Northern Caribou Management

There is approximately 17,000 northern caribou in British Columbia. They are distributed among 31 herds, of which 15 are listed as “Threatened” under the Species at Risk Act (SARA). They can be associated with mountainous areas and adjacent low-lying plateaus, and having distinct seasonal migrations between high-elevation winter and summer ranges to low-elevation winter ranges.

In the south Peace of British Columbia there are seven northern caribou herds that have been in decline for more than a decade. These herds are referred to as South Peace Northern Caribou and consist of the Graham, Moberly, Scott, Burnt Pine, Kennedy Siding, Quintette and Narraway (Bearhole/Redwillow portion) herds.

Their decline is a result of habitat loss, fragmentation and alteration, and increased predation associated with various forms of industrial activity. The province of British Columbia has moved forward in developing a plan that will manage these herds for recovery.

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Background Information

Government's Decision and Implementation Plan

In October 2012, government announced its intention to increase South Peace Northern Caribou to ≥ 1200 animals within 21 years across their range. Included among the Province's commitments to increase the South Peace Northern Caribou are:

  1. Protect 90% of identified high elevation winter habitat across the range of South Peace Northern Caribou:
    · Protect ≥ 90% of identified high elevation winter habitat in the Graham, Moberly, Burnt Pine, Scott, Kennedy Siding, and Narraway herd ranges; and
    · Protect ≥ 80% of identified high elevation winter habitat in the Quintette herd range.
  2. Conduct South Peace Northern Caribou population management to address non-habitat related threats (e.g., predation) to certain South Peace Northern Caribou herds.
  3. In all ranges, manage the industrial footprint in identified high and low elevation habitats by requiring standardized industry management practices across all industry sectors to reduce or prohibit surface disturbance and habitat alteration, and support long-term sustainable caribou habitat conditions.
  4. In all ranges, monitor the compliance and effectiveness of management actions and modify actions accordingly to ensure the population and distribution goal is being achieved.
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In order to facilitate the implementation of government commitments for South Peace Northern Caribou management, the Ministry of Environment developed the "Implementation Plan for the Ongoing Management of South Peace Northern Caribou (Rangifer tarandus caribou pop. 15) in British Columbia" (PDF 1.23MB) with support from other British Columbia government agencies. The Plan identifies government’s goals and objectives, and associated agency responsibilities for implementing components of the plan.

Under the implementation plan, certain levels of industrial development will continue within south Peace northern caribou habitat. To support this process and to ensure that habitat management objectives are achieved, the Natural Resource Board (NRB) specified that planning and approval of industrial development activities within identified high-elevation winter habitat will require a caribou mitigation and monitoring plans (CMMPs). To support proponents in the development of their CMMPs, a guidance document was developed that identifies specific criteria and principles that proponents should consider in order for development activities to proceed.


Actions to Support the Management of South Peace Caribou

Additional Resources