Caribou recovery in Treaty 8 territory

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Sierra Club BC 50 Places Project

Woodland caribou are an ancient part of the fabric of mountain landscapes in BC, but right now their very survival is in doubt.

In the 1960s, the caribou herds in Treaty 8 territory of northeastern BC were hundreds and thousands strong. Local elders speak of a “sea of caribou” moving across the landscape.

Flooding for the W.A.C. Bennett Dam drowned caribou and disrupted migration routes in the Peace River region and the large herds quickly began to disappear. One herd is now locally extinct and more than half of the province’s surviving herds are at risk as a result of clearcutting, open-pit mining, roads and pipelines.

But there is hope for caribou, and Indigenous Nations are leading the way to their recovery.

The Saulteau and West Moberly First Nations have developed the world’s most successful caribou recovery program with the Klinse-Za maternal penning project. They started with just 16 animals in 2014. By 2018, the herd had grown to 80.

This work has not been easy, but for the Nations – who have had a deep relationship with the caribou for millennia – it’s essential to maintain their culture and way of life. A new Partnership Agreement between the Nations and the federal and provincial governments will see hundreds of thousands of hectares of caribou habitat permanently protected.

Sierra Club BC is encouraging BC residents to support the Partnership Agreement by sending a message to the B.C. government. Watch the video above to learn more about the inspiring efforts of the Saulteau and West Moberly First Nations to help caribou thrive once again.

Learn more about endangered caribou with our EcoMap.

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Sierra Club BC’s 50 Places Project celebrates stories of conservation across BC. As Sierra Club BC marks 50 years of conservation work, we raise our hands to the longstanding Indigenous stewards of 50 special places in BC. 

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