Caribou collared in Telkwa Mountains.

Caribou collared in Telkwa Mountains.

Council sends concerns about caribou regulations

Houston mayor and council are sending a letter of input about the proposed Telkwa caribou protections from the Ministry of Forests.

Houston mayor and council are sending a letter of input about the proposed Telkwa caribou protections.

The caribou management plan was proposed by the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations and is up for public review until Dec. 3.

The plan is to protect the estimated 25 caribou left in the Telkwa herd, and includes public education and managing recreation and habitat.

Part of the habitat protection is a proposed 262,000-hectare Wildlife Habitat Area (WHA) in the Telkwa Mountains, which has 178,000 hectares in the Morice TSA.

Houston mayor and council caution the Ministry about “the implementation if this proposed order as it is currently written.”

“We have had a mill closure that our community is struggling to overcome,” says council in their letter.

“We are still awaiting the results of the Competition Bureau investigation [and] we are currently going through a Timber Supply Review, which could potentially decrease the Annual Allowable Cut.”

Council adds that restrictions on the land base are expected with a Government Actions Regulation for biodiversity.

“As the Province works through First Nations title cases, we could also see further reductions in our Timber Supply Area.”

Council says they don’t want the Telkwa herd to die off, but with the herd dwindling under 30 animals, they “question the degree of restrictions outlined in the proposed WHA order.”

They want a review and rationale for why the Biodiversity Order is inadequate for caribou management, and they suggest several edits to the proposed WHA.

The No Timber Harvesting Areas in the Morice Biodiversity Order should not overlap with Telkwa Caribou No Harvest Zones and should count towards the caribou protection targets, said council.

They ask that increased restrictions in early seral targets not constrain harvesting.

Finally, road deactivations should only be allowed for newly constructed roads within one kilometre of no harvest zones, council said.

“We recognize the value of the caribou herd, but we would like to be cautious and not have unnecessary constraints placed on our community and industry.”