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Wildsight calls for moratorium on logging in core caribou habitat

A mountain caribou in B.C. Photo by David Moskowitz

Kootenay-based environmental group Wildsight is calling for an interim moratorium on logging and road building in core southern mountain caribou habitat. The moratorium should stay in place until permanent protections are in place, says Eddie Petryshen, Wildsight Conservation Specialist.

Petryshen says that in an agreement signed in February 2020, the province of B.C. committed to actions to stabilize caribou populations. These actions included increasing protection of habitat.

“With one year left before the agreement expires, almost no progress has been made, and caribou habitat continues to be logged,” he said.

Some herds, such as the South Selkirks, Purcells Central, Purcells South, Central Rockies, Columbia South, Frisby Boulder and Monashee have disappeared. Two of those locally extinct herds disappeared since the agreement was signed.

Logging impacts — both from the destruction of core caribou habitat, and logging roads giving predators easier access to caribou herds — have driven these losses, Wildsight says.

The other deep snow mountain caribou herds are considered endangered.

Petryshen says the moratorium should include the southern group of mountain caribou.

“The highest priority for immediate protection is in herds where the current protection levels are lowest,” he said. “This includes places like Columbia North where 209 animals roam the Northern Monashees, Northern Selkirks and Rockies north of Revelstoke. Only 35 per cent of their core habitat is currently protected. This means that the vast majority of their habitat is still open to logging and road building.”

Petryshen says the government continues to approve and try to auction off cutblocks that overlap the herd’s range.

“Without urgent protection of core caribou habitat from logging and road building, herds like the Columbia North and Groundhog will go extinct and B.C. will lose its deep-snow caribou forever. If that happens, the responsibility will sit squarely on B.C. and Canada’s shoulders for failing to do the one thing they knew could save these animals,” he said.

“If we’re going to save deep-snow caribou, we need action on the ground and we need the federal and provincial governments to protect their core habitat immediately.”

B.C.’s overall caribou populations has dropped from an estimated 45,000 to 15,000 over the last century. The deep-snow herds have declined from 2,500 in the 1990s to approximately 1,250 today.

READ: Mountain caribou decline is heartbreaking story, Wildsight says

READ; Four caribou left in South Purcells herd

Carolyn Grant

About the Author: Carolyn Grant

I have been with the Kimberley Bulletin since 2001 and have enjoyed every moment of it.
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