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Government’s plan will not save caribou

Wednesday, September 22nd 2010 11:53:58am

For Immediate Release

Government’s plan will not save caribou

Toronto, 22 September 2010 –Ontario’s woodland caribou are in danger of disappearing from this province, warns the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario, Gord Miller in his 2009/2010 annual report released today.

“The government’s conservation plan does little to reduce or eliminate the threats to this iconic species,” says Miller. “The plan assumes industrial development can occur under almost any scenario in the caribou’s boreal forest habitat. As a result the woodland caribou is at risk of being extirpated in Ontario by the end of this century.”

The report found that the government’s plan is not precautionary and fails to adequately set aside areas of northern Ontario as off-limits to forestry, mineral extraction, or hydro-electric development.

• Only 20,000 woodland caribou remain in Ontario, and their territory has shrunk by 50 per cent in a little more than a century.

• The range of the forest-dwelling caribou, which is now found mainly north of Hearst and Dryden, continues to shrink by roughly 34 km every decade.

“The government’s plan calls itself science-based,” says Gord Miller. “Instead, it’s faith-based. We can only pray that caribou will survive.”

The government promised to pass a regulation under the Endangered Species Act by June 2009 to protect and set-aside habitat for woodland caribou, but so far has produced nothing. Eight years ago, the Environmental Commissioner called for a caribou monitoring program, crucial to monitoring the boreal forest ecosystem. Yet still the government has no program fully in place.

“The government’s approach basically gambles with the fate of caribou and contains an unacceptable level of risk for this threatened species.  It cannot be ignored that caribou have disappeared – and never returned – wherever we have built roads and logged in the last 150 years,” says Gord Miller.

Click here to read the chapter “Mixed Results: Wildlife Management of Caribou, Moose, Elk and Deer” on the website of the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario.
Click here to download the full report in .pdf.

Click links below to access media releases on other topics mentioned in the Environmental Commissioner’s 2009/2010 Annual Report – Refining Conservation:

Environmental Commissioner Releases 2009/2010 Annual Report

Aging Landfills: Ontario’s Forgotten Polluters
Sewage Treatment – Not Good Enough
Province’s air quality standards are not airtight
Wanted: One billion more trees for southern Ontario
Lack of Mining Oversight Jeopardizes the Far North
Loophole big enough to truck 160,000 tonnes of sand through
More scrutiny needed for large natural gas plants
Province allows provincially significant wetlands to be drained

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The Environmental Commissioner of Ontario is appointed by the Legislative Assembly to be the province's independent environmental watchdog, and report publicly on the government's environmental decision-making.  

Aussi disponible en français.

For more information, contact:  
Hayley Easto
Communications and Outreach Coordinator
Environmental Commissioner of Ontario
416-325-3371 / 416-819-1673

Click for high-resolution photo.