.

Photo by David Moskowitz