Federal environment minister gives Quebec May 1 deadline for caribou protection plan

OTTAWA — Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault is once again threatening to invoke federal powers to protect Quebec’s endangered woodland caribou.

Guilbeault says in a letter to his provincial counterpart dated Friday that Quebec has until May 1 to release its long−delayed caribou protection strategy.

He writes that he is concerned about the delays and says that if he concludes the animals are in danger of extinction, he could seek a federal decree to protect them.

In an interview this month, Quebec Environment Minister Benoit Charette declined to give a timeline for the release of the strategy — which was originally scheduled to be published last June.

It has been nearly two years since Guilbeault first said he would seek a cabinet decree to protect Quebec’s declining caribou population if the province didn’t act.

Quebec’s woodland caribou population has declined as a result of habitat destruction, industrial activity and increased predation, with a provincial commission estimating in 2022 that there were about 5,200 of the animals left in the province.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 18, 2024.

The Canadian Press