May 1, 2006

Manitoba releases strategy paper for protection of at-risk woodland caribou

Manitoba Conservation Minister Stan Struthers recently released a comprehensive plan for protecting at-risk boreal woodland caribou populations in Manitoba and working to recover their habitats. He said the Conservation and Recovery Strategy for Boreal Woodland Caribou strategy is based on scientific research as well as knowledge input from various First Nations communities and the Cormorant Resource Management Board.

The document sets out goals, objectives and guiding principles to help ensure effective habitat management, together with action plans to sustain boreal woodland caribou. The province will develop and carry out activities based on this strategy, which will continue to evolve as the knowledge gained from continuing research increases. Struthers noted that "Manitoba is co-operating with other provinces, territories and the federal government in developing a national boreal woodland caribou recovery strategy."

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 provincial Endangered Species Advisory Committee classified this species as endangered in Manitoba. Its status throughout Canada, excluding all coastal populations, was upgraded to threatened in May 2002. In 2003, the federal Species at Risk Act listed the boreal woodland caribou as threatened.

These assessments cited habitat loss, degradation and fragmentation as major threats to this species. Within Manitoba, the disappearance of woodland caribou from southern parts of their historical range is attributed to factors such as: human activities leading to loss or changes in habitat; uncontrolled hunting; a possible increase in predators; and the introduction of parasites and diseases.

The current population in the province 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.

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