The Director of the Caribou Recovery Program with the Ministry of Forests Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development says no significant social or economic impact is anticipated in the Cariboo Chilcotin by a Draft Section 11 Agreement to conserve southern mountain caribou populations.
Darcy Peel says Section 11 does not contemplate any backcountry management but simply provides a structure for the recovery planning to occur and allows the federal government to participate in that in a much more official manner.
“Moving forward as we go through the herd planning process there may be some discussion about those things but not in a widespread manner,” he says.
“In the Cariboo region, a lot of those constraints are already on the land base that came through other processes related to a previous caribou management project.”
Peel says while wolves in many places are the primary driver to the population decline of caribou they are not the ultimate cause of that decline.
He says the mountain pine beetle epidemic, the salvage logging that followed, and the most recent occurring fires have resulted in changes to the landscape and cumulatively have an impact on caribou recovery.
“The changes in the landscape have allowed a greater density of wolves to be present on the landscape and so you end up with this higher predation rate,” Peel says.
“In the Cariboo region, we are currently assessing that and have a number of collars on wolves out there to better understand what the density is and what their predation rates are on caribou.”
A community engagement session is scheduled to take place Thursday in Quesnel starting at 5:30 pm.
Feedback on both draft agreements closes May 3, 2019, at 4 pm.
“It will start a bunch more work for us to collate all of those comments, make sure that we’ve understood them and collected them all, and put them in a document like a what we heard document for the public, but also prepare those things for cabinet so that they then can see that information as they review the Section 11 and the partnership agreement to decide on their final assessment of those two agreements to see does it make sense to move forward the way they are, do they need to have further discussions internally, ask questions and clarification of issues, things like that,” Peel says.
“We are working on a matter of weeks after the May 3rd deadline. The goal is the end of May, end of spring to have that back to cabinet so that they have an opportunity to consider prior to the summer.”
(Editor’s Note: Listen to the author of this report with Darcy Peel Director of the Caribou Recovery Program with the Ministry of Forests Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development in the audio file below)