The end of 2017 brought the end to all grizzly bear hunting in BC, except for First Nations’ sustenance and ceremonial use. During the election, the new government administration promised the ban for all of BC, but announced post-election that only the Great Bear Rainforest on the coast would have a total ban; the rest of the province would be subject to a grizzly bear “meat hunt”. Forty-five environmental and animal care groups, bear scientists, grizzly bear viewing businesses and artists sent a letter to government and media charging that the meat hunt was a trophy hunt in disguise. Other groups joined in direct consultations with government, and four thousand people sent emails with 78% favouring an end to all hunting of grizzly bears in BC. Finally, on December 18, 2017 the BC Government announced a complete ban, with the exception of First Nations’ sustenance and ceremonial use. This momentous decision is just cause for celebration by all. The government has also committed to implementing the recommendations of the 2017 Auditor General’s (AG’s) report on BC’s grizzly bear management.
A recent photo and video expedition has revealed thousands of Western Toads are dispersing into their forested habitat that is slated to be imminently logged. The images and video show toads under logging equipment, on logging roads as well as on branch roads into the logging cut blocks. Branch roads were constructed in February 2016. Two weeks ago, NACFOR had started grading the logging roads while hundreds of toads were migrating across it.
“Now they have brought in a feller-buncher, which means logging could begin at any time,” says Craig Pettitt, a director of the Valhalla Wilderness Society. “We recorded young toads all around their machine. We are outraged that the government and NACFOR would allow logging in critical toad habitat when it is clear toads will be killed left, right and centre.”
Open Letter to B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell on the Killing of Wolves and Cougars to Save Mountain Caribou
Sixteen environmental organizations have signed a letter to Premier Campbell listing the reasons for their strong opposition to the killing of large carnivores (wolves, cougars, bears, wolverines) as a means to save the mountain caribou. Wolves and cougars are currently being trapped and shot as part of the Mountain Caribou Recovery Plan. The government has proposed to escalate the elimination of wolves by shooting them from helicopters.
Update on Wolf Kill Situation in Mountain Caribou Range
The BC government has apparently received a large volume of letters in opposition to killing wolves to save caribou, and has recognized the overwhelming public opposition in the press. An article in the Vancouver Sun by Larry Pynn (“We’re a never kill wolf province, public says,” March 18, 2010) summarized the current situation:
“The public has rejected the idea of an aerial wolf kill in B.C. to benefit threatened mountain caribou, even before the first gun has been loaded.”
“But whether the B.C. government listens to the public, or to the scientists who say the kill is vital for caribou recovery, remains to be seen.”
“Chris Ritchie, manager of species at risk recovery for the ministry of environment, said Wednesday the response has been overwhelmingly negative since the proposed aerial wolf kill became widely known in February.”
Thanks to the many letter writers, the BC Ministry of Environment has sent several kinds of reply letters to people who sent in their comments. The Valhalla Wilderness Society has sent a detailed rebuttal to the Premier and the Ministry of Environment.
Wolf Slaughter From Helicopters
Could Begin Soon in BC’s Interior Wetbelt
Sources wishing to remain anonymous have told the Valhalla Wilderness Society (VWS) that the provincial government will make a decision very soon on whether to begin slaughtering wolves from helicopters. The use of helicopters is an escalation of the wide-spread slaughter of wolves and cougars that has been happening over the last three years under the excuse of saving mountain caribou. Prey species that attract wolves are also being targeted for increased killing, especially moose. One knowledgeable source told VWS that hunters are now allowed to shoot cows and calves. Cougars are being eliminated in some areas.
Prime Minister of Canada: email@example.com
Minister of Indian Affairs John Duncan: Duncan.J@parl.gc.ca
Minister of the Environment Jim Prentice: Minister@ec.gc.ca
Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Gail Shea: Shea.G@parl.gc.ca
Source and Information Documents in PDF or HTML format available for download.
The Valhalla Wilderness Society works with scientists and researchers in a broad range of fields, such as wildlife biologists, forest ecologists, hydrologists, anthropologists, GIS map experts, geographers, terrain stability experts, botanists, and many others.
Proper science is a key tool in understanding the world around us, and recognizing the intricacies and fragility of the ecosystems in which we live. Too often, biased or faulty science is used by industries or government as the justification for proceeding with faulty projects, designed more out of concern for extracting maximum profits than with living responsibly on the earth.
Our research and background material in the form of press releases, fact sheets, information bulletins, and reports is made available to all. Much of this material can be accessed directly on the website’s individual project pages. If you are searching for a specific item, there is also a wealth of information in the links above.
The sharing of information, resource and research material with other ENGOs, communities, government and the general public furthers the progress of all environmental issues.
Final announcement February 1, 2016.
On February 1, 2016, the province and coastal First Nations announced the “final” protection agreement for the Great Bear Rainforest (GBR) on the BC coast. Since 1/3 of the GBR was protected in 2006, ten years of negotiations between the larger environmental groups, forest companies and coastal First Nations finally resulted in a GBR conservation agreement. Part of this can be found at: https://www.for.gov.bc.ca/TASB/SLRP/LRMP/Nanaimo/CLUDI/GBR/Orders/GBR_LUO_Signed_29Jan2016.pdf
There is some cause for celebration since noteworthy improvements have been made in coastal logging guidelines and in adding 10 new partially protected areas which brings the grand total of parks, conservancies and partial protection designations to 38% overall. This is near to the minimum of 40-50% full protection agreed to in 2004 in a landmark GBR-ENGO protocol. One of our favourite watersheds, The Green, will be protected, but unfortunately, Gribbell Island, mother island of the white bears won’t be. Also will be some reduction of the grizzly bear trophy hunt.
Read the full review
BC GOVERNMENT CARIBOU MANAGERS REPORT
DECLINING HERDS DISPLACED BY SNOWMOBILERS
Top government managers of B.C.’s Mountain Caribou Recovery Plan (MCRIP) have reported that the plan is failing to keep snowmobiles out of caribou’s winter habitat, even as caribou herds race towards extinction. In their 2015 briefing report to the MCRIP Progress Board (1), the government managers said that caribou are being displaced from winter feeding grounds by snowmobilers, some of whom are riding in areas legally closed to snowmobiling. The BC Government’s own Mountain Caribou Progress Board has called for voluntary snowmobile closures to become legal closures. But meanwhile the government is allowing a booming industry of groomed snowmobile trails into mountain caribou habitat, where snowmobile clubs are charging $25 per sled to use the trails. And the website of BC’s own Ministry of Environment provides a handy list BC snowmobile dealers and their phone numbers, in case you want a snowmobile to ride in mountain caribou habitat: a chilling example of the government’s double-faced policies, in claiming such concern for saving caribou as to require shooting wolves from helicopters, yet ignoring the packed-snow highways that snowmobiles make for wolves and cougars to have easy access to caribou in winter.
MOUNTAIN CARIBOU PLAN FAILED TO PROTECT
ADEQUATE INLAND TEMPERATE RAINFOREST
While the Province doles out tax dollars to kill wolves and pen caribou, logging
continues to destroy the caribou’s habitat, putting many other species at risk.
Ten environmental groups have sent a letter to BC Premier Christy Clark, urging the creation of new parks in the Interior Wetbelt. The groups say the parks would be for mountain caribou and for all species associated with Inland Temperate Rainforest. BC’s Conservation Data Centre website shows 40 red- and blue-listed species in the humid/wet cedar-hemlock forests where the mountain caribou range. The proposals are the Selkirk Mountain Caribou Park Proposal, the Quesnel Lake Wilderness and the Walker Wilderness in the Robson Valley. These areas have some of the highest biodiversity in the Interior Wetbelt, and they have formerly been recognized by the BC government as having high values for old-growth Inland Temperate Rainforest and Mountain Caribou. Instead the government is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on experimental techniques to kill wolves and pen pregnant mountain caribou. If the caribou are lost, all the habitat protected under the recovery plan could revert to logging and other industrial use. The BC taxpayers could be left with nothing to show for millions of dollars spent on years of caribou conservation: no caribou and no new parks to help other species at risk, while the caribou conservation zones revert to logging and other industrial use.
Download the full text of the press release
Download the letter to Premier Christy Clark
Fact Sheet on the Selkirk Mountain Caribou Park Proposal
Fact Sheet on the Quesnel Lake Wilderness Area Proposal
September 1, 2015
The Valhalla Wilderness Society (VWS) is calling for an independent review of two maternity penning projects for BC’s endangered mountain caribou, after seven caribou died in the pens this summer. One adult cow and four newborn calves died in a pen near Revelstoke; and in a similar project near Chetwynd, one calf was stillborn and one died of unknown causes. In addition, two cows in the Chetwynd pen may have aborted. VWS is calling for a panel of academic caribou experts not connected in any way with the projects or with government, saying that the projects are failing and may even be doing more harm than good. The VWS press release points out that a long line of industrial and recreational green-washers is sponsoring the programs, which shift attention away from desperately needed new habitat protection, and the need for expanded closures to snowmobiling and heli-skiing. Full Text
NEW RESEARCH SHOWS HABITAT LOSS DRIVING
SOUTH PEACE CARIBOU TOWARDS EXTINCTION
Eight environmental groups, Valhalla Wilderness Society, Pacific Wild, Raincoast Conservation Foundation, Wilderness Committee, Wildlife Defence League, The Association for the Protection of Fur-Bearing Animals, Wolf Awareness Inc., and Bears Matter, applaud a recently published scientific report that reveals how much habitat the caribou in the South Peace region have lost. The title of the report says it all: ‘Witnessing Extinction – Cumulative impacts across landscapes and the future loss of an evolutionarily significant unit of woodland caribou in Canada’ (Johnson et al., 2015).
“The findings of the report are shocking, but this is the very first time that, for a rapidly disappearing caribou population, we’ve had actual measurements of the amount and kind of habitat they’ve lost,” says Anne Sherrod, spokesperson for the Valhalla Wilderness Society. “Now that we know the habitat loss is severe, it puts a heavy responsibility on government to do something about it.” Full Text
OVER SIXTY CANADIAN AND INTERNATIONAL SIGNATORIES VOICE OPPOSITION TO THE B.C. WOLF KILL IN AN OPEN LETTER TO THE B.C. GOVERNMENT*
“B.C. Government scapegoats wolves for its failure to protect caribou habitat.”
February 25, 2015: For Immediate Release More than sixty organizations and concerned citizens not only from British Columbia, but also from around the globe have signed an open letter addressed to Premier Clark opposing the B.C. government’s ongoing wolf slaughter. The government has inhumanely slaughtered at least 24 wolves by helicopter in the South Selkirk Mountains and another 160 wolves either have been or are about to be killed from helicopters in the South Peace region by the end of this month. Furthermore, we have learned that that the B.C. government actually plans to continue the aerial killing of wolves for at least four more years, and it is willing to spend millions of tax dollars doing it. This means it won’t be hundreds of wolves that die because of government’s refusal to protect adequate habitat for caribou; thousands of wild wolves will be inhumanely shot from helicopters. The B.C. government claims that the wolf slaughter will “protect” the imperiled caribou in these areas from extinction, even though there is no scientific basis to its claim. For years, the B.C. government has sterilized and/or killed wolves while the caribou populations have continued to crash.
* Signators have since increased to 80
HEARTLAND OF THE KHUTZEYMATEEN GRIZZLY BEAR SANCTUARY
THREATENED BY PROPOSED PRINCE RUPERT GAS LNG ROUTE
Trans Canada Pipeline Company has been contracted by Petronas, a state company owned by the Malaysian government, to plan and build Canada’s biggest natural gas pipeline through two provincially protected conservancies that adjoin the Khutzeymateen Grizzly Bear Sanctuary on the BC North Coast. Survey work has already started for a major 200 foot-wide right-of-way that will include a major industrial road and compressor station needed for the 4-foot diameter pipeline.
According to VWS bear biologist Wayne McCrory “The survey is apparently being carried out with no park use permit, but with endorsement from the Premier’s office. However, a permit will be required for the next stage of creating drilling pads, and may soon be issued by the government; yet the public has been kept totally in the dark, only learning of the surveys from commercial bear viewing operators in the Khutzeymateen Inlet. Any permits issued in the protected conservancies will be in violation of the Park Act”.
If allowed, the roaded pipeline corridor through the wilderness parks will set a bad precedent and allow for more pipelines or transmission lines to follow. According to McCrory the pipeline corridor will shatter the ecological integrity of the whole area, and is a threat to every grizzly bear for miles around. People are urged to write Premier Christie Clark and Environment Minister Mary Polack to ask that the surveys be stopped immediately and the pipeline not be allowed in parks and conservancies (See Take Action). See also links to VWS press release and map below.