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

It’s a go: Williams Lake Garden Club prepares for summer garden tour

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, some measures are in place for this year’s garden tour

B.C. First Nation owned solar farm connected to the grid

Construction was completed by the Tsilhqot’in Nation last year

CRD library to offer curbside pick up in Williams Lake beginning June 9

Due to COVID-19 the library has been closed to the public since March 17

Williams Lake mayor, doctors, tourism, chamber to provide updates at June tailgate event

A maximum of 30 vehicles can attend, event will be livestreamed

Grants for assistance extinguished for independent fire departments within Cariboo Regional District

Ten fire departments will be impacted, CRD-funded and managed fire departments will not be impacted

‘I’m pissed, I’m outraged’: Federal minister calls out police violence against Indigenous people

Indigenous Minister Marc Miller spoke on recent incidents, including fatal shooting of a B.C. woman

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

Thanks for helping the Williams Lake Tribune continue its mission to provide trusted local news

Kelowna Mountie who punched suspect identified, condemned by sister

‘How did he get away with this? How is this justifiable?’

PHOTOS: Anti-racism protesters gather in communities across B.C.

More protests are expected through the weekend

Pair accused of ‘horrific’ assault at Vancouver’s Oppenheimer Park at large

Police say Jason Tapp, 30, and Nicole Edwards, 33, did not show up to meet their bail supervisor this week

No charges to be laid against 22 northern B.C. pipeline protesters

Twenty-two people were arrested in February, but Crown has decided not to pursue charges

‘Great Regional Air Hug’ being organized by the Vanderhoof International Airshow Society

A multi-aircraft flyover over the region is being planned for August 15.

Plan in place for BC Ferries to start increasing service levels

Ferry corporation reaches temporary service level agreement with province

Most Read