Wolves & Mountain Caribou

Photo credit: Jim Lawrence/Kootenay Reflections

Photo credit: Jim Lawrence/Kootenay Reflections

For decades, industrial activity, including logging, mining, oil & gas have decimated caribou habitat throughout British Columbia. Industry went unchecked while mountain caribou populations dwindled. In the past two years, two herds in southeastern British Columbia were extirpated. Meanwhile, high-impact recreational activity (snowmobiling, ATVing and heli-skiing) has added additional pressure to mountain caribou populations. Today, wolves are being trapped and shot by a government-funded program which seeks to scapegoat predators while industry continues to destroy critical habitat.

·      Snowmobiling/Heli-skiing: Reports suggest stress hormones have been found in caribou up to ten kilometres away from snowmobiling. Reports also suggest caribou will intentionally avoid habitat with heavy snowmobile use, even though the habitat itself is suitable for caribou to thrive in. Predators also take advantage of snowmobile tracks to access caribou habitat where otherwise, the snow would be too deep to travel in. Like seismic lines, snowmobile tracks create predator highways. Heli-skiing disturbs caribou through noise pollution during important feeding times and is similar to snowmobiling in that caribou avoid habitat used by heli-skiing operations.

We are asking the provincial government to:

·      Prohibit trapping of wolves within and adjacent to endangered mountain caribou habitat. This will ensure packs are not splintered, which can have the effect of increasing wolf density.

·      Enact immediate closure of all snowmobiling and help-skiing within endangered mountain caribou habitat. Snowmobiling has been identified as a contributor to the decline in endangered mountain caribou due to noise pollution and habitat disturbance. Snowmobile tracks create predator highways that animals like wolves and cougars use to access caribou during winter months in high-elevation habitat where otherwise, access would be near impossible. Heli-skiing disturbs caribou through noise pollution and interrupts important feeding times.

·      Fund a comprehensive impact study on all recreational activity within endangered mountain caribou habitat and its effect on the species, province wide.

·      Fund a comprehensive research study on the overall health of the South Selkirk ecosystem to better direct future conservation initiatives. Caribou are known as the canary in the coal mine, meaning they are an indicator of the overall health of an ecosystem.

·      Immediately stop the wolf cull. There is little evidence to indicate culling wolves will recover endangered caribou across British Columbia. Alberta has killed more than 1000 wolves for over ten years and the endangered herds have not recovered there. In the South Selkirk, approximately 30 wolves were killed yet the caribou herd in the area is now extirpated. Furthermore, wolves are highly intelligent, social and sentient beings who live in dynamic family groups. Shooting these animals from helicopters is an outdated practice and is traumatizing to individuals who manage to escape. The cull fails to acknowledge the critical role this keystone predator plays in maintaining a healthy and balanced ecosystem.

·      Prohibit new logging/mining/oil/gas permits within caribou habitat. 

·      Fund Indigenous-led maternal penning programs across the province to help re-establish endangered caribou populations. 

We’re also encouraging our followers to contact the Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change and respectfully request she and the federal government issue an emergency protection order for mountain caribou. Caribou are running out of time and without immediate action, the species is on a sure path to extinction.