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Manitoba doing better than most in conserving woodland caribou

Woodland caribou

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Woodland caribou (TED RHODES / POSTMEDIA NEWS ARCHIVES)

A study to see how well provinces and territories are responding to the federal government’s National Recovery Strategy for Boreal Woodland Caribou has found Manitoba is doing better than most.

The first annual assessment was done by the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) and David Suzuki Foundation (DSF).

CPAWS Manitoba executive director Ron Thiessen said Manitoba is among only three that received a "medium" grade for making progress on conserving woodland caribou.

Thiessen said according to CPAWS’ communications with Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship Minister Gord Mackintosh, the upcoming provincial caribou conservation strategy will set a national precedent by identifying that conserving large, intact habitats is key to perserving caribou.

The government and industry partners also have more than 200 collars in operation that track caribou movements to increase knowledge for developing protection measures.

Low grades were given to the Yukon, British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador for their performance in advancing caribou conservation measures over the past year.

CPAWS says the biggest threat to caribou’s survival is habitat fragmentation, which increases access by predators.

CPAWS and the David Suzuki Foundation conducted a survey of provincial and territorial governments, and also drew on their direct experience participating in caribou conservation processes across the country to develop their report Population Critical: How are Canada’s Boreal Woodland Caribou Faring?

The groups say they also found that recovery of the species is also hampered by a lack of legislative tools to enforce protection in some provinces and territories, and a failure in virtually all jurisdictions to consider the cumulative effects of new development proposals and infrastructure, such as roads and power lines, on the health of the boreal forests and wetlands caribou rely on for survival.

The full report is at www.cpaws.org.

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