Increased protection for South Peace caribou habitat

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Erica Fisher

Erica is a reporter for Moose FM and energeticcity.ca in Fort St. John, B.C. She grew up in Victoria, B.C. and received her Bachelor's Degree in Journalism from Concordia University in Montreal, Quebec.

The Peace Region in particular is seeing its caribou numbers getting small, with both the herds near Moberly Lake and Tumbler Ridge declining, and the Burnt Pine herd down to one last female. There are currently an estimated 1,100 Northern Caribou in the South Peace, which are expected to decrease to 800 over the next 21 years.

The hope is that increasing protection of approximately 400,000 hectares of their habitat will increase their population in the South Peace to 1,200 within three caribou generations. This is set to happen over the next 12 to 18 months in the Graham, Moberly, Burnt Pine, Kennedy Sinding, Scott, Narraway and Quintette herd ranges.

The details of the plan, developed with collaboration from First Nations and industry, will be formalized over the next several months. It also commits the government to looking at best management practices in lower elevation winter habitat.

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However, under the plan, the government will also be able to let some resource development opportunities like mining to go ahead in certain areas of high-elevation winter habitat. During the September Caribou Workshop, Ministry of Environment wildlife biologist Dale Seip said one of the reasons for the population decline is increased industrial activity in the area.

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