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Canada : Background on Government of Canada support for ongoing public engagement on protecting at-risk caribou in northeastern British Columbia.

Canadas caribou have important cultural, subsistence and spiritual value for many Canadians and particularly for many Indigenous peoples. Scientists also see caribou as an indicator species because their population levels reflect the health of the forested ecosystems in which they live. Over the past five years, southern mountain caribou populations declined by 35%, from 5,800 to 3,800 animals, largely due to habitat fragmentation. Southern mountain caribou have been listed as threatened under the Species at Risk Act (SARA) since 2003.

In May 2018, Minister McKenna announced that the southern mountain caribou is facing an imminent threat based on a scientific assessment. Although land management is a provincial responsibility, the federal government has a legal obligation under the Act, to ensure appropriate measures are taken to protect at-risk species. The Minister is obligated under SARA to recommend to Cabinet an emergency protection order to respond to the imminent threat finding. If the province of British Columbia does not take adequate measures to protect the southern mountain caribou, the federal government could issue an emergency protection order under SARA.

Since 2017, British Columbia and Canada have been developing a Bilateral Conservation Agreement under Section 11 of the federal Species at Risk Act (Section 11 Agreement). The draft Section 11 Agreement contains overarching commitments, measures and strategies for the recovery of southern mountain caribou in British Columbia. The current draft Section 11 Agreement builds on the draft Agreement that was shared with the public in November 2017 expanding its scope from the Central Group to all of southern mountain caribou in British Columbia. British Columbia, Environment and Climate Change Canada, West Moberly First Nations and Saulteau First Nations have developed a draft Inter-Governmental Partnership Agreement for the Conservation of the Central Group of the southern mountain caribou (Partnership Agreement).

The province of British Columbia is leading public consultations on these two draft agreements for southern mountain caribou conservation, and recently extended the consultation period until May 31. These agreements are just one part of many steps the Government of Canada is taking to protect caribou. In 2018, we finalized a Federal Action Plan for Boreal Caribou, and proposed an order under SARA to protect their critical habitat on federal lands. Environment and Climate Change Canada also received significant funding in Budget 2018 for its Nature Legacy Initiative, including $15.5 million specifically for the recovery of southern mountain caribou in both British Columbia and Alberta, and has already contributed $5.35 million of these funds to support recovery efforts in British Columbia over the next three years.

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Publication:Mena Report
Geographic Code:1CBRI
Date:Apr 30, 2019
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