B.C. rejects open-pit mine in caribou habitat. Is this a shift for endangered species? – by Ainslie Cruickshank (The Narwhal – January 10, 2023)

The Narwhal

Southern mountain caribou in B.C. are increasingly rare. Rarer still is a mine project rejected under the province’s environmental assessment process. Yet, that’s just what happened to the Sukunka coal mine proposed by Swiss mining giant Glencore in the Peace River region of northeast B.C.

The mine — which would have operated over a lifespan of 20 years and generated 1.5 to 2.5 million tonnes of metallurgical coal each year from six open pits — was soundly rejected in December, primarily due to its impacts on the endangered Quintette caribou herd.

Read more

Agnico Eagle not doing its part to protect migrating caribou, says Nunavut government (CBC News North – November 8, 2022)


Territorial government asks feds to investigate, says company not meeting obligations at Meadowbank mine

The Nunavut government says Agnico Eagle Mines has reneged on some of its promises to protect migrating caribou near the company’s Meadowbank gold mine complex.

According to the territory’s Environment department, the mining company has failed several times to close roads at the complex when migrating caribou were nearby. That violates the company’s permits to operate and should be investigated, the Government of Nunavut (GN) says.

Read more

The quest to protect Hudson Bay’s unique coastline, one of Canada’s last, best wild places – by Ivan Semeniuk (Globe and Mail – October 11, 2022)


This spectacular landscape is also a lens through which to view Canada’s conservation challenge

Sam Hunter was not prepared for what he saw one morning this past July when he stepped out of his cabin near the shore of Hudson Bay. It was a living tide of caribou – more than 3,000 large animals moving, grunting, foraging and otherwise fully occupying the landscape.

“There were so many. … They were so loud,” said Mr. Hunter, who lives in Peawanuck on northern Ontario’s Winisk River and has worked as a guide in the area for years. “It’s something that I haven’t seen since I was about 10 years old.” The timing could not have been better.

Read more

Feds slammed at Nunavut land use hearing, critics say it favours development over caribou protection – by Jane George (CBC News North – September 28, 2022)


‘These grounds are sacred and need to be respected and protected,’ says Katie Rasmussen

The federal government received pointed criticism for its position on caribou protection under the draft Nunavut Land Use Plan during its presentation Tuesday in Thompson, Man.

Questions from those at the Nunavut Planning Commission hearing saw Spencer Dewar, director of resource management for Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada, defending the federal government’s position on mineral development, existing rights and conservation under the land use plan.

Read more

Environmentalists not fans of Ottawa and Queen’s Park’s caribou protection plans – by Staff (Northern Ontario Business – May 5, 2022)


Groups call federal environment minister’s collaboration with the province a “betrayal” of a promise to protect caribou habitat

A joint federal and provincial commitment to revive the boreal caribou population in Northern Ontario doesn’t go far enough for some conservation and environmental groups.

A news release penned by the David Suzuki Foundation, Ontario Nature, Ecojustice and the Wildlands League said the new agreement will “do more harm than good” for the threatened species which roams mostly in Ontario’s Far North. They collectively say the agreement contains no real commitments or targets to protect or restore caribou habitat.

Read more

Canada has a quarter of world’s soil carbon. Keeping it in the ground could curb climate change, experts say – by Inayat Singh and Alice Hopton (CBC News Science – November 10, 2021)


Canada has 384 billion tonnes carbon stored in peatland and other soils, new study has found

Canada stores about a quarter of the world’s soil carbon, according to a new study that puts a spotlight on the country’s role in protecting that carbon to help prevent further climate change.

Those carbon-rich soils are found especially in peatland: boggy wetlands in northern Ontario and parts of Manitoba that are filled with accumulated plant matter that’s been collecting over thousands of years.

Read more

Could an Indigenous conservation area in Hudson Bay also be the key to saving carbon-rich peatlands? – by Inori Roy (The Narwhal – November 6, 2021)

The Narwhal

The Mushkegowuk Council has been pushing to protect the area in northern Ontario — a major carbon sink the size of Portugal — for decades

Lawrence Martin can’t put a date on when he first heard community Elders call for conservation efforts in James Bay and Hudson Bay — but the interest goes as far back as he can remember.

Read more

Modelling threats to caribou in Ontario’s Ring of Fire – by Claire Farrell (Canadian Geographic – October 26, 2021)


For caribou in the far north region of Ontario, there are storm clouds gathering. A recent analysis published in the Journal of Wildlife Management, which I helped to coauthor, projected possible population declines of anywhere from 17 to 30 per cent for northern caribou over the next 50 years.

There are two major factors behind this decline: climate change and expanding resource development, including a race to develop the mineral-rich Ring of Fire area in the Hudson Bay lowlands. These factors will combine to make life a lot more difficult for caribou in multiple ways.

Read more

Conservationists cheer latest proposal to protect land in Nunavut – by David Venn (Nunatsiaq News – July 20, 2021)


The Nunavut Planning Commission’s new proposal for what parts of the territory should be protected from industrial activity is getting some early approval from World Wildlife Fund Canada.

That’s because the new draft of a land-use plan for the territory identifies more caribou and walrus calving areas and marks them as off limits year-round.

Specifically, the government uses Inuit traditional knowledge and a study from the Qikiqtaaluk Wildlife Board to mark calving grounds on Baffin Island, and these areas would be protected for the first time.

Read more

Northwest First Nations protest provincial caribou strategy – by Ian Ross (Northern Ontario Business – May 29, 2019)


Red Rock Chief won’t be “force-fed” conservation plan that jeopardizes development, threatens communities

The province’s rollout of a woodland caribou recovery strategy in northwestern Ontario threatens the gains made by First Nations in natural resource development, said the chief of the Red Rock Indian Band.

Matthew Dupuis and a group of protesters were taking to the road to delay traffic on the Trans-Canada Highway at the Nipigon Bridge on May 29.

They take issue with Ontario’s Woodland Caribou Conservation Plan to create corridors for woodland caribou that they say is potentially devastating to communities and industry along the north shore of Lake Superior.

Read more

Caribou protection plan generates protests among northern residents – by Vaughn Palmer (The Province – April 2019)


Folks in the northeast have their doubts. “Caribou consultations: Are they already a foregone conclusion?” as the headline in the Dawson Creek Mirror put it last week.

VICTORIA — The NDP government’s rush-job consultations on a caribou protection plan have generated protests among northeast residents fearing for jobs and feeling left out of the process.

Provincial officials spent almost a year consulting on the plan with the federal government and local First Nations, all the while excluding other local governments and residents from knowing what was in the works.

Forests and Lands Minister Doug Donaldson finally took the wraps off the plan in late March, leaving by his own admission a mere five weeks to gather feedback via public consultations.

Read more

Environmental groups call on federal government to protect caribou in northern Ontario – by Nicole Thompson (Canadian Press/Global News – November 14, 2018)


TORONTO — Three environmental groups are calling on the federal government to protect boreal caribou in northern Ontario, saying a decade of mismanagement by the province has put the animals increasingly at risk.

The David Suzuki Foundation, Ontario Nature and the Wildlands League issued a petition to Environment Minister Catherine McKenna this week, requesting that she recommend federal cabinet issue what’s known as a “safety net order” under the Species at Risk Act for two boreal caribou populations about 120 kilometres northwest of Thunder Bay.

The move would prevent damage to or destruction of 65 per cent of the caribou populations’ habitats — the amount of undisturbed land that the federal government said in a 2012 report would give the animals a 60 per cent shot at becoming self-sustaining.

Read more

Rejection of controversial project ‘a pretty hard blow,’ says Yukon miner (CBC News North – July 19, 2018)


Second application to mine claims near Judas Creek rejected for Yukon miner

Nicolai Goeppel said he’s ready to throw in the towel after his second attempt to operate a placer mine south of Whitehorse was rejected by the Yukon government. “I really don’t know if it’s worth putting any more money and time into it,” Goeppel said.

Goeppel’s initial application for a placer mine in the Judas Creek area was rejected by the government in 2016, largely because of a potential negative impact on the Carcross caribou herd.

His second application reduced the number of claims to be mined from 45 to 15, the period of mining was reduced from 10 years to five years, and the timing of the operations was adjusted to minimize impact on the caribou.

Read more

NEWS RELEASE: Ontario Alliance of First Nations and Non-First Nations asks Feds to Hit the Pause Button on Species at Risk Policy (May 9, 2018)

May 9th, 2018 – An Alliance of First Nation and non-First Nation leaders in Ontario are concerned about the potential social, economic and environmental impacts of species at risk (SAR) policy being developed by the Federal Government and the current direction being proposed for managing and conserving caribou.

Al Spacek, President of FONOM and Mayor of Kapuskasing commented, “The Ontario Government has taken these concerns very seriously and have committed to achieving a better understanding of the impacts of climate change on species at risk, the cumulative impacts of all species at risk on a broad, dynamic landscape, and a much better appreciation of the socio-economic impacts on our communities.

However, delivering on this commitment will take time and we remain very concerned that the window of opportunity being provided by the Ontario Government is now being placed in jeopardy by our Federal Government.”

Read more

Forestry exemption extended under ESA – by Len Gillis (Timmins Daily Press – May 4, 2018)


TIMMINS – An exemption under the Endangered Species Act that allowing forestry to maintain current operations has been extended by the province for another two years.

Ontario Minister of Natural Resources Nathalie Des Rosiers, who was in Timmins briefly this week, said she is encouraged by that. She said the effort will now be made to achieving a balance — protecting the habitat of woodland caribou while continuing to provide wood fibre to the forest industry.

Des Rosier did not offer any specific solution to that, but said a newly-formed roundtable is charged with finding several solutions.  “Yesterday (Tuesday), I had a really good roundtable in Hearst with different partners in the forestry industry,” Des Rosiers said in a brief interview with The Daily Press this week.

Read more