Last Friday, Environment Minister Catherine McKenna declared an “imminent threat” to mountain caribou recovery, ordering the BC government to take immediate action to protect core mountain caribou habitat—or the federal government will step in and do it for them.
Mountain caribou populations have been steadily declining since they were first listed as a threatened species 15 years ago. Ten mountain caribou herds in BC now have fewer than 100 animals, and BC’s two southernmost herds have only three and four animals each.
McKenna highlighted habitat loss as the primary reason for our caribou’s startling decline and recognized the urgent nature of the situation. “It’s clear that we haven’t done enough to protect mountain caribou habitat,” says Wildsight’s Conservation Director, John Bergenske. “The changes we’ve made on the landscape have left mountain caribou in a dire situation.”
A province that is only now considering provincial endangered species legislation, BC will have to make some difficult decisions and come up with a strong plan of action if they want to avoid having the federal government step in.
“We’re pushing for immediate actions including protection of all critical caribou habitat now and for the long-term,” Bergenske continues. “Without drastic action, mountain caribou don’t stand a chance.”
McKenna’s announcement makes it resoundingly clear that mountain caribou cannot wait another 15 years for the government to take action.
“We’re pleased that the federal government has taken their responsibility under the Species at Risk act seriously and are willing to step in if BC does not take immediate action,” says Bergenske.