Census reveals South Selkirk Mountain Caribou herd on brink of extinction

 Photo: Jim Lawrence / Kootenay Reflections Photography 

Photo: Jim Lawrence / Kootenay Reflections Photography 

Conservationists are devastated by news that a recent census of the endangered South Selkirk mountain caribou herd found that only three females remain. This is down from 11 animals last year. 

While this news is tragic, it isn't a surprise. For decades the logging industry has knowingly decimated critical caribou habitat. Their activities removed an important food source (lichen) and made access (via forest service roads) much easier, especially for predators. In 2014, the BC Liberals announced a wolf cull program, which they claimed would help protect caribou. We knew then and we know now that the cull was simply a way of scapegoating predators while industry continued, business as usual. In fact, it was the forestry industry that suggested the wolf cull in the first place, in hopes that it would avoid a federal caribou recovery plan that would set aside more habitat for protection. To date, approximately 30 wolves have been slaughtered in the South Selkirks alone.

Despite warnings from independent scientists, First Nations and concerned citizens, the provincial government continues to prioritize profit over the protection of endangered species. In recent years, snowmobiling further disturbed mountain caribou in the South Selkirks. During the winter of 2016, snowmobile tracks were observed within a kilometre of the endangered herd. Noise pollution interrupts important winter feeding and sled tracks create easy access for predators. 

We're on track to lose the remaining southern mountain caribou herds, whose total population numbers dropped from 4,500 last year to 3,800 this year. Join us in calling on both the provincial and federal government to take immediate action to stop the logging of old-growth forests, to restore and reconnect habitat and to take concrete, effective steps in preventing disturbance from recreational activity, including snowmobiling and heli-skiing in critical caribou habitat. 

EMAIL DECISION-MAKERS:

Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development, Hon. Doug Donaldson - doug.donaldson.MLA@leg.bc.ca

Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy, Hon. George Heyman - george.heyman.MLA@leg.bc.ca

Federal Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Hon. Catherine McKenna - Catherine.McKenna@parl.gc.ca