Canadian Government Will Protect Caribou Herd

woodland caribou

Caribou gather near Roundrock Lake west of Lac de Gras in N.W.T. Anne Gunn/COSEWIC photo.


The Canadian government will be implementing a protection plan for the threatened boreal or woodland caribou herd in the north. The decision comes three months after the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPWS) filed a judicial review application in Federal Court this past April outlining how Environment minister Catherine McKenna concealed protection plans from the public regarding the herd.

The federal plan reaffirms the jurisdiction of territorial and provincial governments over the land responsibility where the caribou naturally roam. Progress reports will be required by federal officials ensuring recovery and protection efforts are being carried out effectively. Over 80 per cent of the country’s woodland caribou herds are considered in decline.

An attorney for the CPWS, Frederic Paquin, has cited the Species at Risk Act as a reason to open the discussion to “form opinions regarding whether or not the critical habitat of the woodland caribou is being protected in a sustainable manner.” Federal government press releases have qualified the new plan as “fulfilling Canada’s commitments under the federal Species at Risk Act.”

Environmental activists are skeptical of the scope of the new plan in informing Canadians what the federal government is doing toward conserving the various caribou herds in a timely and comprehensive manner.

The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society emphatically states that it will continue pushing for transparency from Environment Canada through legal action even after government action.

CPWS biologist Alain Branchaud, states Minister McKenna is required to report on which herds remain unprotected and what actions are being taken to preserve the caribou herds. Branchaud does not believe the outlined government plan successfully does what is needed for complete protection.

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