wolf cull

Advocates Draw Attention to BC's Caribou Crisis

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At the recent Vancouver Mural Festival, Wildlife Defence League, Lush Cosmetics and Squamish Nation artist Siobhan Joseph partnered to raise awareness of British Columbia’s endangered caribou and the related wolf cull program.

Through a thought-provoking “Ethics Lounge”, visitors to the Mural Festival were encouraged to explore the complexities of the issue. The lounge featured photos from our research and fieldwork, including images of cut-blocks and active logging in caribou habitat. An interactive display revealed the root cause of caribou decline - as smoke from a smoke machine dissipated, a photo of a single tree left standing in a cut-block emerged. The display symbolized the provincial government’s approach of scapegoating wolves for the decline in caribou through it’s wolf-kill program, while permitting the continued destruction of caribou habitat.

The Ethics Lounge also included a call to action, which asked the public to text “caribou” to 70734, leading them to a letter they can send to the federal Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, Catherine McKenna. The letter calls for an emergency protection order for caribou under the Federal Species At Risk Act.

For the mural portion of the festival, Lush partnered with Siobhan Joseph, an artist from the Squamish Nation, who painted a mural titled “The Matriarch”, which was inspired by her mother.

“My mom was the matriarch of the family and she had very strong beliefs of protecting our land and our environment,” said Siobhan in a recent interview with the Daily Hive. If you missed this year’s Mural Festival, you can find Siobhan’s mural at the corner of Main Street and East 7th in Vancouver.

TAKE ACTION:

We’re encouraging our supporters to participate in our call to action for caribou by using our email template to send a message to Minister McKenna, calling for the emergency protection order. A provision in the Species At Risk Act compels the Minister to protect critical habitat for endangered species, yet caribou habitat continues to be impacted by industrial and high-impact recreational activity.

In a previous statement, Minister McKenna said actions at the provincial level haven’t done enough to protect and restore habitat and that immediate intervention is needed if endangered herds are to recover. Over a year later, the threats to caribou habitat remain the same.

Two herds have functionally gone extinct in the last year and others are on the brink. Meanwhile, the provincial government hides behind its wolf cull program that has killed over 500 wolves since the cull began in 2015. Join us in calling on Minister McKenna to request the emergency protection order needed to preserve caribou habitat and to end the unethical and misguided wolf cull program.

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