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Crees raise concern over endangered Woodland Caribou

  • Published on Apr 07 2009 |
  • This article is tagged as: caribou

Nemaska – Earlier today, the Quebec Ministry of Natural Resources and Wildlife announced that they have updated their list of Threatened or Vulnerable Species with several new additions. Although the Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee) is favourable to these new additions, it must point out that without the long awaited corresponding Recovery Plans, there will be little progress on protecting these species.  The Crees are highlighting this concern because the MNRW is in the process to approve a series of new roads and forestry operations in critical habitat of vulnerable Woodland Caribou.

It has been four years since the MNRW placed Woodland Caribou on Quebec’s Threatened or Vulnerable Species List and there is still no Recovery Plan in place.   Without a Recovery Plan, no steps can be taken to protect the Woodland Caribou or their habitat. 

Reflecting on this situation, Bill Namagoose, Executive Director of the Grand Council Crees commented:  “What is the point in designating Woodland Caribou as a vulnerable Species if you then grant logging companies open access to the last remaining pockets of habitat?  We cannot help but think that the MNRW is dragging its feet on the Caribou Recovery Plan in order to allow the forestry companies to build hundreds of kilometers roads in critical Caribou habitat before any protection can be granted.” 

The conservation community is unanimous that the best way to protect Woodland Caribou is by preserving large tracks of undisturbed forests and yet the Government is rushing to open these areas up to logging.  The Crees have insisted that any new roads in these areas will be subject to public scrutiny through the environmental review process of section 22 under the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement and the Environmental Quality Act.  Quebec to date has refused to this. “Why is Quebec refusing to apply environmental assessments to major forestry roads affecting Woodland Caribou habitat”, asked Bill Namagoose.

Grand Chief Matthew Mukash added: “Two of our communities have proposed protecting these areas through parks or bio-reserves and so it is important that these requests and the sensitive nature of the habitat are measured against future forestry development.  This is why we will insist the environment review process under section 22 be applied and that the presence of a vulnerable species be considered in the absence of effective measures to protect the Caribou. It makes sense to place a moratorium on development of major forestry roads in these areas until the Government can complete the necessary Recovery Plan.” 

For more information contact:
Bill Namagoose,      (613) 761-1655
Executive Directory GGCEI   (613) 725-7024 (cell)
Romeo Saganash,     (418) 564-1598 (French inquires)
Director of Quebec Relations GCCEI