On Nov. 9, 2017 the Houston Snowmobile club had an meeting where a stewardship management agreement was signed by Tony Plev, director of the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations (MOFLNRO), Shea Long, president of the Houston Snowmobile club, witnessed by Dennis Tait, counsellor for the District of Houston, to protect caribou in the Skeena Region.
In September 2017, MOFLNRO presented at the District of Houston council meeting proposed restrictions on the Telkwa range to offset the caribou decline.
Recreation is an influence on northern caribou in the Telkwa range, and has been identified as a threat to caribou populations due to displacement from high-quality habitat and an increase in predator access.
According to MOFLNRO, there are approximately 22 caribou accounted for in the Telkwa range, which are continually at risk of local extinction.
“One of the best ways to achieve lasting conservation outcomes is for groups to get together and find common ground by creating innovative solutions to protect wildlife,” said Doug Donaldson, Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development. “Staff in my ministry and the Houston Snowmobile club are demonstrating the value of a collaboration-based approach.”
The agreement outlines the Houston Snowmobile club’s and MOFLNRO shared roles and responsibilities in the recreational riding area.
“The parties will work together to ensure that snowmobiling activities do not affect caribou,” said MOFLNRO. “This includes closing certain areas to recreation when there are caribou present and minimizing the influence of recreation by promoting best-management practices to visiting and resident snowmobilers.”
The agreement also provides information on how MOFLNRO and the Houston Snowmobile club will work together to continually keep each other informed about activities related to the Telkwa caribou herd.
“This agreement is a companion document to the proposed Recreation Management Plan for the Telkwa Mountains, which outlines the areas proposed to be designated for recreation use and those for caribou habitat,” said MOFLNRO.
The Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations said that the province has created a five-pillared management plan to address all potential causes of caribou population decline.
This pillar includes habitat protection, population monitoring, recreation management and engaging with communities.
“The Houston Snowmobile club is happy to have worked with local biologists and government staff to achieve this agreement that provides snowmobiling opportunities while protecting caribou,” said Auston.
For more information about the Telkwa caribou recovery effort, visit their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/Telkwa-Caribou-Recovery-458801530905180/