Santa’s reindeer’s cousins faring worse in Newfoundland and Labrador than some other jurisdictions,

  • Published on Dec 17 2013 |
  • This article is tagged as: News

Dec 17th, 2013

Santa’s reindeer’s cousins faring worse in Newfoundland and Labrador than some other jurisdictions, new national report finds

St. John’s - In the first annual assessment of how well provinces and territories are enacting the requirements for conservation plans under the federal government’s National Recovery Strategy for Boreal Woodland Caribou, the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) and David Suzuki Foundation (DSF) find the majority are lagging behind badly.

“In Newfoundland and Labrador, we are discouraged about the lack of progress our government has made in developing effective caribou conservation measures over the past year,” says Tanya Edwards, Executive Director for the NL Chapter of CPAWS. Without clear delineation of critical habitat and better follow-through on environmental assessments, Newfoundland and Labrador will be unable to use science-based decision-making for developing a land-use plan. Without better protection of habitat (e.g., from hydro development) and better mitigations of impacts from hunting pressure in central Labrador, the province’s boreal caribou herds will continue to be imperiled with very little prospect for recovery. On the Island of Newfoundland, there is an over-emphasis on predator control as the solution to improving calf survival rates. There is little or no discussion of the interaction of habitat quality in exacerbating the documented effects by predators, and the burgeoning numbers of the introduced moose that keep predator populations high while caribou numbers rapidly decline.

“We gave low grades to six of the nine provinces and territories on their overall performance in conserving caribou over the past year.  Only three jurisdictions, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and the Northwest Territories, received “medium” grades because they have made some welcome progress in conserving Santa’s reindeer’s Canadian cousins,” says Eric Hebert-Daly, CPAWS National Executive Director.
Canada’s boreal woodland caribou are of the same family as domesticated “reindeer” found in Nordic countries.  However, more than half of Canada’s boreal woodland caribou populations are estimated to be at risk of extinction.

The groups gave low grades to the Yukon, British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, Quebec, and Newfoundland and Labrador for their performance in advancing caribou conservation measures over the past year.  
The biggest threat to caribou’s survival is habitat fragmentation, which increases access by predators. Scientists consider caribou as bellwethers of the health of the Boreal forest, which also cleanses our air and water, and stores vast amounts of carbon within its soils, moderating climate change. 

CPAWS and the David Suzuki Foundation conducted an extensive survey of provincial and territorial governments, and also drew on their direct experience participating in caribou conservation processes across the country to develop their report called Population Critical: How are Canada’s Boreal Woodland Caribou Faring?

The groups found that in addition to a lack of concerted effort by most provincial and territorial governments to create effective caribou conservation plans, recovery of the species is also hampered by a lack of legislative tools to enforce protection in some provinces and territories, and a failure in virtually all jurisdictions to consider the cumulative effects of new development proposals and infrastructure, such as roads and power lines, on the health of the boreal forests and wetlands that caribou rely on for survival.

Copies of the executive summary and full report, including the grades by province and territory, can be found at  http://cpaws.org/news/caribou-report-2013

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For interviews, please contact: 
Dr. Ian Goudie, Forest Science Advisor, CPAWS-NL, iangoudie@nl.rogers.com, (709) 765-6271
Tanya Edwards, CPAWS-NL, Executive Director, tedwards@cpaws.org, (709) 726-5800