The BC government is asking for input (by Oct 6, 2023) on a new Grizzly Bear Stewardship Framework that could open the door to trophy hunting and lead to extirpation of at-risk population units. While grizzly bear population data is still limited and detrimental impacts on population units are increasing, the province appears to be dishing out the power to decide the fate of the at-risk species to special interest groups and local or regional committees, instead of keeping wildlife management in the hands of qualified biologists…
WEST KOOTENAY — The Valhalla Wilderness Society (VWS) would like to thank the huge number of people who have poured out volunteer services, letters and donations for over twenty years to help save the Society’s Selkirk Mountain Caribou Park Proposal. The fabled “jewel in the crown” of that park proposal was the primeval forest of the Incomappleux Valley, with trees up to 1,800 years old. The campaign for the Selkirk Mountain Caribou Park proposal began around 2002. On Wednesday, Minister of Environment George Heyman announced… (read more)
While wolves die, old-growth forest is decimated
This information is mostly focused on the Deep Snow Mountain Caribou of BC’s Interior Wetbelt, which is an Inland Temperate Rainforest ecosystem. No other kind of caribou in the world spends winter in subalpine forests where the snow is up to 10 meters deep. They need to descend in spring to low-elevation forest. A food that’s key to their survival is tree lichens; trees must be at least 140 years old to grow enough lichens to support caribou.
Moose, deer and elk prefer young forest caused by fires and other conditions, where they can eat abundant vegetation, including young trees. Clearcuts have vastly increased young forest and depleted old forest, drawing and multiplying moose, deer and elk. Wolves prefer to eat these larger animals, and follow the moose, deer and elk into clearcut areas. The caribou become isolated in patches of forest left between the clearcuts, which makes them easy for predators to find. The most urgently needed conservation actions are protection of remaining old growth forest, restoration of already-disturbed habitat, and exclusion of winter recreation from high-value winter caribou habitat. These actions serve as non-lethal wolf control. Scientists say that killing predators without protecting enough habitat will not save caribou. Research has also shown that there is no statistical basis for wolf control as a conservation method for caribou. Read more to find the following information:
1. VWS’s View on Predator Culling for Mountain Caribou
2. Kinds of Mountain Caribou
3. Failure of the Mountain Caribou Recovery Plan
4. Misleading Government Rhetoric about Wolves and Caribou
5. VWS: 40 years working to protect caribou
Three new BC provincial parks have been proposed to permanently protect the most ancient and ecologically rich remnants of the Inland Temperate Rainforest ecosystem in BC. This globally rare and significant ecosystem is a massive carbon bank and stronghold for rich biodiversity. Valhalla Wilderness Society needs your help to permanently protect it for future generations.
Along the scenic Highway 31A, between New Denver and Kaslo, a developer has proposed a luxury resort for skiing and mountain biking, with a capacity for 1,750 guests a day. Gondolas would carry up to 1,500 guests a day onto London and Whitewater Ridges. The whole area is prime grizzly bear and mountain goat habitat, and is frequently used by many residents of the region for noncommercial recreation.
Thank you to all who supported our work over the past year. This year was an extremely eventful one for BC and we have summarized some of the greatest challenges that VWS and the province has faced, as well as some of our achievements made possible thanks to your support in our 2021 newsletter.
Declining salmon, emaciated, starving grizzly bears, wiped out caribou herds, disappearing moose. Under a thin veneer of science and sustainability, the economic priorities of the BC government are slowly but relentlessly taking a toll on BC’s wildlife. Hunting organizations are applying intense pressure to reinstate the hunting of Grizzly Bears and increase the killing of Black Bears, Wolves and Cougars. VWS has released a 28-page report refuting their claims.
Global amphibian populations have experienced significant declines in recent years, warning scientists of a greater biodiversity collapse that must be addressed immediately to keep our remaining ecosystems intact.
Valhalla Wilderness Society researchers are taking action to protect a significant population of BC’s native Western toad at Fish Lake in the West Kootenay’s Highway 31A corridor. Their efforts have also been expanded to a second important breeding area at Beaver Lake where planning for unnecessary population mortality is now underway.
Visit this link to read more about the ongoing project that’s now in its seventh year, and download a summary report from the first five years of our Western toad highway mortality mitigation project at Fish and Bear Lakes.
For more information, watch senior Western toad researcher Marcy Mahr’s presentation to Wildsight Revelstoke below.
Thousands of scientists are warning: loss of biodiversity and climate change threaten the future survival of humanity. The disappearance of Mountain Caribou is part of both of these crises. Protecting them is British Columbia’s responsibility…
The Central Selkirk caribou are Deep-snow Caribou that range between Nakusp, New Denver and Kaslo. Environment Canada has declared that all the Southern Mountain Caribou are under imminent threat to their recovery and must have immediate action…
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.
In 2018 Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) declared that BC’s endangered mountain caribou face imminent threat to their recovery under the Species at Risk Act. The Imminent Threat Assessment acknowledged that not enough habitat had been protected to sustain BC’s mountain caribou populations, and that BC’s ongoing wolf cull in the absence of further habitat protection would not protect caribou.
The ECCC assessment meant that the federal government could issue and Order for BC to protect more habitat, but since the report was released in 2018 BC’s southern mountain caribou herds have not received any additional habitat protection. The habitat protected during the 2007 Recovery Plan left a quarter to more than a third of the remaining core habitat unprotected for some herds and included heavily fragmented areas, steep slopes, burns and high alpine areas of almost no value to caribou. Some herds received almost no habitat protection, and all herds have continued to suffer massive habitat loss at the hands of government and industry, leading to continued herd extirpation.
Just three weeks before public meetings input meetings were to be held across BC, a team of ten biologists, including government advisors, released a paper claiming that previous wolf culls had improved caribou populations, and that changes in forest cover had had no effect (Serrouya et al., 2019). Media exploded with claims that saving caribou simply meant killing a lot of wolves. This led to inflammatory misinformation campaigns that dominated some of the public meetings, and was likely instrumental in Forests Minister Doug Donaldson then claiming that the southern mountain caribou herds would receive no further habitat protection.
During the slaughter of 463 wolves, and the ongoing destruction of caribou habitat, a team of six scientists (Harding et al., 2020) have spent over a year re-analyzing the data claiming that wolf killing should take precedence over habitat protection. Their review of the study found that it had serious flaws. The data showed no statistical basis for wolf culls and maternal pens in the conservation of mountain caribou, and no basis for claiming that habitat protection would be ineffective.
The photo above shows 2019 logging at Trout Lake, in habitat of the Central Selkirk herd of the Deep-Snow Mountain Caribou.