Action is needed now to protect mountain caribou in Wells Gray

Predator control programs have not been effective in stopping, or even slowing, the decline in caribou numbers

Editor, The Times:

Interesting article (“Goward lukewarm about caribou recovery plan” in Feb. 9 issue) about: the plight of Wells Gray Park’s rapidly declining southern herds of mountain caribou. These herds have apparently suffered a 75 per cent decline in numbers since 2000 and are currently facing extinction.

So Christy Clark’s Liberals have made yet another pre-election promise, have they? A promise to commit $27 million to a mountain caribou recovery program?

This recovery was also a promise when the Liberals came to power in 2002. And the Wells Gray southern population of caribou has still decreased in numbers by 75 per cent since then.

It is also very interesting to note that only a few days after this Feb. 1, funding announcement, Canfor announced that approval is imminent to commence logging on a total of 10 new cut-blocks adjacent to the southern boundary of Wells Gray Park.

Environment Canada, under the Federal Species at Risk Act, (SARA) published a “Recovery Strategy for the Woodland Caribou, Southern Population” in 2014. Studies are pointing to habitat loss as the number one factor in the decline of our mountain caribou herds.

Predation is also a factor, yes. But predator control programs have not been effective in stopping, or even slowing, the decline in caribou numbers.

Now, not only is every single one of Canfor’s 10 proposed cut-blocks located within the Critical Caribou Habitat designated by this federal recovery strategy, but granting approval for logging these blocks without local consultation would be in direct contravention of the formal land use agreement “Guiding Principles for Land and Resource Management in the Upper Clearwater Valley.” This agreement was made among all area stakeholders in 2000.

In view of the above, how can we possibly attach any credibility to Christy Clark’s pre-election promise to commit $27 million to the recovery of our nearby mountain caribou herds?

We need to take action now, and the most logical first step is an immediate moratorium on industrial logging throughout the designated critical caribou habitat.

We also need to support the current move to have Wells Gray Park granted World Heritage Status.

Google ‘Wells Gray World Heritage’ for further information on this.

Barriere stands to benefit from these actions with enhanced tourism activity along the valley corridor, not to mention continued enjoyment for those of us who hike in this spectacular park.

I have twice in my life been fortunate enough to view mountain caribou in the wild. The second time was on a hike up to Battle Mountain in Wells Gray. I would like my grandchildren to have the same opportunity.

Bev Henry

Barriere, B.C.