The governments of Quebec and Canada say they are now on the same page about the province’s caribou population, while offering few details.
In a press release released Monday, officials from both levels of government say they are “confident of reaching an agreement for the maintenance, protection and restoration of woodland caribou on Quebec territory.”
The caribou has been recognized as a vulnerable species in Quebec since 2005.
According to the most recent figures, there are 5,252 woodland or mountain caribou remaining in the province. There are only seven left in Val-d’Or and the Charlevoix and Gaspé herds are on the verge of extinction.
The two levels of government have clashed in the past over caribou, with the Canadian government accusing Quebec of not doing enough to protect the species.
Federal Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault had previously threatened to impose measures under the Species at Risk Act, a provision that has never been used before in Canada.
This would have seen the federal government take over approximately 35,000 square kilometres, or 2.3% of the entire territory of Quebec, to protect the species.
Quebec Premier Francois Legault said Quebec should retain exclusive provincial jurisdiction over woodland caribou management.
According to the press release, Quebec will move forward with the protection of certain caribou habitats, as Canada suggests, “with the financial support of the federal government”.
But some criticize the news as being big on promises and light on details. The Nature and Parks Society (SNAP Quebec) criticized what it called “allegedly significant progress” announced on Monday.
“We welcome the willingness of both governments to work together to find solutions to a complex conservation issue,” the group said in a statement released Monday. “However, there is no concrete progress in what is announced today.”
Quebec has indicated that it will invest $12 million in short-term measures to protect caribou, in addition to the additional $6 million offered by the government.
The province also plans to release a caribou conservation strategy, which will be released in June of next year.