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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Government's recovery plans include “IOU” for mountain caribou

Environmentalists say “protected areas” for caribou need protection not only from logging but also from mining and motorized recreation

A coalition of ten leading environmental groups is applauding the BCgovernment's recent legal protection of endangered mountain caribou habitat but say that the government's final protection efforts still include a major "IOU" for caribou: Protections against mineral exploration development, snowmobiling and heli-skiing in critical habitat are still outstanding.

Government's recovery plans include “IOU” for mountain caribou

Mountain cariou look towards a better future for recovery. Photo © Milo Burcham

For more information, contact
VANCOUVER, BC Feb 23, 2009

A coalition of ten leading environmental groups is applauding the BC government's recent legal protection of endangered Mountain Caribou habitat but say that the government's final protection efforts still include a major “IOU” for caribou: Protections against mineral exploration development, snowmobiling and heli-skiing in critical habitat are still outstanding – unfinished business the groups say presents an unnecessary risk to the future recovery of the animals.

The groups point out that while the government has now legally designated nearly 2.2 million ha of land for mountain caribou recovery, the Ministry of Environment has not fully enacted nor provided enforcement for the snowmobile closures deemed necessary by herd experts to recover the animals. There is also concern with the need to close loopholes that could allow
some logging.

“The government has drawn the lines and legally designated areas where no logging or road
building is to take place, and we applaud them for that,” said John Bergenske of Wildsight,
“but they need to ensure that snowmobiling and industrial development are outside of those
lines.”

“We remain concerned that the BC government is allowing snowmobiling in areas
recommended for closure by the government's own science team,” said Valerie Langer, of
ForestEthics. “The science could not be more clear on this: mountain caribou and
snowmobiling do not mix.”

The groups also note that the government has yet to boost caribou numbers in threatened
herds with animals transplanted from elsewhere (part of its original recovery promise), and is
also considering exemptions in those same designated protected areas for forms of industrial
development such as road building for the mining industry – development that is at odds with
caribou recovery.

“There has been significant progress made but we need assurance that government will
follow through on its stated commitments to mountain caribou recovery,” says Lawrence
Redfern of the Mountain Caribou Project.

As part of the government's final “IOU” the groups are calling on the government to:

  • Act on all the science-based recommendations to close mountain caribou habitat to
  • winter motorized recreation.
  • Boost caribou numbers in threatened herds with animals transplanted from elsewhere
  • to ensure herds achieve critical mass for self-sufficiency
  • Ensure that any activities within designated habitat support the recovery goals and
  • require a caribou biologist’s review of any development.
  • Ensure that large areas of caribou habitat that were missed, due to mapping errors, are
  • protected
  • Ensure that predator strategies are transparent and that wolves and cougars are not
  • scapegoats for incomplete habitat protection.

For more information, please contact:
John Bergenske, Wildsight: (250) 422-3566 or (250) 489-9605 cell
Andrew Frank, Forest Ethics (778) 330-5397
Lawrence Redfern, Mountain Caribou Project (250) 394-7311 cell or (250) 365-5350
Joe Scott, Conservation Northwest: (360) 319-7056
Roy Howard, Fraser Headwaters Alliance, (250) 968-4490, or cell (250) 961-9649
Joan Snyder, BC Nature, (250) 226-0012
Virginia Thompson, North Columbia Environmental Society, 250-837-3840
Chris Blake, Quesnel Rivershed Alliance (250) 296-4358
Jim Cooperman, Shuswap Environmental Action Society, (250) 679-3693, cell (250)
319-4197

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