The plight of Alberta’s northeastern caribou herds do not warrant emergency protection measures, Environment Minister Peter Kent has decided, Ecojustice learned late Wednesday afternoon.

Kent was under orders from the Federal Court to reconsider his original decision not to issue a recommendation for emergency protection of the herds, which are in serious decline due in large part to oilsands development in the habitat they need to survive.

“I have reconsidered and I have determined that nationally, the species does not face an imminent threat to survival at this time,” Kent said in an interview with The Canadian Press. The Minister’s formal reasons for his decision have not yet been posted.

Six months ago, the Court called Minister Kent’s original decision not to recommend emergency protection for woodland caribou “out of the blue,” and ruled that it ignored scientific evidence and must be set aside.

The Minister’s decision was reportedly made two weeks ago, although we did not learn of it until Wednesday, after filing a special application to expedite a response from Minister Kent on the issue.

It’s a disappointing turn of events. Ecojustice is now consulting with our clients, Alberta Wilderness Association and the Pembina Institute, about possible next steps.