Provincial Strategy will Help Protect Woodland Caribou

Send by email Printer-friendly version Share this

Protecting at-risk boreal woodland caribou populations in Manitoba and working to recover their habitats is the focus of a strategy document released today by Conservation Minister Stan Struthers.

"The strategy is based on scientific research, knowledge and experience gained from co-operative partnerships between individuals and groups over the past three decades," said Struthers. "As we begin to implement the strategy to conserve this vulnerable species, we will respect First Nations’ treaty rights."

The Conservation and Recovery Strategy for Boreal Woodland Caribou outlines goals, objectives and guiding principles to help ensure effective management of habitat and action plans that will sustain boreal woodland caribou. The province will develop and implement action plans based on this strategy, which will continue to evolve with the ever-increasing knowledge gained from ongoing research.

The document was developed through working together with people from the Opaskwayak, Mosakahikan and Chemawawin Cree Nations, the Brokenhead Objibway, Grand Rapids, Hollow Water, Black River and Sagkeeng First Nations as well as the Cormorant Resource Management Board that participated on local caribou committees in the northern and eastern regions.

"The experiences, viewpoints and traditional knowledge of First Nations strengthened our overall understanding of caribou and will help develop a comprehensive and sound knowledge base that will guide effective management of the species," said the minister.

The minister also announced two new provincial biologist positions dedicated to species at risk including boreal woodland caribou herds. The new biologists will focus on woodland caribou conservation on the east side of Lake Winnipeg and northern Manitoba.

The western Canadian population of boreal woodland caribou was declared a vulnerable species by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada in April 1984. In September 1994, the Manitoba Endangered Species Advisory Committee assessed the status of boreal woodland caribou in Manitoba as endangered. In May 2002, the status for the species in Canada, excluding all coastal populations, was reassessed as threatened. In 2003, boreal woodland caribou were listed as threatened under the federal government’s Species at Risk Act. These assessments recognized that major threats to boreal woodland caribou include habitat loss, degradation and fragmentation.

Woodland caribou were once found throughout the boreal forest of Manitoba. Their disappearance from southern parts of their historical range is attributed to many factors including:

  • human activities that have resulted in loss or changes in habitat
  • a possible increase in predators,
  • the introduction of parasites and diseases, and
  • uncontrolled hunting.

The current population of boreal woodland caribou in Manitoba is estimated at between 1,800 and 3,200, spread across 10 identified ranges in the boreal lowlands, boreal shield ecozones and in other habitats.

"The development of this Manitoba strategy is essential to conserving and recovering boreal woodland caribou and their habitats," said Struthers. "Manitoba is co-operating with other provinces, territories and the federal government in developing a national boreal woodland caribou recovery strategy."