Boreal Caribous are significant in ecological and cultural aspects of Northwest territories. The status of their population reflects the health and biodiversity of the boreal ecosystem, research says.
The subspecies are one of the distinct caribou populations in British Columbia, and across Canada, that faces a significant decline as industrial developments move north. However, BC Oil and Gas Commission (OGC) has reportedly suppressed the companies that frack for natural gas repeatedly broke the rules intended to protect threatened Boreal Caribou.
Acquired by the Canadian Center for Policy Alternatives (CCPA), the leaked document highlights OGC’s slipshod management of fossil fuel companies. Prepared by an independent professional biologist for the commission, the record is an audit that shows natural gas companies failed to comply with a “recovery plan” made by British Columbia’s environment ministry in 2011.
The “recovery plan” was designed to protect the Boreal Caribou as a response to its record as threatened species in Canada, officially listed by the federal government.
British Columbia’s “recovery plan” for Boreal Caribou targets fossil fuel companies to follow new “Interim Operating Practices” to protect the subspecies. However, through the audit that was concealed by the OGC, it was discovered that the industries frequently violated numerous rules.
Via press release, the evidence shows that the industries built gas-drilling pads well more than what they were supposed to and expanded the size of already excessively large drilling pads. The companies also allowed the predators, specifically wolves, to see the Boreal Caribou from miles away by constructing roads and pipeline corridors without barriers to break up sightlines. The most alarming, companies have fragmented critical habitat for the species failing to restore or rehabilitate industrial sites.
A leading environmental organization of the province said that the audit’s evidence of non-compliance of industries is troubling and the OGC’s failure to do anything. Nevertheless, the organization says that the more significant concern is that the recovery plan itself is weak.
Sierra Club BC campaigns director Caitlyn Vernon suggests that improving the recovery plan for the threatened species is a must, not only in the boreal zone but throughout the province from the far south to the far north.