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HomeNews100 Mile HouseBarnett Wants Public Consultation on Caribou Legislation

Barnett Wants Public Consultation on Caribou Legislation

Cariboo Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett took her growing frustration on the lack of consultation on mountain caribou legislation into her own hands hosting a public meeting Thursday at Williams Lake City Hall.

Barnett says everybody is concerned over the proposed Section 11 Species At Risk legislation.

“The governments both provincial and federal, we’ve asked them to please come and show us the management plan and what is going to happen to the land base,” she said.

“Everything we do in rural British Columbia to make a living, to play, to whatever is based on the land. We’re all very concerned about the habitat and the environment, but public consultation is necessary to make this all work and there has been no public consultation.”

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Local governments including the Cariboo Regional District, Mayors of 100 Mile House and Williams Lake, an NSTQ representative, and the Powder Kings Snowmobile Club, Barnett said took part in the meeting.

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She says while there were a lot of questions, but no answers, it was a good meeting.

“The concern is because there has been no public consultation what is going on and what is going to happen in the long term with caribou management plan in British Columbia, and that’s basically what it was about,” Barnett said.

“There has been a caribou management plan for the Cariboo Chilcotin and the Quesnel highlands area, but will that plan change? Public consultation is necessary in these issues.”

Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations, and Rural Development Doug Donaldson said they’re engaging with the federal government on the actions they’re already taking, and will be engaging with communities in the new year.

“We’ve reached from our staff to discuss what the state of affairs has been with the negotiations, but really it’s still in a state of no final decisions have been made with the section 11 agreement,” he said.

“The issue is that the federal government can only consider habitat considerations when it comes to mountain caribou. We as a province can look at more issues like a herd plan, predator management, restoration of habitat, and maternal penning so we want to make sure that the federal government knows that we’re taking action and then early in the new year we’ll be engaging with communities on the plans.”

Predator Control an Issue

“That’s wolves and grizzlies,” said Barnett.

“In all the information that we’ve been able to gather in talking to the people that live on the land base, live in the Kootenays, live in the Chilcotin, we talked to the ranchers out there; it’s definitely predator control.”

Caribou Populations Dwindling

Donaldson said mountain caribou in British Columbia has been declining for a number of years from a population of 40,000 to 15,000. The Southern Mountain Caribou in the northern central interior alone he said have declined from 800 animals to 220.

“This is an issue that just didn’t crop up since we became government,” Donaldson said.

“It really became an issue especially with some of the herds that are in decline over the last 16 years when the BC Liberals were in power and they chose to ignore the situation.”

Barnett maintains ‘there was lots done on this matter.’

“For years, and years there has been lots done on this matter,” she said.

“You’re now government, it’s now your job to consult with the public and tell the public what is happening. To keep saying the other government did nothing-what does that tell you? It tells you maybe they’re doing something but they don’t want you to know.”

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