When it Comes to Caribou – Half Measures Seem a Waste of Time

Earlier this morning, the Provincial government published a news release about the successful relocation of three Mountain Caribou from the South Selkirk and Purcell herds to the larger Revelstoke herd. The two southern herds comprised a total of six animals. Three caribou – two male bulls and one male yearling, were not able to be safely caught. The three that were are in good condition in a holding pen outside of Revelstoke.

The plan to relocate the herds have been in the news several times (here’s one https://revelstokecurrent.com/southern-caribou-herds-to-be-relocated-to-revelstoke-rearing-pen/) Efforts to save the caribou have included this relocation, as well as earlier maternity pens, and are part of the government’s 27 million dollar, three year Provincial Caribou Recovery Program Plan.

“The B.C. government is acting on its commitment to protect caribou populations. The number of caribou in British Columbia has been in decline over the past century, from approximately 40,000 animals, to about 15,000 today – Actions include protecting remaining caribou in the province, increasing habitat protection in select locations, habitat restoration, supplemental feeding, primary prey management, predator management and enhanced research and monitoring,” the press release states. (https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2019FLNR0011-000066)

And yet David Moscowitz, a highly regarded conservationist, author and wildlife photographer, has repeatedly said that the best way to save the species is to save the caribou refuge habitat. This habitat is the inland temperate rainforest that runs through the Pacific Northwest. Without it, the species suffers from fragmentation and increased predation. (https://revelstokecurrent.com/david-moskowitz-wildlife-photographer-and-author-presenting-multimedia-tour-mountain-caribou/)

On October 23rd of 2018, Sarah Cox of the Narwhal, writes that 83 new logging cut blocks in the endangered caribou habitat since May.

The article states – “The clock is ticking and caribou need protection now,” said Charlotte Dawe, a spokesperson for the Wilderness Committee, which discovered the new cut blocks approved by the B.C. Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, one of the two provincial ministries in charge of leading recovery efforts for the species.

“If the province was serious about the federal Species at Risk Act and about protecting caribou, then they would have at least rejected the permits for these cut blocks.”

Thirty of B.C.’s 54 caribou herds are at risk of local extinction, and 14 of those herds now have fewer than 25 animals. (https://thenarwhal.ca/b-c-approved-83-logging-cut-blocks-in-endangered-caribou-habitat-in-last-six-months/?fbclid=IwAR17dSg_-axPCLf60lRxMk2HBfl3EoTmXi4cxICz_IuN1HSoFvJ2sSwZTsk)

The article goes on to note that eight herds are facing logging of their habitat.

Numerous groups, activists and environmentalists have been petitioning Ottawa to create an emergency protection order under the federal Species at Risk since 2017.

Moskowitz has previously noted that large scale logging is not beneficial to most communities it affects, and that the critical habitat are often used to create pulp. Harrop-Procter Community Forest Products from Nelson has been held up as an example for others to follow. Revelstoke’s Downie Timber Ltd and Selkirk Cedar Ltd have not yet followed suit.

It seems counter intuitive for the provincial government to invest 27 million dollars into a plan that the same government is setting up to fail due to their other actions. What is the point of increasing of road fines (https://revelstokecurrent.com/off-road-fines-increased-to-help-protect-sensitive-caribou-habitat/)  if you’re cutting down the habitat in which the same endangered animal is actively living?

I’m for the attempts to save our Mountain Caribou. I’m for the preservation of the world’s only inland temperate rainforest. I don’t believe that not logging those areas will ruin the logging economy. I grew up with a father who worked in mining. I understand the knee jerk reaction that industry is bad, without people understanding it is a huge part of the economy, and that there are new best practices that can make it as sustainable as possible while we segue into new technologies. But I don’t see the point in pretending to do good, while doing everything you can to sabotage your own efforts. Half measures won’t work here. We need to go all in, if we aren’t too late already.

Here’s to people in Ottawa seeing it as well.

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