MISE & Agrave; DAY
After decades of the slow disappearance of the caribou, Quebec is still launching consultations rather than deciding on its future, denounce specialists and activists, who fear the disappearance of three herds.
“The woodland caribou is the canary in the mine. If he has problems supporting the logging that is done in the boreal forest, it may be that many other species are also endangered or have disappeared ”, worries Serge Couturier, biologist. who worked for the Ministry of Forests, Wildlife and Parks (MFFP) for 27 years.
Our Bureau of Investigation obtained exclusive images of the last caribou of the Val-d'Or herd, which the MFFP put into enclosures in March 2020 to protect them. We can see them in the documentary Defender our forests, broadcast on VRAI. & Nbsp; & nbsp; & nbsp;
The seven caribou of Val d'Or live on a territory surrounded by huge black fences.
The seven caribou are fed in feeders and live in an area surrounded by huge fences (see below). These survivors in their enclosure have become the sad emblem of the loss of our biodiversity, destroyed little by little by the forestry industry in particular. & Nbsp;
Let us be reduced to locking up these wild beasts because 'we did not know how to protect them before sorry for scientists and activists. Especially since the caribou of Charlevoix and Gaspésie should also find themselves in captivity shortly.
For Mr. Couturier, these three herds isolated from other caribou in Quebec are “in great danger of imminent disappearance ”. & nbsp; & nbsp;
“In the past, we met with the Minister of Forests to tell him to act quickly in Val-d'Or, because there were 20 caribou at the time,” explains Couturier. But they didn't do anything and there are only seven left. Chances are they're so bad and aging that they can't even reproduce. ”
Serge Couturier is a biologist who worked for the Ministry of Forests, Wildlife and Parks (MFFP) for 27 years.
Their decline is mainly caused by the loss of their habitat due to the forest industry (logging, developed paths), but also by human activity, the increasing presence of predators, including bears and wolves, and climate change. . & nbsp;
Researchers reported the decline of Charlevoix caribou in 2020 highlighting “a decrease of more than 50%” between 2017 and 2019. The herd now numbers between 19 and 23 animals.
Still no plan submitted
Despite everything, the long-awaited new plan or strategy to curb the disappearance of the beast has still not been tabled by the ministry.
Quebec instead entrusted, this fall, a mandate for regional consultations. to an independent commission with no caribou expert. & nbsp;
The delays that stretch before implementing concerted measures are denounced by the experts and activists interviewed. They hope that Quebec imposes a better balance between cutting and preserving biodiversity.
Otherwise, “one day, the only caribou that will remain in Quebec will be on our 25 cents”, s alarm Mr. Couturier. & nbsp;
“The woodland caribou is in a precarious state, its situation is getting worse and the government authorities are postponing decisions that are not always easy to take, but in which they are committed,” regrets Louis Bélanger, forestry engineer and co-head of the commission. Forêt de Nature Québec. & Nbsp;
The Minister of Forests, Pierre Dufour, assures us that Quebec plans to deliver a strategy in 2023 for the protection of the caribou and its habitat, but that by then, consultations are necessary. & nbsp;
“We want to have the economically independent portrait, with the impacts on forestry capacity and without the impacts on forestry capacity. That's what we do a commission for, he said. We also want to verify [the impact of] climate change. “
For the moment, Quebec seems to favor the enclosure over any other means of protection. These were supposed to be temporary, but seem to become a permanent solution.
Creation of dying?
“Is there a plan to reintroduce these animals into the wild? Currently there is nothing. Are we creating caribou dwellings, a place where we will park the caribou until they die? “Asks Mr. Couturier. & Nbsp;
It’s not a bad thing to explore in and of itself, experts say. As long as it is temporary, time to rebuild the caribou population and then release it. But Mr. Couturier and other experts doubt that the caribou of Val-d'Or are able to reproduce to do so. & Nbsp;
In an email, the MFFP confirms that “all caribou de Charlevoix will be placed in an enclosure ”in 2022. & nbsp; & nbsp;
“As for the herd of around 40 caribou counted in 2019 in the Gaspé, the pregnant females will be captured in their natural environment and transported to the enclosures for calving and the first months of life of the fawns. They will then return to the natural environment for the breeding season, ”writes the MFFP, noting that it is possible that the caribou will be in captivity for longer.
Quebec has locked up the last caribou of the Val herd -gold & nbsp;
Exclusive images allow us to take stock of the slow disappearance of woodland caribou
In this image we can see (from left to right) the observation tower, the enclosure door (in red) and one of the feeders.
Those believed to be the last woodland caribou of the Val-D'Or herd now live in a 14-hectare enclosure. They feed on feed in feeders made available to them. & Nbsp;
The Bureau of Investigation has found rare images of caribou. The Ministry of Forests, Wildlife and Parks (MFFP) put them in enclosures in March 2020 in an attempt to preserve them. The caribou of Charlevoix and Gaspésie should experience the same fate in the coming months. & Nbsp;
These images taken from above, captured in 2020, are presented in the documentary Defender our forests , available on the Vrai platform. & Nbsp;
Photo credit: Gary Gulash
The Subdivisions & nbsp; & nbsp;
The enclosure consists of two main sub-enclosures. If necessary, two secondary sub-enclosures are designed to isolate caribou. Spaces are also planned to restrain caribou and provide veterinary care. & Nbsp;
The fences are made of metal; game type posts and trellis. A geotextile membrane wraps around the fences to prevent caribou from seeing outside, thus limiting their acclimatization with humans. The fence is electrified from the outside to ward off predators.
The fences are constructed of metal; game type posts and trellis.
Inside the enclosures there are mostly spruce trees. There are also some deciduous trees and other coniferous species. These trees are usually found in the caribou environment.
The pen was used in 2014 and 2015 to house pregnant females. A renovation was done in order to welcome the herd in 2020.
How were the caribou captured? The beasts were located by helicopter and caught with net throwers, then airlifted.
Only MFFP overseers and biologists may approach the enclosure. & Nbsp;
“The Department wishes to preserve a peaceful environment for the caribou and prevent their impregnation. Multiplying visitors in their environment would generate a form of taming, which is contraindicated, ”indicates the MFFP.
Two other fenced places planned & nbsp; & nbsp; ;
The enclosure in Gaspésie
Fall 2021 : Teams are busy clearing and building fences as well as access paths to the enclosures. & nbsp;
End of winter 2022 : It is planned to capture pregnant females in their natural environment & nbsp;
Size: About 15 hectares & nbsp;
The enclosure in Charlevoix & nbsp;
December 15, 2021 : End planned construction of the enclosure & nbsp; & nbsp;
Winter 2022 : All the caribou of the Charlevoix herd will be placed in a protective enclosure. & nbsp;
Size: About 20 hectares
Observation tower & nbsp; & nbsp;
Caribou are watched from this observation tower for a minimum of 4 hours a day.
A guard provides a minimum of 4 hours of surveillance per day, according to the ministry. Posted at the top of an observation tower that allows him to see over the fence, he counts the caribou present and checks that they are well. & Nbsp;
The supervisor is also responsible for feeding the caribou in the enclosure. Peace of mind around the place is important. We try to disturb as little as possible the newborn with fragile health. During the visit to our Investigation Office, the team made sure to limit noise and movement around.
A wildlife technician and a biologist make between one and two visits per week. A veterinarian also visits the site regularly.
Feeders & nbsp; & nbsp;
Caribou have access to plenty of food and water, including lichen, hay and feed. This is a pellet style feed specially designed for deer. This food – or a very similar feed – was used for caribou by zoos. The feeders can be found near the gate of the pen.
The feeders can be found near the gate of the pen. Caribou can feed and drink there.
A protected animal
The woodland caribou has been protected as a threatened species across Canada since May 2003. In Quebec, it was in 2005 that it was granted the status of vulnerable species. The Ministère des Forêts, de la Faune et des Parcs has the mandate to protect all endangered wildlife species.
Our interactive map: 20 years of logging in Quebec & nbsp ; & nbsp;
Data compiled by our Bureau of Inquiry shows the extent of the cuts from 2000 to 2019. See the impact near you.
Forestry remains an important pillar of the Quebec economy today. Even if we no longer cut like in the 80s and 90s, some experts still wonder about our way of cutting and the planning of our forests for the future. & Nbsp;
The data listed by our Office survey show the extent of the cuts in the last 20 years (see the interactive map below). & nbsp;
The Chief Forester, Louis Pelletier, announced in the last few days an increase of 3 % of allowable cuts in Quebec for 2023-2028. & nbsp;
This scientist appointed by the Council of Ministers, who ensures that we do not cut more than what the forest can give us, indicates that there is no “forest overexploitation in Quebec”. The fact remains that many issues exist, in particular as regards the fragmentation of the territory and the thorny question of replanting. & Nbsp;
– In collaboration with Dominique Cambron-Goulet