Protect Endangered Woodland Caribou In North America

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Sponsor: The Rainforest Site

They are one of the most critically endangered mammals in North America. Their habitat in the Boreal Forest must be protected!


Sign the petition to urge the Canadian government to protect the woodland caribou and their habitat in the Boreal Forest! These majestic woodland animals must be given every chance to live and survive!

Woodland caribou populations in North America on the decline, and have been for years. Due to predators like wolves and cougars, along with habitat destruction from encroaching human activities, the population is critically endangered [1]. Nearly a dozen caribou is all that remains in the United States today, and the Canadian population to the north continues to shrink as well.

Canada's Boreal Forest is one of the last great refuges for woodland caribou, but even that is being destroyed by logging, roads and pipelines [2]. The Canadian Department of Natural Resources and Department of the Environment needs to stop the exploitation of the Boreal Forest so woodland caribou can survive and thrive!

The endangered woodland caribou are a protected species under Canada's Species at Risk Act (SARA) [3]. However, deforestation by the lumber industry continues to decimate the caribous' habitat and food. Roads are segmenting the forest, as are pipelines. The continued encroachment of humans on these precious animals' habitat is leading the way for population extinctions [4].

According to the Canadian Government's Species at Risk Public Registry, "habitat condition in the majority of ranges has worsened since 2012. Moreover, the boreal caribou population as a whole has continued to decline. More needs to be done to recover boreal caribou including having robust range plans in place [5]."

Once, caribou could be found living abundantly in the United States from Maine to Washington. Today only a handful survive in the remote regions of northern Idaho [6]. Canadian caribou must not be allowed to suffer the same fate.

We agree wholeheartedly with the Canadian Government's Species at Risk Public Registry's dire assessment of woodland caribou's situation. More must be done to protect the woodland caribou in North America, and that starts with protecting the Canadian Boreal Forest!

MORE ABOUT THIS ISSUE

1. Alberta Environment and Parks. (n.d.). Woodland Caribou (Rangifer tarandus caribou). Retrieved January 05, 2018, from http://aep.alberta.ca/fish-wildlife/wild-species/mammals/deer/woodland-caribou.aspx

2. Lewis, C., & Axelrod, J. (2017, November 06). Climate and Caribou: Canadian Boreal Protection Helps Both. Retrieved January 05, 2018, from https://www.nrdc.org/experts/josh-axelrod/climate-and-caribou-canadian-boreal-protection-helps-both

3. Government of Canada. (2017, October 31). Species at Risk Public Registry - Report on the Progress of Recovery Strategy Implementation for the Woodland Caribou (Rangifer tarandus caribou), Boreal population in Canada for the Period 2012 to 2017. Retrieved January 05, 2018, from http://registrelep-sararegistry.gc.ca/default.asp?lang=En&n=7037FCE4-1

4. Sabourin, C. (2014, April 7). Save the caribou, save the boreal forest, ecologists say. Retrieved January 05, 2018, from https://phys.org/news/2014-04-caribou-boreal-forest-ecologists.html

5. Government of Canada. (n.d.). Recovery Strategy for the Woodland Caribou, Boreal population (Rangifer tarandus caribou) in Canada - Species at Risk Public Registry. Retrieved January 05, 2018, from http://www.registrelep-sararegistry.gc.ca/document/default_e.cfm?documentID=2253

6. Robbins, J. (2016, October 03). America's Gray Ghosts: The Disappearing Caribou. Retrieved January 05, 2018, from https://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/04/science/endangered-caribou-idaho-british-columbia.html

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The Petition:

Canadian Departments of Natural Resources, Canadian Heritage, and the Environment:

Woodland caribou populations are rapidly diminishing in North America, and this decline has been well documented for decades. Many populations are threatened, endangered or critically endangered in Canada. In the United States, nearly a dozen caribou is all that is left of the once thriving population.

The greatest threats to caribou are predators — including wolves, cougars and bears — as well as ever-increasing encroachment by humans. Loss of habitat from logging and deforestation, displacement due to roads and pipelines, hunting and other human actions threaten more and more struggling caribou populations every year.

One of the last great habitats for woodland caribou in North America is the Boreal Forest region of Canada. And while the Species at Risk Act (SARA) has provided some conservation efforts to help protect caribou from extinction, their habitat is being destroyed more each year. If the Boreal Forest is not protected, the decline in caribou populations will increase until they are beyond saving.

"Over the past century, local subpopulations have been lost; range contraction has proceeded from the south by up to 50% of historical range in some areas," according to the 2015 Response Statement - Caribou, Boreal population. "The proliferation of linear landscape features such as roads and seismic lines facilitates predation by wolves, and the conversion of mature — old conifer stands to younger seral stages promotes increases in alternate prey such as Moose and White-tailed Deer. …Threats are closely interrelated and act cumulatively to impact this population."

Not only have predators like wolves been decimating the caribou population for years now, but the construction of roads and pipelines continues to lead more predators to the caribou's territory. Deforestation is leading to the loss of the caribou's habitat and makes it easier for them to become prey.

"The fundamental cause of the caribou decline is the unanticipated ecological consequences of development," according to the New York Times. "For decades, the forest has been fragmented by clear-cutting, road building, oil development and mining."

If the forest region is not protected from further logging and human development, the decline in woodland caribou populations will only increase.

It must not be thought that the Canadian caribou populations will not suffer the same fate as the populations in the United States. Once these majestic and iconic woodland animals are gone, they will be gone forever. The Boreal Forest must become a protected sanctuary for the woodland caribou immediately.

The simple fact is that if the caribou populations are allowed to decline at their current rate, without substantial changes to conservation efforts and habitat protection, they could very well share the same fate as the caribou populations in the United States — extinction.

The 2017 Action Plan for the Woodland Caribou states that "Boreal caribou is an iconic but threatened species in Canada and holds special significance for Indigenous people and other Canadians; its continued decline concerns us all. Boreal caribou is also considered by many to be an indicator of the overall state of Canada's boreal forest ecosystem. The recovery of this species requires unprecedented commitment, collaboration and cooperation among the various groups involved in the conservation of boreal caribou."

I implore you to take that unprecedented commitment to saving the woodland caribou by acting swiftly to protect the Boreal Forest from further deforestation and development. The endangered caribou must be given every chance to repopulate and survive for their own sake and for future generations to come. Please protect the woodland caribou by protecting their habitat. This is a need that cannot wait.

Sincerely,

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Signatures: