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No Herd Left Behind!!! CPAWS Eagerly Awaits Final Boreal Woodland Caribou Recovery Strategy

As all of you caribou enthusiasts out there are no doubt aware, the federal government is currently in the final revision period for the National Boreal Woodland Caribou Recovery Strategy. We are getting very close to having the government release their final strategy for recovering our majestic caribou – let’s hope they do the right thing and emphasize conservation of caribou and their habitat!

For those of you new to the caribou scene, here’s a bit of history: After years of pressure from biologists and the conservation community the federal government finally recognized the boreal woodland caribou as a threatened species in 2002. Unfortunately, the government can be a terribly slow machine; it took them until August 2011 to develop the draft recovery strategy that is legally required for threatened species under the federal Species At Risk Act (SARA). After an extended public comment period (which ended February 22, 2012) the government was supposed to have 30 days to complete the final recovery strategy.

Since that time the Minister of Environment has granted a 30 day extension for the revision process, so the final recovery strategy is now due on April 22, 2012. I think we can forgive Minister Kent’s tardiness, as long as we get a strong strategy that recognizes the pressing conservation issues facing one of our most iconic animals and their habitat.

I know I am not the only one who loves our emblematic antlered friends, after all, the caribou graces our quarter, it is the provincial animal of Newfoundland & Labrador, and it is one of the most important species for the cultural heritage of Canada’s First Nations communities. The caribou are a Canadian icon and they epitomize our northern wilderness. I for one think it would be a national disgrace if we are not able to preserve this incredible species.

CPAWS has not been complacent while we await the release of the final national recovery strategy. We continue to communicate with key decision makers to press for a strong, conservation-oriented recovery strategy. We are continuing to argue for a strong federal recovery strategy which sets the objective of having ALL remaining caribou populations stable and self sustaining, with no herd left behind! We have also emphasized to the government the need for large scale habitat protection, monitoring, and disturbance thresholds which give the caribou a higher chance of survival.
With the help of our thousands of caribou supporters we are getting the government’s attention. We want to thank all of the CPAWS supporters out there who have helped turn up the pressure to preserve our northern wilderness and the animals that depend on it!

The fight for caribou is far from over! Once the federal government releases the final recovery strategy they will begin implementing it through an Action Planning process with the provinces and territories. CPAWS intends to follow the implementation of the federal strategy into every province and territory, and we are currently developing a strategy to ‘set the bar high’ across the country. As our caribou campaign continues to develop, we will be contacting all of our caribou supporters to ask for their help in ‘setting the bar high’ for caribou conservation in every jurisdiction across the country!

We’ve already started working towards implementation of caribou conservation in the provinces. In the coming weeks we will be preparing a response to the Manitoba Action Plan for Boreal Woodland Caribou, which is available for public comment until March 20, 2012. We are also continuing our campaign to push for the Newfoundland island population of woodland caribou to be reassessed as a threatened population under the Species at Risk Act. This will help bring much needed conservation attention to the caribou in Newfoundland.

CPAWS is also continuing our work on conserving boreal woodland caribou habitat across the country through our engagement in the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement. We believe it is possible to conserve caribou while also ensuring a prosperous forest sector.  We are working with other environmental groups and the forestry industry to achieve both goals through the CBFA.

Caribou enthusiasts – we’ll be sending out updates in the coming weeks on how you can help CPAWS push for caribou conservation across the nation.

Opportunities for caribou conservation don’t end with the federal recovery strategy – it is only beginning!