Woodland caribou in British Columbia are an important part of the province’s natural ecosystem and rich biodiversity.
Unfortunately, their numbers have dwindled significantly due in part to people encroaching their habitat.
“The southern mountain caribou situation is actually pretty dire,” Clayton Lamb, a UBC Okanagan wildlife biologist, told Global News on Tuesday.
“Almost six or seven herds have been extirpated,” Lamb said.
However, the provincial government is hoping to protect and preserve B.C.’s caribou by funding a number of habitat restoration projects.
As part of that effort, the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation has announced funding for seven caribou habitat restoration projects to the tune of just over $1 million.
“We really rely on that Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation money,” Lamb said of the funding. “It’s a key part of our budget every year.”
Currently, there are about 3,500 caribou in B.C.’s southern mountain group.
And that’s why the provincial government has dedicated $47 million over three years to build a comprehensive, science-based approach to protect and preserve B.C.’s 54 different caribou herds.
The aim is to restoring the iconic Canadian species to a sustainable population.
“If a road has been built, what the experts will do is remove parts of the road,” said Dan Buffet, CEO of the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation.
According to Buffet, the approved projects will focus on mitigating man’s encroachment upon caribou habitat
“We’re trying to remove and recover the scars on the landscape that have been created over time and allow nature to take its course,” Buffet said.
That approach, says Lamb, will eventually pay dividends when it comes to restoring caribou populations.
“The root of all the recent caribou problems is really this habitat disturbance problem,” Lamb said.