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Canada to Try to Save Unique, Endangered Mountain Caribou


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Bianca
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« on: October 26, 2007, 06:26:09 am »


A mountain caribou in British Columbia. The last remaining
mountain caribou will soon have 2.18 million hectares of
land in westernmost Canada to roam, free from predators
and commercial development, staying the demise of the
most endangered mammal in North America(AFP/HO/File)








                              Canada to try to save unique, endangered mountain caribou





by Philippe Moulier

 VANCOUVER, Canada (AFP) - The last remaining mountain caribou will soon have 2.18 million hectares of land in westernmost Canada to roam, free from predators and commercial development, staying the demise of the most endangered mammal in North America.
 
By early 2008, some 380,000 hectares of its historical stomping grounds will be added to an existing 1.8-million hectare nature preserve in the inland temperate rain forests of British Columbia province, said officials.

The chunk of land is twice the size of Jamaica.

A cull of the mountain caribou's natural predators in the region is also planned, officials said.

The decision by the British Columbia government follows three years of lobbying by 10 environmental groups concerned about the animals' fate.

British Columbia Agriculture and Lands Minister Pat Bell told AFP he received 15,000 emails from citizens pleading with him to save the endangered species.

Mountain caribou, represented on the Canadian quarter coin since 1937, are cousins of the woodland caribou found mostly in northern Canada and parts of Alaska.

Only a dozen mountain caribou herds live in steep mountain ranges in southeast British Columbia and parts of the US states of Washington, Idaho and Montana, using their huge hooves to cross deep snow at higher elevations to escape wolves and cougars in winter.

In spring, the mountain caribou migrate to the valleys below. There, however, their numbers have dropped by one-quarter in the past decade, largely due to logging, road building and flooding from dams.

The forestry industry, which accounts for three percent of British Columbia's gross domestic product, cut vast tracts of old-growth cedar, pine and spruce forests, reducing its food source (lichen) and leafy canopies that hide the herds in spring and summer.

The clearings also attract more deer, elk and moose, and with them, more predators.

To counter this threat, British Columbia is banning new road-building and logging in the mountain caribou's habitat.

"There will be an impact on the industry, but 95 percent of the land is owned by the Crown so we're held by the laws set by the government," said Archie MacDonald of the Council of Forest Industries (COFI).

As well, wilderness adventurers on snowmobiles will have to stick to marked trails, and not stray into the protected lands. According to scientists, the engine noise scares female caribou, who sometimes lose their offspring in their haste to escape.

Wolves in the region may also be sterilized to reduce the number of predators, while a handful of caribou will be transplanted from larger to smaller herds to help boost their overall numbers.

"We've got a very good moderate approach," said Minister Bell, happy that both environmentalists and forestry firms support the government's three-million-dollar plan to implement and inform tourists of the new rules over the next three years.

Rob Duncan, a forestry specialist of the Sierra Club of Canada, commented: "We support this plan because according to the best scientists this will enable the caribou herds to survive."

He lamented, however, that British Columbia province has no legislation to protect 1,376 species at risk of extinction in the province, including the mountain caribou.

"We can't continue to fight on a species-by-species basis," he explained.

In the United States, the mountain caribou that cross the border from Canada are protected under the federal Endangered Species Act, but no similar law exists in British Columbia.
« Last Edit: October 26, 2007, 06:29:44 am by Bianca2001 » Report Spam   Logged

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