As part of Balanced Budget 2017, government committed $27 million to a comprehensive caribou recovery program over the next three years.
Seventy per cent of B.C.’s caribou herds are identified as threatened under the federal Species at Risk Act.
There are 51 woodland caribou herds in British Columbia divided into four groups: southern mountain, central mountain, northern mountain and boreal.
The new program will take a more holistic approach and build on existing recovery plans. It will focus on five key areas:
- Restoring and protecting critical caribou habitat.
- Expanding on existing maternal penning projects.
- Predator management.
- Increased research and monitoring.
- Increased compliance and enforcement.
This comprehensive approach will help reverse the population decline and ensure the long-term survival of B.C.’s iconic caribou. Today, there are some 19,000 caribou in the province, compared to between 30,000 and 40,000 in the early 1900s.
Caribou are sensitive to habitat disturbance/alteration and increases in predation, both of which are associated with resource development.
- In 2011, the Province endorsed an implementation plan to support the management and recovery of boreal caribou.
- B.C.’s approach to managing boreal caribou consists of:
- Protecting and restoring boreal caribou habitat;
- Managing disturbance to boreal caribou habitat, including impacts of industrial activity and fire suppression;
- Managing caribou predators and alternative prey; and
- Researching and monitoring the effectiveness of these actions and modifying them to ensure population and distribution goals are being achieved.
- B.C. is working with the federal government to achieve outcomes that serve both federal and provincial strategies.
- B.C. is currently revising B.C.’s Boreal Caribou implementation plan.
- In 2007, the Province endorsed the Mountain Caribou Recovery Implementation Plan (MCRIP) to halt the decline of mountain caribou and recover the population to 2,500 animals within 21 years.
- As part of this plan, B.C. has:
- Protected 2.2 million hectares of mountain caribou habitat from industrial logging and road building activities;
- Prohibited the sale of commercial tenures for backcountry recreational purposes across two million hectares of habitat; and
- Closed one million hectares of habitat to snowmobile use.
- The Province is managing predation of caribou by removing wolves in certain areas, increasing hunting and trapping allocations in other areas, and protecting groups of calves in the spring. (See separate fact sheet Mountain Caribou and Wolves.)
- B.C. is currently reviewing the plan to determine alignment with the federal recovery strategy for Southern Mountain Caribou.
South Peace Northern Caribou
- In 2012, the Province endorsed a Peace Northern Caribou implementation Plan (PNCP). This plan was developed to increase the population of seven northern caribou herds in the South Peace to more than 1,200 animals within 21 years.
- The Province is working with industry and First Nations to protect 90% of critical caribou habitat for these herds in the South Peace, as well as implementing other management actions.
- The Province is undertaking a collaborative joint study with Environment and Climate Change Canada to review regulatory instruments and initiatives in place for the protection of Southern Mountain Caribou and their critical habitat.