New conservation agreements signed to protect Southern Mountain Caribou in British Columbia
February 21, 2020 – Vancouver, British Columbia
The Government of Canada is committed to protecting and conserving nature and wildlife. They are an important legacy for our kids and grandkids. Canada’s Southern Mountain Caribou are an iconic species and are vital to Indigenous Peoples in British Columbia, but their numbers are in serious decline, and their recovery is unlikely without immediate action.
This is why the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, the Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, today announced that Canada has reached two final conservation agreements with British Columbia and the West Moberly and Saulteau First Nations to advance the recovery of Southern Mountain Caribou. He was joined at the signing in Vancouver by Chief Ken Cameron of the Saulteau First Nations; Chief Roland Willson of the West Moberly First Nations, and British Columbia ministers including the Honourable Doug Donaldson, the Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development; the Honourable George Heyman, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy; and the Honourable Bruce Ralston, the Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources.
The two agreements entered into under Section 11 of the Species at Risk Act commit the signatories to immediate and long-term actions to stabilize and recover populations of Southern Mountain Caribou across British Columbia and demonstrate a collaborative approach to species at risk conservation.
The signing of these two agreements represents historic collaboration between all levels of government, including Indigenous partners, to implement measures such as habitat protection and restoration, recreational management, and maternal penning.
The partnership agreement includes commitments that the parties will make in support of expanding protected habitat for caribou, including in Klin-se-za Provincial Park; initiating an Indigenous guardians program; participating in collaborative knowledge sharing and research; and continuing the implementation of successful caribou recovery measures, such as maternity pens.
The bilateral Section 11 agreement between Canada and British Columbia establishes a framework for cooperation to recover the species. These measures include commitments related to habitat protection and restoration, herd planning, predator management, primary prey management, hunting, science, Indigenous knowledge, maternal pens and captive breeding, and monitoring.
Taken together, today’s agreements demonstrate a clear path and set out achievable goals to stabilize and recover the Southern Mountain Caribou. The agreements also provide a model for caribou recovery efforts across the country moving forward. The final conservation agreements were drafted following consultations and engagement with relevant communities, First Nations, and stakeholders. The links to the agreements can be found below.
“The conservation agreements announced today represent bold action to support the survival and recovery of the iconic Southern Mountain Caribou in British Columbia. It has taken a lot of hard work to get us here today. I wish to thank and recognize the leadership of Saulteau and West Moberly First Nations for their continued advocacy and leadership in these agreements. I would also like to thank the Government of British Columbia for its partnership. Today’s agreements are an important step to protect this species now and into the future.”
– The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Environment and Climate Change
“From the beginning, this government committed to protecting this iconic species. There’s no question that we’ve had to overcome some challenges along the way, but I am proud of how the parties persevered to find solutions—and this agreement today is a significant step forward.”
– The Honourable Doug Donaldson, Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development for British Columbia
“For thousands of years, the caribou have given us food, clothes, and tools to survive harsh winters. They are not just animals to us. They are our brothers and sisters, our friends, and our ancestors. The caribou have been suffering for decades as their habitat is destroyed piece by piece. They need us now, all of us. This partnership agreement gives us hope. It means that help is on the way.”
– Roland Willson, Chief of the West Moberly First Nations
“Many years ago, our ancestors were given a prophecy from the Creator. The prophecy says that we will find sanctuary at the Twin Sisters Mountain. Our people have always kept faith with the prophecy. We know it to be true. It is so fitting that, by protecting the Twin Sisters area here today, we can now also give sanctuary to our endangered caribou in the future.”
– Ken Cameron, Chief of the Saulteau First Nations
The partnership agreement between the West Moberly First Nations, Saulteau First Nations, Canada, and British Columbia includes commitments to protect hundreds of thousands of hectares of important caribou habitat in northeast British Columbia.
The West Moberly and Saulteau First Nations will initiate an Indigenous guardians program for caribou conservation in consultation with Canada and British Columbia.
Canada will contribute technical expertise and funding to support the caribou recovery and restoration actions in these agreements.
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.
Office of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change
Environment and Climate Change Canada
819-938-3338 or 1-844-836-7799 (toll-free)
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