The provincial government is seeking public feedback on two draft caribou recovery agreements aimed at protecting B.C.’s southern mountain caribou.
Public engagement dates for Williams Lake and Quesnel have been set for next week; with a date of Monday, April 8 from 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at Cariboo Memorial Recreation Complex in Williams Lake, and Thursday, April 11 from 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at the Quesnel & District Seniors’ Centre in Quesnel.
Residents can also provide feedback on both agreements until May 3, 2019 at 4 p.m. by filling out and mailing a feedback form or filling out an online feedback form.
B.C. and Canada have been developing a bilateral conservation agreement under Section 11 of the Species at Risk Act which contains “overarching commitments, measures and strategies for the recovery of southern mountain caribou in B.C.”
As well, the B.C. government, federal government and West Moberly and Saulteau First Nations have been negotiating an inter-governmental partnership agreement for the conservation of the central group of the southern mountain caribou. The partnership includes “temporary protection of important caribou habitat while a long-term plan is developed through engagement with local communities, stakeholders and Indigenous peoples,” states the government’s website on the matter.
The move to protect caribou has been a contentious issue in recent times due to the potential economic impact on the resource industry.
Cariboo Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett is urging the public to attend and have their say.
Public meetings are also being held in the Peace region April 1-5.
“All feedback received will be compiled into a “what we heard” document that will be made publicly available and all input will help inform all parties’ decision-making regarding the finalization and signing of the agreements,” states the province website.
The caribou population in B.C. has declined from 40,000 to about 15,000 provincewide over the last century due to significant changes within the animal’s preferred habitat.