Caribou calf in a maternity pen near Revelstoke, to protect it from wolves until it is old enough to survive. (Black Press Media)

GUEST COLUMN: Condemning caribou to extinction in B.C.

Province’s two-year moratorium on new mining, logging not enough

By Michael Bloomfield and Robert Bateman

More than one year ago the federal government, as required under the Species at Risk Act (SARA), ordered B.C. to protect the critical habitat of southern mountain caribou. Now that B.C. has failed, Canada must impose an emergency order for caribou to survive and the SARA process to retain any credibility.

This story began in the 1970s when biologist Michael Bloomfield and others documented that widespread destruction of habitat by logging and other resource development threatened caribou survival. These majestic animals have roamed our forests and mountains for millennia and depend on large tracts of mature forest.

Since then successive B.C. governments have allowed our forests to be over-harvested so that the future of both caribou and workers are threatened. Simultaneously they failed to diversify the northern economy as jobs were lost to automation and a declining industry.

Now we have a crisis and government lacks the courage to deal with it. Despite irrefutable scientific evidence, government caved in to a propaganda campaign pushing the tired old falsehood of jobs versus environment.

The Conservation Agreement with Canada fails in many ways, resting heavily on killing wolves and penning pregnant females while doing nothing about hunting, harassment from recreational ATVs and ignoring the prime cause of decline, logging critical habitat.

RELATED: Caribou protection on hold as B.C. mends fences

RELATED: Killing B.C. industries won’t save the caribou

Why is the fight for caribou so important? Losing caribou, an apex species, means the loss of other wild species dependent on the same habitat. More than that, Canada’s northern forests are the world’s largest forest ecosystem, exceeding 25 per cent of the world’s remaining forest, containing 25 per cent of the world’s wetlands and more surface fresh water than anywhere else on Earth. These forests store twice as much carbon per acre as tropical rain forests and hold some of the cleanest water on the planet. They also are home to many First Nations.

Therefore, Canada’s northern forests are not only vital to our environment, culture and economy but to meeting our commitments on climate change, bio-diversity and indigenous rights. Continuing to allow damaging and unsustainable industrial practices is lousy social, economic and environmental policy. When sacred areas are despoiled, water supplies contaminated and forests decimated by logging, mining and oil and gas development, everyone loses, including our children and their children’s children.

With the stakes so high what should we do in BC? Adopt a province-wide caribou recovery plan with clear commitments for habitat protection and restoration.

• The agreement between BC and Canada fails to do that. To succeed, we also must end recreational hunting of caribou, remove RV and heli-skiing disturbance from critical habitat and abandon the heavy reliance on scientifically and morally questionable predator control.

• Convene a new Commission on Resources and Environment to update the 1996 CORE effort to lay out strategic plans and commitments for sustainability in our land-use practices. A northern economic diversification plan with input from affected communities must be part of that process.

No one demands a future without resource extraction; but it must be combined with more conscientious management of our forests, water and wildlife for generations to come. Instead of liquidating our resources for short-term gain we should learn from Norway, invest some of our resource wealth in long-term prosperity and pursue the clean-energy, knowledge-based economy of the future.

This may be our last chance to save mountain and forest-dwelling caribou in B.C.

Michael Bloomfield is Founder and Executive Director of the Harmony Foundation of Canada. Robert Bateman, renowned artist and conservationist, is Honorary Chair of the Foundation.

BC legislature

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Man found dead in Sicamous near vehicle linked to suspicious death in Edmonton

The man was found dead on the evening of July 11, 2020

QUIZ: Are you ready for a summer road trip?

How much do you really know about roads, motor vehicles and car culture? Take this quiz to find out.

Provincial COVID-19 data can now be used for B.C. to prepare for a second wave

In the past week, B.C. has seen a slight spike in daily test-positive case counts

Shuswap Royal Canadian Legion branches happy to be open again

With COVID-19 restrictions easing, the legion halls are back.

Dozens of fish die at popular lake near Chase

A few natural phenomena are possible causes for their deaths.

Islanders want BC Ferries to follow order that lets residents board before tourists

For ferry-dependent communities, ferries are often the sole practical lifeline to work, school or medical appointments.

Okanagan sisters-in-law sleep out successful

Kiley Routley and Heidi Routley raise nearly $2,400 and awareness for youth homelessness

Beverly Hills 90210 star’s family selling Vancouver Island Beach Resort

You can own Jason Priestley’s Terrace Beach Resort in Ucluelet for less than $5 million

Genetic detectives begin work to trace spread of COVID-19 in Canada

The kinds of genetic technology being used for this project did not exist when SARS hit Canada in 2003

Sports fishers protest Fraser River Chinook closures

Public Fishery Alliance wants hatchery fish open for harvest

COVID-19: Homeless to be relocated from temporary Okanagan shelter

Homeless shelters in Vernon have been combined into one site at the curling rink since April

Amber Alert for two Quebec girls cancelled after bodies found

Romy Carpentier, 6, Norah Carpentier, 11, and their father, Martin Carpentier, missing since Wednesday

B.C. man prepares to be first to receive double-hand transplant in Canada

After the surgery, transplant patients face a long recovery

Most Read