After surveys revealed that Bathurst and Bluenose East herds of barren-ground caribou in Canada's north had declined by 50% since 2050, the World Wildlife Fund Canada has issued a call for action to do something to save them before they're gone.
The barren-ground caribou. (Photo: Hayne at English Wikipedia)
This study highlights a disturbing trend across the Canadian Arctic where many barren-ground caribou herds are in a state of decline, with the Bathurst herd now sitting at less than two per cent of its 1980s population. The barren-ground caribou is part of the reindeer family.
Paul Crowley, WWF-Canada’s vice-president of Arctic conservation, says:
“The federal government must protect the struggling Bathurst and Bluenose East herds in 2019 by putting a moratorium on granting new mining exploration permits in caribou calving grounds. One of the greatest threats to the recovery of barren-ground caribou is disturbance during the calving period, and eliminating disruptions such as mining activities and exploration will help these herds recover. The Nunavut Land Use Plan presents an important opportunity to protect critical habitats and ensure the long-term recovery of the species.”
Brandon Laforest, WWF-Canada’s senior specialist, Arctic species and ecosystems, says:
“While we know herd numbers naturally ebb and flow, we are extremely concerned about the rate in which these two herds continue to decline, with no signs of recovery. The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada classified the barren-ground caribou as Threatened in 2016, but the government of Canada has yet to make a decision on their designation under the Species at Risk Act (SARA). The government must invest heavily and quickly in the listing process for barren-ground caribou under SARA — protecting critical habitat and allowing much-needed resources to flow toward the development of management plans that will aid in their recovery.”
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