Ottawa’s proposed recovery plan for threatened caribou herds does not prevent more habitat loss, but instead recommends “the use of mortality and habitat management tools” to manage predators.
Environment Minister Peter Kent announced that meant killing wolves.
“Predator control has been chosen,” he said. “That bothers me a great deal. It certainly disturbs me that 100 wolves have to be killed to protect four caribou calves.”
Thousands of wolves could be killed under the plan.
The plan does not prevent more development on critical habitat in the oilsands region, as long as road construction, mining and cutting down trees is combined with predator management tools, although some thresholds have been set out for critical habitat preservation.
No activities will be permitted to reduce undisturbed habitat below 65 per cent where two thirds of the herd are stable. Development is forbidden in areas where less than five per cent of undisturbed habitat remains.
However, for regions where undisturbed areas fall between the five and 65 per cent range, habitat reduction can take place as long as a plan is enacted to “stabilize” the herd – that is, maintain a level of 100 animals.
The plan suggests that in about 50 years, 65 per cent of undisturbed habitat should be restored for all herds, but admits the restoration technique has not been tested over a long term.
“We have to balance environmental conservation and preservation with the reality of civilization and economic development,” Kent told The Canadian Press.
The plan has been harshly criticized by environmental groups who worry it will not prevent the woodland caribou, which is currently being considered for endangered status, from going extinct in the next few decades.
The public has 60 days to comment on the report.