ATIKOKAN Mayor Dennis Brown has publicly stated that in recent years it has been shown species like caribou thrive in areas where forests have been harvested. I am not sure where he got his information.
To date, the delays in policy direction of woodland caribou versus wood harvesting is because the jury is still out on the effects of logging has on woodland caribou. Mayor Brown should share his “studies” and conclusions on woodland caribou habitat requirements with the public and how he came to these conclusions.
There has not been a caribou seen seen in the Atikokan area for 100 years or more. Logging in the Atikokan area has changed the landscape and forest composition since logging first occurred at least 80 years or more ago. The most recent discovery of caribou in the area was the antlers dug up by mining during the development of Steep Rock mines some 60 years ago. Prior to logging, Woodland caribou were common in the northwest of the province.
Woodland caribou require a specific forest cover to maintain their populations and thrive. Government studies in Alberta have shown that activities such as logging, oil exploration and other man-made disturbances have had drastic reductions in caribou populations.
Most of us would like to live in harmony with our natural environments, but there comes a time when human activities have negative effects on wildlife populations. In caribou populations in western Canada, it has become a dire situation where man-made activities are causing the extinction of some caribou populations.
If you live north of Ignace or Sioux Lookout and have seen a caribou in a cutover, I would suggest you are seeing it because the forest has been removed which it requires to exist. That caribou you have seen is likely to die.
The narrative of caribou habitat versus our economy is a false argument. There is no shortage of wood supply in Northwestern Ontario. Since the last recession of 2008. at least 12 or more major forest operations have shut down. Those industies have not returned. The sustainable wood supply for those now defunct industries did not disappear. It is still in tact, going to those companies still operating.
Those industries that weathered the recession now have ample wood supplies. To set aside habitat for an indigenous wildlife species or watch it go extinct is the dilemma we now face.
With the new Ford Conservative government reviewing the endangered species act, it does not bode well for our wildlife natural resources. A buck is a buck no matter what the cost, that is the conservative way.
Woodland caribou were named woodland caribou for a reason. They require a specific woodland habitat which is disappearing at an alarming rate. It takes at least 60 to 80 years to replace that habitat.
Mayor Dennis Brown and others like him need to look at the more credible information out there.