5 ways pipeline companies are protecting an iconic Canadian species

When you think of animals that represent Canada, what are the first five that come to mind? Beaver, moose, loon, grizzly bear, and…caribou?

Many Canadians will have only seen these iconic Canadian animals on the back of a quarter, but caribou are an important and treasured species in northern Canada.

Caribou are also among the most sensitive species in Canada to changes in land use. Over time, building roads, installing pipelines, cutting seismic lines and other human activities have opened up access for predators to the caribou, particularly wolves.

Some caribou herds are so small that one death can have a profound effect on their populations. But caribou are creatures of habit; pregnant females will return, year after year, to their favourite calving sites regardless of activity in the area. That puts them at higher risk, and makes managing around the caribou more difficult.

The National Energy Board (NEB) is taking the caribou’s plight very seriously. In May, 2016, at the 16th North American Caribou Workshop in Thunder Bay, Ont., the NEB outlined conditions that pipeline operators must meet to mitigate effects on the woodland caribou.

Canada’s transmission pipeline companies are taking it seriously, too. CEPA members work with wildlife biologists to develop restoration techniques for caribou habitat, and to monitor the effects of construction and operation on the species.

Here are just some of the mitigation measures the pipeline industry has put in place.

  1. Applying construction restrictions to avoid high-risk times, such as calving and migration
  2. Controlling access to deter both humans and predators from travelling right of ways (ROW)
  3. Using measures, such as tree-planting, installing fences or berms, to limit visibility along ROWs
  4. Spreading woody debris along the ROWs to slow the rate of wolf movement
  5. Planting native vegetation to restore the ecosystem, but not attracting deer or moose (because that can cause a chain reaction by also attracting wolves)

Caribou is only one species that is at risk from human interventions. Canada has 521 animal and plant species listed under the Species at Risk Act. Find out how CEPA and its members work to minimize activities affecting those species. And, learn more about how CEPA members are protecting the environment in the 2017 Pipeline Industry Performance Report.