Valhalla Provincial Park stretches from the far shore of Slocan Lake in British Columbia, to the mountaintops.
Valhalla Provincial Park was created in 1983 after eight years of hard-won battle by the Valhalla Wilderness Society (VWS). VWS went on to successfully spearhead campaigns for the Khutzeymateen Grizzly Bear Sanctuary, Goat Range Provincial Park, and the Spirit Bear Conservancies on Princess Royal Island. The charitable organization also played one of the key roles in the protection of South Moresby National Park Reserve. Its Endangered Wilderness Map of 1988 initiated the movement to double BC’s park system to 12% of the province. VWS has led park campaigns that now protect over 560,000 hectares. The work resulted in numerous national and international conservation awards received by Chairperson Colleen McCrory.
The Valhalla Wilderness Society
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Two Proposals for New Parks to Protect Ancient Forest,
Mountain Caribou, Grizzly Bears and Other Species at Risk
Today BC needs a dramatic increase in the percent of parks. Clearcut logging, mines, pipelines and other development have occurred far out of balance with protected lands. BC now has 1,500 species at risk. A large mammal — the mountain caribou, found nowhere else in the world — is in serious danger of extinction. Watch Primeval to explore our Selkirk Mountain Caribou Park proposal. Click here to see maps and photos of the proposals.
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October 09, 2019 —
Twenty-three environmental groups, wildlife biologists, and animal protection organizations have sent a letter to BC Premier John Horgan and federal Environment Minister, Catherine McKenna, protesting BC’s refusal to protect additional habitat for BC’s rare Deep-snow Mountain Caribou. BC’s Forests Minister, Hon. Doug Donaldson, stated to the press (Nelson Star, Sept. 18, et al) that the southern herds already have enough habitat protected. The letter by the 22 signators calls the claim “inexcusably erroneous” and says the government should disavow it before further caribou recovery planning proceeds.The signators have called on Environment Canada to enforce the Species at Risk Act to increase habitat protection.
To view the letter and list of signators, click “more”
For more details see the posts below.
In September BC Forests Minister Doug Donaldson sent shock waves through the conservation community by announcing that only the Peace River region of BC will receive increased habitat protection for endangered Mountain Caribou. This denies additional protection to rapidly declining caribou herds of the Interior Wetbelt and other regions. Instead, the government plans to boost caribou numbers for some of these herds by slaughtering more wolves from helicopters and killing cougars; this would expand wolf extermination over a vast area of BC.
The Interior Wetbelt caribou are also called the “Deep-snow Mountain Caribou”. They are the only caribou in the world that live in steep mountains and spend winter in the deep snow of high-elevation subalpine areas, where they survive solely on a diet of tree lichens. Scientists have classified them as genetically distinct, different from all other caribou in their habits, endangered and irreplaceable.
In May 2018 the federal Minister of Environment declared these caribou under “imminent threat of recovery”, meaning that the full recovery of the herds may never be possible if habitat destruction continues.
The industrial and motorized backcountry recreation interests that destroy caribou habitat and displace the caribou from their critical feeding grounds are being very vocal in their opposition to increased habitat protection. We urge every possible Canadian concerned about BC’s drastic loss of biodiversity to write letters to government and media are urgently at this time.
Killing predators is now a standard prescription by both provincial and federal government biologists for saving caribou. But the federal government admits that predator killing must be combined with adequate habitat protection. If not, the destruction of habitat will reach levels where it is impossible to ever achieve a self-sustaining caribou herd. The existence of the herd will then be dependent upon permanent extermination of large carnivores and maternity pens, both of which are very expensive. To call this “recovery” is misleading to say the least. The federal government has warned that, without adequate habitat, if the predator killing and maternity pens ever stop, the caribou will simply continue to decline and die out.
The BC government didn’t tell this to the public when, in September 2019, it announced its refusal to increase habitat protection for Mountain Caribou other than in the Peace River region. At the same time, the environmental community received a leaked document sent by the BC government to “selected stakeholders” in a secret consultation process. It’s to expand helicopter wolf culls for the Hart Ranges caribou herd at the northern end of the Interior Wetbelt, and the Itcha-Ilgachuz and Tweedsmuir-Entiako herds of the west Chilcotin region. The Valhalla Wilderness Society (VWS) and numerous other environmental groups strongly oppose these wolf culls. They point out that the document did not disclose how much habitat has already been destroyed in these areas, and how much further destruction is planned in the future. (more…)
Not your average mustangs — dominant Spanish Barb blood has given the wild horses of the Chilcotin their unusual strength and beauty. They are national treasures.
Besides killing wolves and cougars to increase west Chilcotin caribou herds, the government also proposes reducing moose, elk, deer and even wild horses. Essentially, these animals would suffer culls because they are wolf and cougar food, and if the predators are exterminated, their primary prey will have to be culled too, to prevent a population explosion and overgrazing of the range. While there are moose, deer and elk in many places across Canada, wild horses are relatively rare.
The horse evolved in North America but apparently went extinct after the last Ice Age. They were brought back to the Americas by the Spaniards in the early 1500s, and some horse scientists and evolutionary biologists consider today’s wild horses a returned native species, not alien. Fossil remains of an earlier species of horse have even been discovered in the BC interior. They have been wild in the Chilcotin since about 1750. Genetic studies sponsored in part by VWS have determined that the wild horses north of the Chilko-Chilcotin River carry the dominant bloodlines of Spanish Barb horses brought to the Chilcotin by aboriginal peoples.
The caribou of the west Chilcotin belong to the Northern Group of Mountain Caribou. Their recent rate of decline is frightful. The Itcha-Ilgachuz herd had 2,000 animals in 2002. By 2016 there were only 841 animals. The amount and kind of habitat disturbance or protection, winter recreation closures, and hunting mortalities should be considered before we blame wolves and cougars.
The federal government’s 2014 Recovery Strategy cited as threats to the Itcha-Ilgachuz herd: “expected expansion of roads due to logging and mountain pine beetle salvage logging” and snowmobiling, saying “Increased levels of use are expected with an increased level of access created by industrial development, particularly mountain pine beetle salvage harvesting.” There is licensed hunting of the Itcha-Ilgachuz herd, as well as a likely significant First Nations hunt. The recent leaked government document offered no information on existence of these activities or their impacts on the caribou populations, yet the proposed predator-prey culls threaten a wide swathe of killing wildlife across the Chilcotin.
Photo: Jim Lawrence
West Kootenays, Trout Lake —The Central Selkirk caribou herd lost another six animals last year; at 25 animals, it is in high danger of being wiped out. Yet BC Timber Sales (BCTS) is logging some of the herd’s last remaining old-growth forest along Trout Lake in the Lardeau River Valley. “I have been seeing caribou tracks on the edge of the clearcuts,” says Jim Lawrence, President of Friends of the Lardeau River and prominent wildlife photographer. “The two governments’ continued disregard for caribou survival is outrageous and makes a mockery of the Species at Risk Act.”
“This has been happening while the federal and provincial governments have spent a whole year talking about how they are going to protect more caribou habitat,” says Craig Pettitt, a Director of the Valhalla Wilderness Society (VWS). “Now the BC government says it wants another two years to complete new herd plans.”