Notice of permit

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Regional or Local Number: MRGNP-2015-18017

Notice is hereby given that pursuant to the provisions of section 74 of the Species at Risk Act permit no. MRGNP-2015-18017 is issued.

Scientific research for the conservation of the species

Parks Canada Agency will be working in conjunction with the province of British Columbia to conduct an annual census of Woodland Caribou, Southern Mountain Population, using fixed wing aircraft. Census flights require flying as close as 100 metres of caribou, depending on visibility in treed habitat, and thus may constitute harassment of individuals.

Start Date: 2014-12-15   End Date: 2019-12-15

Issuing Authority: Parks Canada Agency

Authority Used:

  • Species at Risk Act
  • Canada National Parks Act

Location of Activity (province, territory or ocean):

  • British Columbia

Affected Species:

a)All reasonable alternatives to the activity that would reduce the impact on the species have been considered and the best solution has been adopted: Safety considerations for staff requires that winter census and caribou observation occurs from the air. Southern Mountain Caribou spend winter in the alpine and sub-alpine, which are impractical and unsafe for staff to access by foot. Aerial census is the only feasible way to census caribou over a large geographic scale. It is not possible for flights to remain more than one kilometre away from caribou in all cases because, to ensure an accurate and complete count, photos must be taken for later classification. If visibility is low, flights may have to come 100 – 500 metres above caribou. A no action alternative would result in a lack of understanding of the status of caribou herds, which would hamper recovery efforts. b)All feasible measures will be taken to minimize the impact of the activity on the species or its critical habitat or the residences of its individuals: Mitigations will be employed to limit any harassment of or harm to individuals. Census methodology will adhere to standard survey protocols for mountain caribou census (Resources Inventory Committee, 2002): At no point will flights land within park lands. If flights are required to come closer than one kilometre from animals, the time spent closer to the animal will be limited to 30 seconds to one minute. To help reduce observation time and physiological stress on animals, high resolution photos will be taken using a telephoto zoom lens, for later analysis on a computer to verify classification. Classifications will be limited to calves, adults and males in male groups; discriminating between young males and female in large groups requires additional harassment which is not required for census purposes. If animals appear stressed and/or attempt to bolt or run, the observation will be truncated, creating additional distance between the aerial machine and the individual(s). Census flights will occur in March or April when accumulated snow in the alpine is at 300 centimetres, unless flying conditions or avalanche conditions dictate otherwise. Flying in high avalanche conditions is prohibited in order to prevent triggering of an avalanche next to caribou herds or individuals. When flying a census, the helicopter pilot will stay on the open slope of the mountain, to prevent caribou from running into avalanche terrain. If, during the census, a caribou herd is observed within or adjacent to an avalanche path, distance will be maintained between the machine and the herd to minimize the chance of triggering an avalanche. c)The activity will not jeopardize the survival or recovery of the species: There will be minimal, short term impacts at the herd level from the flight activities. While the census flights in themselves do not benefit the species and don’t directly enhance caribou survival in the wild, the information gathered from the census directly contributes to population monitoring which supports section 6.3.5 of the recovery strategy for the species. Census flights of Southern Mountain Caribou have occurred since 1981 in the Columbia region, with no animal mortality or population level effects directly related to census activities.

Contact Person(s)
Sarah Boyle
Ecologist Team Leader
Parks Canada Agency
Box 350 301 W. 3rd Street
Revelstoke, BC
V0E 2S0
Tel: 250-837-7533
Fax: 250-837-7536

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