Despite declarations by special interest environmental groups that there is a caribou crisis in Ontario, a review of Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) research, scientific evidence, and an assessment of all available and up-to-date data demonstrates that caribou populations are persisting in Ontario.
Jamie Lim, President and CEO of OFIA, explained, “Considering the information contained in the OFIA Woodlands Committee’s Op-Ed, we are asking Government to hit the pause button and review all new and existing woodland caribou policy in Ontario.”
Even though the caribou is the most abundant wild hoofed animal in Canada, it has been divided into ecotypes. It is the ‘forest dwelling’ woodland caribou ecotype that is listed as threatened in Ontario. Testing the ecotype theory has been a massive research effort, with more than 50 projects being conducted by MNRF scientists and biologists, supported by academics and the forest industry.
Christine Leduc, Director of Forest Conservation, said, “This considerable research effort has not yielded evidence to support the ecotype theory in Ontario. With close to 600 caribou tracked, up to 125 people involved and after 11 million dollars, the MNRF now has an inventory of where caribou roam in Ontario. This data should be used to review the ecotype differentiation and adjust the caribou range boundaries.”
OFIA’s op-ed explains:
1. MNRF’s surveys confirm that the recession of caribou range in Ontario has been minimal or non-existent over the last several decades. The majority of the core range occupied since the 1950s is still occupied today.
2. Caribou populations are persisting in Ontario. The evidence to support having two different ecotypes of Woodland caribou in the province appears weak.
3. Numerous population surveys by MNRF suggest that areas subject to forest management have healthier caribou populations than areas that have been entirely left to nature.
Lim concluded, “Caribou policy must be based on solid, defendable science that is used in balance with both social and economic considerations, especially in light of what is at stake for hardworking families, the North, and Ontario’s renewable natural resource – forestry.”