Caribou threatened: the forestry industry proposes to bet on hunting predators

To preserve caribou, the Forest Industry Council (CIFQ) suggests prioritizing predator hunting, such as wolves and bears, before closing logging roads at great expense.

Our Parliamentary Office has obtained the brief from representatives of the timber industry to be presented to the Independent Commission on Woodland and Mountain Caribou.

Recall that the Legault government has postponed the filing of its plan to ensure the survival of this threatened species, preferring to create this body which has held a series of consultations over the past two months.

The caribou are in decline in Quebec. Some populations are particularly vulnerable, such as the Charlevoix herd, which has 16 individuals, and the Val-d’Or herd, with only seven animals left. These two herds now live in enclosures.

“CIFQ members are greatly concerned about the caribou situation. Through their actions, they have contributed and want to continue to contribute to the establishment of lasting solutions to protect the caribou,” says the 50-page document.

Losses for the industry

Foresters do not hide, however, that the survival of this emblematic animal of Quebec has a considerable impact on their industry. The measures already in place to protect the habitat of this endangered species result in a “loss of economic activity of the order of approximately $150 million annually”, it is specified.

The proliferation of logging roads and deforestation have contributed over the years to reducing the quality of woodland caribou habitat. And predators happily take advantage of these sparse forests.

The government already has recourse to the trapping of wolves which threaten the Charlevoix caribou herd. Targeted helicopter killing of predators has also been used in Abitibi-Témiscamingue to protect the remaining deer population.

The lumber industry believes in tracking down wolves, coyotes and bears, in particular by collaborating with certain Aboriginal communities that hold exclusive hunting and trapping rights.

“The CIFQ recommends prioritizing predator management measures to reduce early caribou mortality, before considering costly and highly disadvantageous road dismantling measures.”

The use of maternity pens to protect pregnant females is also a way to prioritize for the next five years, we suggest in the brief.

Intensive production areas

To compensate for the areas reserved for the preservation of caribou habitat, the industry is asking to be able to carry out intensive forest production on territories closer to the factories.

“The forest industry does not need square kilometers to produce the different products that meet market needs, but rather cubic meters. The development of forestry practiced in a more dynamic way combined with an intensification of the budgets linked to silvicultural work would make it possible, in the long term, to obtain the same volumes on smaller areas,” the document pleads.

The CIFQ points out that the protection of caribou must not hide its social and economic impact. “The vitality of nearly 900 municipalities in Quebec depends directly or indirectly on the forest industry”, which will be the main one affected by the decisions that will be made.

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