Agreement for B.C.’s northern caribou good news, says conservation initiative

Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative (Y2Y) congratulates West Moberly First Nations and Saulteau First Nations, the province of British Columbia, and the government of Canada on the finalization of an historic partnership agreement to protect and recover caribou in Treaty 8 traditional territory.

The agreement protects roughly 7,500-square-kilometres including a new 2,000-square-kilometer Indigenous protected area, expanding the Klinse-za Provincial Park located west of Chetwynd and Hudson’s Hope. First announced in March of 2019, this agreement continues an important precedent for the recovery of endangered species through the collaborative efforts of First Nations, governments, and stakeholders.

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According to Y2Y staff, it’s also good news for caribou populations as it includes habitat protections in northeast B.C. that are positive for reconciliation, people and wildlife. Y2Y applauds all parties for making meaningful progress in the Peace River region on caribou recovery — a species in steep decline after decades of mismanagement and the failure of B.C. and Canada to uphold the Species at Risk Act.

“West Moberly and Saulteau First Nations have stepped up to pull all the levers to recover endangered caribou, and I applaud their leadership and that of government in negotiating this agreement,” says Tim Burkhart, B.C. program manager at Y2Y. “This new conservation approach is one the province and Canada needs to do more of for other herds and habitat.”

Mountain caribou once roamed the Peace in great numbers. The cumulative impacts of regional resource development have pushed these animals to the brink, with just 219 remaining in the south Peace herds as of 2019.

“First Nations have been successfully leading caribou recovery in the region for several years now. This agreement recognizes and supports Indigenous conservation leadership, provides for meaningful actions to recover caribou, and does so using the best available information, including science and Indigenous knowledge,” says Burkhart.

“Across Canada, the only significant achievement in caribou conservation has been due to First Nation leadership, and they are the real heroes here,” says University of Montana biologist Mark Hebblewhite. “The long-awaited completion of the formal partnership agreement for these caribou is crucially needed, and long overdue.”

“We welcome the spirit of co-operation and collaboration that First Nations, B.C. and Canada have shown in the development of this historic agreement,” says Candace Batycki, B.C. and Yukon Program Director at Y2Y. 

Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative

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