Background on Section 11 and partnership agreements for the Southern Mountain Caribou
On February 21, 2020, the governments of Canada and British Columbia and the West Moberly and the Saulteau First Nations finalized two conservation agreements for the Southern Mountain Caribou, under Section 11 of the federal Species at Risk Act: the Section 11 conservation agreement between Canada and British Columbia and the partnership agreement between West Moberly First Nations, Saulteau First Nations, Canada, and British Columbia. Detailed summaries of the two agreements can be found on the Species at Risk Public Registry.
Southern Mountain Caribou recovery context
In November 2017, a draft conservation agreement between the governments of Canada and British Columbia, for the central group of Southern Mountain Caribou, was published for public comment. Based on feedback received during the public comment period, the scope of the draft agreement was expanded to include the southern, central, and northern groups. Negotiations on a partnership agreement between Canada, British Columbia, and the Saulteau and the West Moberly First Nations were initiated in late 2017. The partnership agreement focuses on populations in the central group and proposes immediate and long-term protections for critical habitat among other measures. The drafts for the expanded Section 11 bilateral agreement with British Columbia and the partnership agreement with British Columbia and the two First Nations were posted for public comment on March 21, 2019. Feedback received during the public engagement process, in community meetings held in spring 2019 and in follow-up meetings held in fall 2019, helped to inform the final versions of the agreements. The extensive feedback was considered when making the final decisions to sign the Section 11 agreement and partnership agreement.
Summary of partnership agreement
The partnership agreement sets out actions intended to recover the central group of Southern Mountain Caribou to self-sustaining levels that support traditional Indigenous harvesting activities, consistent with aboriginal and treaty rights. After decades of dramatic population decline, the central group is down to about 230 animals today. The West Moberly and the Saulteau First Nations have been leading recovery actions for the central group, in collaboration with the provincial government, by imposing a voluntary moratorium on hunting caribou, establishing and managing a maternal pen, implementing traditional predator-management programs, undertaking habitat mapping and restoration, and carrying out other conservation activities. These actions along with the provincial government’s predator control program that started in 2015 and actions taken by other First Nations and collaborators have resulted in recent population increases in the Klinse-Za, Kennedy Siding, and Quintette herds. Building on these successes, the partnership agreement includes commitments that the parties will make in support of expanding protected habitat for caribou, initiating an Indigenous guardians program, participating in collaborative knowledge sharing and research, and continuing to implement existing and new caribou recovery measures including maternity pens. Canada is committing to provide financial and technical support for these activities.
Summary of Section 11 agreement
The bilateral Section 11 agreement between Canada and British Columbia establishes a framework for cooperation and sets out immediate and long-term measures in support of Southern Mountain Caribou conservation and recovery in each of the northern, central, and southern groups of the species in the province. These measures include commitments related to habitat protection and restoration, herd planning, predator management, primary prey management, hunting, science, Indigenous knowledge, recreation management, maternal pens and captive breeding, and monitoring.
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