Land conservation policies put industry in the provinces, from oil fields in Alberta to mines and forestry in Quebec, in a situation where they are proverbially locking antlers with the caribou in a battle for land.
Quebec premier François Legault, at a news conference on Tuesday afternoon, said there ought to be a “balance” between saving the caribou and protecting jobs, and pointed to the work of an independent commission studying the caribou as a sign of the province’s progress on the matter.
The Quebec chapter of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, a nonprofit, has taken the federal government to court more than once for flouting provisions in the Species at Risk Act, including those related to the caribou. The group warned the government last November that it would go to court again to force the federal government to act to protect the caribou.
“Because we won all our cases, I think they’re taking the lead to start all the processes that are necessary to put the safety net order in place,” said Alain Branchaud, the chapter’s director.
Further west, in Alberta, a lack of habitat conservation clears paths for wolves, predators of the caribou, which has in turn caused an overreliance on culling the wolves, said Carolyn Campbell, the conservation director at the Alberta Wilderness Association.
Wolf culls now happen in half of Alberta’s caribou ranges. “That’s a really drastic and kind of terrible reflection on our society’s choices, that we’re now scapegoating predators,” she said.