Letter: Emergency order needed if BC fails to implement plans for recovery of southern mountain caribou

Monday, June 17, 2019

The Honourable Catherine McKenna
Minister of Environment and Climate Change Canada
Email: ec.ministre-minister.ec@canada.ca

Re: SARA Section 80(2) order if B.C. fails to implement Agreements for recovery of endangered southern mountain caribou.
Dear Minister Catherine McKenna,

We write to you on behalf of the Wilderness Committee, Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative and Greenpeace to support a federal government decision to recommend an emergency protection order under section 80(2) of SARA to protect southern mountain caribou, if B.C. fails to approve and implement the Partnership Agreement and Conservation Agreement (“the Agreements”) for the recovery of endangered southern mountain caribou by the last federal cabinet meeting in June 2019. 

In May 2018 you made the determination that there is an imminent threat to the recovery of endangered southern mountain caribou. This announcement ensured B.C. continued to engage in meaningful negotiations with First Nations and Canada, resulting in the Agreements to recover southern mountain caribou.

The public engagement period for these plans, released on March 25th 2019, was extended by 37 days to May 31, 2019. We believe that engaging with all community stakeholders is an important component of developing an effective caribou recovery strategy. We also expect Canada to ensure that this process is not an excuse for B.C. to delay necessary commitments to the timely implementation of the shared recovery objectives in the Agreements. 

The imminent threat assessment states that “immediate intervention is required to allow for eventual recovery”. We agree that delays in implementing the plan would result in the continued downward spiral for at-risk caribou herds and their eventual extinction. We cannot return to the failed strategies of successive governments at all levels to delay immediate meaningful actions to recover caribou through planning, while the destruction of critical habitat continues.

Therefore, we support and urge to you stand by your June 3, 2019 statement to recommend an emergency protection order during the last federal cabinet meeting before the 2019 election, if B.C. has not come to a decision to implement the Agreements. As it has been determined that southern mountain caribou are facing imminent threats to recovery, section 80(2) of SARA requires the Minister to recommend that cabinet issue an emergency order to protect southern mountain caribou habitat. Further delays in implementing the shared recovery objectives of the Agreements would be a sufficient signal that the B.C. has failed to proceed with the plans in a timely and genuine matter. 

We thank you for your work to move this file forward and your role in ensuring the provinces and territories are fulfilling commitments under the federal SARA. We look forward to finally seeing plans and effective on the ground action to protect and recover southern mountain caribou, whether that is through the Agreements, or through an emergency order.

The planet is now in the Sixth Great Extinction, and B.C. is home to the largest number of at-risk species in Canada. The province now has the dubious distinction of being a focal point for species at risk recovery in Canada and the actions that follow these historic Agreements will set a precedent for the rest of the country. We welcome the leadership of Canada, First Nations, and B.C. as you take the next steps in ensuring southern mountain caribou will one day be abundant and secure.


Charlotte Dawe,
Wilderness Committee

Tim Burkhart,
Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative 

Eduardo Sousa,

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