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Activists far behind on woodland caribou

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Activists recently have claimed Ontario has not acted to save caribou.

Articles submitted to the Toronto Star are working against the substantial efforts the province, industry, communities and stakeholders have done to study the habitat of caribou in the boreal forest.

These activists conveniently are ignoring more than 20 years of work, 600 tracked animals, and $11 million of government research.

As if it was Groundhog Day, campaign science once again is trying to shut down Ontario's most renewable and sustainable sector, at the expense of 57,000 hard-working men and women in northern and rural communities across this province.

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry's surveys confirm the recession of the caribou range in Ontario has been minimal or non-existent over the last several decades.

The majority of the core range occupied since the 1950s still is occupied today, and the range has been extended significantly along parts of the southern range edge in Northwestern Ontario (compared with the area occupied in the 1950s).

The Dynamic Caribou Habitat Schedule has been in place in forest management plans for more than 20 years and requires that forest managers concentrate harvesting, minimize road densities, implement road decommissioning strategies, and develop approaches to promote conifer species (caribou habitat).

This is consistent with the Caribou Conservation Plan developed by Ontario government and makes management decisions based on the state of caribou ranges.

This places Ontario as a leader within Canada in terms of caribou range research and management.

In Northwestern Ontario, progressive forestry practices for caribou habitat management have been in place since the early 1990s.

Recent data suggest caribou range retraction has ceased within the past few decades and that caribou are returning to previously-harvested areas, suggesting that existing management practices are effective in promoting habitat renewal.

Climate change might be the single greatest threat to caribou habitat yet activists remain largely silent on this.

Instead, they continue to hang their hat on human disturbance—despite an evolved understanding of caribou behaviour and ecosystem management within scientific literature.

You cannot help but connect the dots and realize these groups do not care about the conservation of caribou; they only care about fundraising dollars, putting an end to an industry, and threatening a way of life within our northern communities.

To accuse the forest sector and the MNRF of not taking action on woodland caribou, without an understanding of the current state of science, enormous volume of work completed, and an acknowledgement of the progressive changes to sustainable forest management is an embarrassment.

Our jobs, communities, and way of life irresponsibly are being placed at risk by the lobbying efforts of activists and based on information that is 10 years behind the curve.

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