Province admits there is not enough intact habitat left for endangered caribou herds in the South Peace: affidavit
In an affidavit submitted to the B.C. Supreme Court, the government of British Columbia admits it allowed industrial development to destroy and fragment so much mountain caribou habitat in the South Peace region that caribou can no longer survive as they did for thousands of years.
The affidavit is part of the Province’s response to Pacific Wild and Valhalla Wilderness Society’s petition for a Judicial Review of their experimental wolf cull in the South Peace. The multi-year kill program was launched in the South Peace and South Selkirk regions in January 2015. Since then, over 250 wolves have been killed.
The submission, which included several other official documents as evidence, reveals the responsible Ministers were fully aware of the impact of habitat destruction on caribou herds for decades, yet continued to permit industrial development.
The key affidavit was provided by Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations’ Christopher Addison, Director of Resource Management, Regional Operations Division-North Area. Addison, who authorized the South Peace wolf cull, made a number of concessions, including:
- acknowledging that there is no longer sufficient intact caribou habitat to maintain spatial separation from wolves in the South Peace (paras 19-20);
- admitting mountain caribou predation is largely a result of extensive habitat alterations arising from cumulative industrial and natural disturbances (para 18);
- conceding that caribou are not the main prey of wolves, but wolves may incidentally kill caribou (para 19); and
- claiming that wolves cause less than half of caribou mortality in the South Peace (para 17).
“The B.C. government’s response exposes a wilful negligence of its duty to protect and conserve wildlife and ecosystems,” said Ian McAllister of Pacific Wild, “The government has known for decades that habitat destruction and fragmentation by forestry, energy projects, coal and other human use led to drastic caribou declines. So much more could have been done, and could still be done, to protect and restore the habitat that caribou need to survive. Instead, they are killing hundreds of wolves to appease industry and other vested interests.”
Pacific Wild and Valhalla Wilderness Society have serious concerns about the way wildlife management decisions are made in B.C. Populations, species and entire ecosystems that existed for millennia are being wiped out in a very short time under an entrenched policy framework heavily influenced by industry and special interests.
“The public is being misled to believe that slaughtering predators will save the mountain caribou over the long term,” stated Craig Pettitt of the Valhalla Wilderness Society. “The government never tells the public that up to 60% of mountain caribou mortalities are due to other predators and unknown causes, or that the massive 7-year wolf cull in Alberta failed to increase the Little Smokey caribou herd.”
Now that the 2016 wolf cull has ended, Pacific Wild and Valhalla Wilderness Society have withdrawn their petition for a judicial review and are working with counsel to determine next steps.
For more information or to arrange an interview with a spokesperson from Pacific Wild or Valhalla Wilderness Society, please email your request to Michaela Montaner at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- May 16, 2016: Affidavit referenced above (PDF)
- May 16, 2016: Legal case exposes B.C. government’s wilful negligence of duty to protect wildlife, ecosystems (Blog)
Previous blogs, release
- May 3, 2016: Wolf kill numbers nearly double in 2016 (Blog)
- Feb 1, 2016: BC government delivers flawed consultation amidst moves to increase trophy hunting in 2016 (Press Release)
- January 20, 2016: Courts asked to rule on B.C.’s controversial wolf cull; Local and international groups rally in support (Press Release)