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New parks over wolf cull: B.C. groups

Sep 30. 15

By Stefania Seccia
24 Hours

Instead of penning pregnant mountain caribou and shooting wolves from helicopters, 10 environmental groups are appealing to Premier Christy Clark to carve out public park space.

The groups, including Raincoast Conservation Foundation, Pacific Wild, and the Valhalla Wilderness Society, sent a letter stating that B.C.’s 2007 Mountain Caribou Recovery Plan is “failing dismally.” It notes that in the last seven years of recovery efforts, the Interior Wetbelt has lost 500 mountain caribou.

“B.C. is in a biodiversity crisis,” said Valhalla’s Anne Sherrod. “The mountain caribou are endangered because old-growth forests are endangered, which represents many other species.”

The groups recommend three major new parks in B.C.’s Interior Wetbelt: the Selkirk, Quesnel Lake, and Robson Valley areas.

Sherrod said the province is making a mistake in confining their efforts to “mostly non-habitat methods,” such as the controversial wolf cull in the South Selkirk and South Peace regions, and penning pregnant caribou.

According to the groups, seven caribou died so far this year in B.C. pens, but the two projects in Revelstoke and Chetwynd had a combined cost of almost $1.4 million.

“There is a huge hole in the mountain caribou recovery program and that is to create permanent, fully protected areas as a core conservation technique that would protect not only the caribou, but many other species at risk in this forest,” Sherrod said.

The letter concludes that “without increased and permanent protection in the form of parks, we believe there is a real possibility that the public will end up with nothing to show for all the years and hundreds of thousands of tax dollars the B.C. government has already spent, and will continue to spend, on experimental techniques that have so far failed.”

But Tom Ethier, assistant deputy minister of B.C.’s forest ministry, said in a previous interview that habitat loss is not the primary threat.

“For many years, the province has taken a variety of other ations to assist at-risk caribou herds, including setting aside key habitat, managing recreation to reduce human disturbance and undertaking maternal penning projects to increase calf survival in endangered herds, he said.

“Other caribou recovery efforts including habitat protection and restoration are already in place and will help put caribou back on even footing ecologically.”

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