Two conservation agreements were announced in British Columbia on February 24, 2020, with the West Moberly and Saulteau First Nations to advance the recovery of Southern Mountain Caribou, an iconic species that are vital to Indigenous peoples in BC. With their numbers in serious decline, their recovery is unlikely without immediate action.
Minister of Environment and Climate Change Jonathan Wilkinson 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 BC ministers including: Doug Donaldson, the Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development; George Heyman, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy; and, Bruce Ralston, the Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources.
“For thousands of years, the caribou have given us food, clothes, and tools to survive harsh winters. They are not just animals to us,” said Chief Willson. “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.”
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 the province of BC 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.
For further background information on this agreement, click here.