Greenpeace Caribou Caravan Hits Thunder Bay

25 October 2010 (Thunder Bay) – The Greenpeace caribou caravan migrated today to the Thunder Bay office of Northern Development, Mines and Forestry Minister, Michael Gravelle to demand that he save the threatened woodland caribou by protecting the last wilderness areas of the Boreal Forest.

The caribou caravan street theatre included a small herd of black silhouette caribou, one seven-foot-high hourglass and a six foot by six foot billboard to remind Minister Gravelle that time is running out to save caribou. Greenpeace also set up a phone station so people could call Gravelle. The caribou caravan is targeting the offices of key members of the McGuinty government in the next year to press for action on caribou protection.

“Minster Gravelle has the power to save caribou and protect their habitat,” said Catharine Grant, Greenpeace Forest Campaigner, “We are calling on him to take action before all that’s left of the magnificent caribou are the black silhouette caribou we brought to Thunder Bay. The government has taken some steps towards sustainable development in the far North but continues to allow logging in the province’s remaining areas of wilderness. The concrete, on-the-ground action to protect the Southern Boreal Forest and save woodland caribou that Premier McGuinty promised, has still not been delivered.”

Ontario Environmental Commissioner Gord Miller has recently warned that “[t]he government’s conservation plan does little to reduce or eliminate the threats to this iconic species. As a result the woodland caribou is at risk of being extirpated in Ontario by the end of this century”.

In his 2009/2010 annual report, Miller said only 20,000 woodland caribou remain in Ontario and their territory has shrunk by 50 per cent in little more than a century. Miller said: “The government’s plan calls itself science-based. Instead, it’s faith-based. We can only pray that caribou will survive.”

The loss of the Southern Boreal Forest also threatens communities that depend on the Boreal for their livelihoods and traditional culture and will contribute to climate change as enormous quantities of carbon are stored in the soil and peatlands of the Boreal Forest.

“Greenpeace activists will be stopping in communities across Ontario to raise the alarm for caribou,” said Natalie Caine, Greenpeace volunteer organizer. “The countdown to the next election has begun and Greenpeace hopes that Minister Gravelle will use his power within the McGuinty government to save woodland caribou habitat by protecting the last intact wilderness areas of the southern Boreal Forest.”