According to the non-profit organization Caribou & You, British Columbia’s caribou population is rapidly decreasing. The Canadian province does not have endangered species regulations like those found in the US, but leaders have begun implementation of a management plan for the declining species.
Although the plan is a step in the right direction, Canada’s largest environmental organizations fear the it is too lenient and not bold enough to save the country’s Boreal Woodland Caribou herds. The Implementation Plan admits that caribou loss is due in part to habitat loss and industrial development, but specifics on how it will reverse the animal’s decline are vague at best.
Three years ago, 500,000 hectares of caribou herd range was made exempt from construction for a five-year review period. Although this provides the caribou some protection, it is only a temporary measure protecting half of British Columbia’s caribou herds. Groups like the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) blame oil and gas exploration for the deterioration of caribou habitat. In fact, 75 percent of Canadian caribou rangeland is also part of petroleum exploration projects. Moreover, 3.5 million hectares of protected land promised by the BC government will continue to allow oil exploration, with some restrictions.
CPAWS hopes leaders will create concrete plans to protect British Columbia’s three caribou populations, the Boreal, Northern Mountain and Southern Mountain. If possible, they would like to create a new national park to protect these creatures.