By Andrea Woo, Vancouver Sun
A collective of Canadian environmental groups has written an open letter to Premier Gordon Campbell decrying the provincial government’s proposal for an aerial wolf kill in efforts to protect the dwindling mountain caribou population.In the letter, sent Monday, 16 environmental groups state they are strongly opposed to the killing of wolves — as well as other carnivorous animals including cougars and bears — arguing human activities such as the logging of old-growth forests and snowmobiling are the main causes of mountain caribou population decline.
“These herds are small because they have lost habitat on a massive scale,” the letter stated. “Even if we could kill all the predators, these herds could still be wiped out by incidents such as automobile accidents, avalanches, stress from snowmobiles and fluctuating winter conditions unfavourable to their survival.”
The collective — which includes groups such as the Valhalla Wilderness Society, Raincoast Conservation and the Animal Alliance of Canada — proposes four alternate solutions: stopping clear-cutting and road-building in mountain caribou habitat; stopping snowmobiling and heli-skiing in historical mountain caribou wintering areas; habitat restoration in clearcut areas; and reducing the speed limit on the Salmo-Creston Highway, where a number of animals have been hit by passing vehicles.
Anne Sherrod, chair of the Valhalla Wilderness Society, said on Tuesday the group had not yet received a response.
The provincial goal is to increase the mountain caribou population — now estimated at 1,800 to 1,900 animals — to the pre-1995 level of 2,500 animals within 20 years.
The proposal for the aerial wolf kill first surfaced in February.
In March, the B.C. Supreme Court put the brakes on development of a coal mine near Moberly Lake because the provincial government did not sufficiently consult with the West Moberly First Nation or accommodate its concerns.