The federal government’s new strategy to protect woodland caribou is getting a favourable response from a conservation manager in the province.

Gord Vaadeland of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society says the plan gives Saskatchewan some flexibility in what areas to target first with preservation strategies.

For example, he says wildfires north of La Ronge cause a level of disturbance that is above the threshold already established by Ottawa.

Further south, Vaadeland says the problem isn’t as bad — because the timber lies in areas accessed by forestry groups and is considered a protected resource.

He says, as a result, the strategy seems to be giving the province the option of targeting the southern portion of the animals’ habitat first while carrying out deeper study of areas north of that:

“So, I think the expectation — as I read it in the strategy — would be that, five years from now, we would have completed our research in the boreal shield and we would have an action plan for the boreal plain on caribou recovery.”

Vaadeland says he has talked with mining and forestry groups and feels they all share similar concerns.

He also notes Saskatchewan was the only jurisdiction to have “its knuckles rapped” for failing to have sufficient information about the status of caribou in the province — a situation he says has to be rectified, because it’s unclear if the issue is a lack of caribou or a lack of data.