There is still time to provide your feedback toward Parks Canada’s caribou conservation proposal, but you have to act fast. The deadline is Friday, Sept. 2.
Jean-François Bisaillon, project manager for the Jasper Caribou Recovery Program, said that there have been more than 200 comments, questions and feedback submissions that have been received from members of the public as of Monday morning.
“That’s pretty good actually,” he said.
Those comments were submitted via the online portal found at www.letstalkmountainparks.ca as well as by email and during the virtual and in-person public input sessions that were held in June.
“We’re really pleased with the level of comments and engagement so far,” Bisaillon said.
The proposal considers the very precarious status of Jasper National Park’s two remaining caribou herds: the Tonquin and Brazeau herds. Combined, they have barely more than a dozen breeding females.
“Without intervention, the Tonquin and Brazeau herds will eventually disappear from Jasper National Park,” reads a statement found on the online portal.
The Maligne herd was considered to be extirpated two years ago after several years of aerial surveys returned with zero sightings.
The proposal comes with a $24-million commitment from the federal government. That funding would go toward the construction and management of an enclosed and fully staffed breeding facility close to the Tonquin Valley.
Female caribou would be relocated there for breeding by 2025. Their first young would ideally be ready for release into the wild the following year.
The proposal is open to all Canadians to contribute feedback on.
Along with those comments from the general public (as well as comments from its Indigenous and stakeholder partners), Parks Canada’s decision will also consider scientific research, the results of a Detailed Impact Assessment and discussions with provincial jurisdictions including both the Government of Alberta and British Columbia, as well as Environment and Climate Change Canada.
“Lots of discussion, lots of engagement about this project. This is pretty exciting,” Bisaillon said, adding that he still hopes that more people will inform themselves about the project and why it is necessary before offering their own comments on both their level of support for it and whether it can be improved.
“The more, the better,” he said. “It’s important to say that these comments will be carefully analyzed. It is really important that we get comments from anyone interested.”
Bisaillon added that a decision would likely be expected later in the autumn.
Scott Hayes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Jasper Fitzhugh