Notice of permit

Regional or Local Number: MRGNP-2020-34878

Notice is hereby given that pursuant to the provisions of section 74 of the Species at Risk Act permit no. MRGNP-2020-34878 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 helicopters. 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: 2020-01-23   End Date: 2025-01-23

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:

Alternatives: Southern Mountain Caribou spend the winter in alpine and sub-alpine habitats, which are impractical and unsafe for staff to access by foot. Safety considerations for staff requires that winter census and caribou observation occurs from the air via helicopter, since the census route crosses complex and challenging avalanche terrain and would present a significant safety risk to staff conducting the surveys using ground-based tracking. Aerial census is the only feasible way to census caribou over a large geographic scale, which is the case for conducting census in both Mount Revelstoke and Glacier national parks. 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. When possible, flights will be conducted under clear sky conditions to maximize detectability. However, if visibility is low, flights may have to come within 100 – 500 metres of caribou to ensure detectability. A census is the accepted standard method for collecting census information on this species. A no action alternative (i.e. not conducting census flights), would result in a lack of recent population data and create a challenge for future conservation planning and would hinder recovery objectives for the species. Mitigations: Mitigations will be employed to reduce any harassment of individuals during the helicopter census flights. Census methodology will adhere to standard survey protocols for mountain caribou census (BC Government Resources Inventory Standards Committee, 2002). 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 up to a maximum of 1 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. This will reduce the amount of time the helicopter is in close proximity to animals. Landing of helicopters within Park boundaries is not anticipated to be required; however, if avalanche risk is low and an Avalanche Safety Plan has been approved, there may be helicopter landing for other wildlife research objectives (wolverine) in areas without any sign of caribou. If sign or direct observations of caribou are made in the potential landing zone, landing will be aborted to minimize disturbance to caribou. Classifications will be limited to calves, adults and males; discriminating between young males and females 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 helicopter and the individual(s). 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. Jeopardy to Survival or Recovery of the Species: Jeopardy to 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 themselves do not directly 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 recovery efforts 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)
Parks Canada
Species Conservation and Management
Natural Resource Conservation
Parks Canada
30 Victoria Street 3rd floor
Gatineau, QC
J8X 0B3
Tel: 888-773-8888
Fax: 819-420-9273

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