MOBERLY LAKE, BRITISH COLUMBIA -- (Marketwired) -- 06/10/13 -- This morning, West Moberly First Nations unveiled a precedent setting plan to save the Klinse-za caribou herd from the brink of extinction. The plan follows the requirements of Canada's Species at Risk Act and aims to boost the herd's numbers from 23 to over 650 within the next 21 years.
"To our knowledge, this is the first time that a First Nation has ever drafted an Action Plan that meets the strict standards set out in the Species At Risk Act. Once adopted, this plan will be a historic achievement both for First Nations and for caribou conservation," said West Moberly Chief Roland Willson.
Produced collaboratively with respected caribou scientist, Dr. Scott McNay, the plan combines cutting edge science with a wealth of First Nations' traditional knowledge. The plan also balances recovery efforts with sustainable resource development.
"We want to hear from everyone. We know we can't do this alone. That's why we've hired experts like Dr. McNay, worked closely with government scientists, and are looking to key stakeholders and the general public for their comments as well," said Willson.
A sixty-day public comment period began today. The draft Klinse-za Action Plan can be found online at: http://www.treaty8.bc.ca/releases/20130610.php. All comments must be sent before August 9th and by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
First Nations Elders say that prior to the construction of the WAC Bennett dam in the 1960s, there was a "sea of caribou", with herds so massive they were "like bugs" on the landscape. Due to the habitat loss and upset predator/prey dynamics caused by decades of unsustainable resource development, caribou in the entire south Peace region now number only 1100 and are in rapid decline.
West Moberly declared a moratorium in the early 1970s and hasn't hunted the species since. In 2011, the First Nation won a groundbreaking victory at the BC Court of Appeal, which took the BC government to task for not addressing impacts from coal mining on another south Peace caribou herd then numbering just 11. The victory prompted BC to publish its own caribou plan, but the plan has been widely criticized for an over-reliance on wolf culling and for falling short of Species at Risk Act requirements related to habitat protection and First Nations traditional knowledge.
West Moberly First Nations
Chief Roland Willson
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