Heli- and cat-skiing rules do protect mountain wildlife

In the Nov. 22 edition of the Clearwater Times a reader complained about heli-skiing

Editor, The Times:

In the Nov. 22 edition of the Clearwater Times a reader complained about heli-skiing and “… the lack of guidelines imposed on them regarding mountain ungulates”. If the writer had made a simple Internet search he would have found so much regulation concerning protection of wildlife within heli- and cat-skiing operations that it would more than fill the entire Clearwater Times.

Every heli- and cat-skiing operation is restrained by comprehensive regulation and operating procedures concerning wildlife in their area. They record all large mammal sightings with reactions, and submit annual reports at the end of each ski season. They meet annually to confirm compliance by all members. All companies operate under a Memorandum of Understanding that outlines procedural requirements, that if not followed, could seriously compromise their lease arrangements.

A few examples to search for under BC Ministry of Environment:

• Wildlife Guidelines for Backcountry Commercial Recreation in B.C.

• A Guide to Commercial Backcountry Skiing Standard Operating Procedures

• Memorandum of Understanding Regarding Management of Helicopter and Snow-Cat Skiing in Mountain Caribou Habitats.

• Implementation of Wildlife Operating Procedures Associated with Helicopter…?

The list goes on and on.

If we are concerned with disturbance of wildlife, perhaps we should also consider the ultimate disturbance – the rifle bullet. In a scientific treatise by Festa-Bianchet and Cote they document the fact that between 1974 and 2004 there were 24,429 mountain goats legally harvested in B.C. That’s over 800 per year. The legal hunt goes on to this day within heli- and cat-ski tenures. Not to mention the killing of deer, moose, wolves, bears, etc.

Regulations restrain heli- and cat-skiing so that others can destroy what we so carefully preserve!

Rick Kunelius

 

Banff, Alberta