Sweeping Emergency Order sought to save mountain caribou

Environmental Law Centre, University of Victoria

Mountain caribou have a Christmas present to federal environment Minister Catherine McKenna Dec. 14. But this present wasn’t made in a workshop at the North Pole or delivered by reindeer (aka domesticated caribou). It comes from the University of Victoria Environmental Law Centre, a former Environment Canada biologist and the Valhalla Wilderness Society.

The package is a Petition under the Species at Risk Act that documents the fact that all 10 of British Columbia’s most southerly mountain caribou are in imminent danger of extinction – and demands an emergency order to save them.

“If the Minister follows the law, these Canadian reindeer could be safer by Christmas Eve. We are the third team this year to send the Minister scientific proof of an emergency situation regarding mountain caribou,” says Calvin Sandborn, legal director of the ELC. “Each of the two previous petitions documented the case for single herds. This new document shows that all ten southern herds face imminent threats to their very survival. Now the law requires Ms. McKenna to recommend that Cabinet issue an emergency order to protect their habitat.”

“This is clearly an emergency,” says Dr. Lee Harding, a retired Environment Canada biologist and manager. “Four of the 10 local populations of these genetically unique caribou are extinct or nearly so – and five others are approaching extinction. All 10 populations have declined.”

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