A new report out today from the International Boreal Conservation Campaign and the Canadian Boreal Initiative demonstrates vividly why Canada’s 150 year-old mining laws are putting birds, wildlife, and people at risk. It’s hard to believe but virtually all of the Boreal is still open for anyone to stake a mineral claim and arrive at the site with backhoes and chainsaws to start cutting trees, building roads, and digging into the ground. And they don’t have to ask anyone’s permission firstâ€”not the landowner’s, not the First Nation’s communities that live nearby or hunt and fish there, and certainly not the birds, caribou, and other wildlife. In fact, this so-called “Free Entry System” has allowed a whopping 10% of the Canadian Boreal to have already been staked for mineral claims! The report shows maps of the claims across the Boreal and includes an overlay with the range of Caribouâ€”a species that is highly sensitive to disturbance. So sensitive is the Woodland Caribou that it has disappeared from a vast portion of the already disturbed southern range which once extended into northern New York and New England. Sadly, the Woodland Caribou is now listed as Threatened across most of its Canadian range.
Woodland Caribou Range
I start thinking about birds that might be similarly at risk from this Free-Entry free-for-all. Large portions of some southern Boreal breeders like Canada Warbler, Connecticut Warbler, and Evening Grosbeak clearly overlap with major mineral claim areas and compare the map of mineral claims with a limited range species like the Short-billed Dowitcher!
You can see these maps for yourself and read more detail about the report here.
And, as always, if you are moved to action, sign up for the Save Our Boreal Birds petition at www.saveourborealbirds.org and get more people to sign by sending it out to listserves, bloggers, newsletters, and websites!