Snowmobiles, skiers drive critically endangered Central Selkirk caribou from high-quality winter habitat to marginal habitat

VWS PROPOSES A MODEST COMPROMISE FOR EXPANDED WINTER RECREATION CLOSURES

Only 24 Central Selkirk caribou have survived. These are the Deep-snow Caribou that range between Nakusp, New Denver and Kaslo. What humans do this winter could decide their fate forever. Every year BC biologists have been reporting that these caribou are abandoning their high-quality winter habitat due to heavy use by snowmobiles, and cat- and heli-skiing. They have been pushed into marginal habitat. This can mean steep slopes with low amounts of lichens they need for food. It can cause poor nutrition, excessive energy expenditure, and reproductive failures in spring: dead cows, stillborn calves, or calves too weak to run from predators. It can also mean increased risk of deaths by avalanches.

ONLY 3.3% OF THE WINTER RANGE (UWR) HAS BEEN PROTECTED FROM SNOWMOBILING

The area that the BC government set aside in 2007 for the Central Selkirk caribou, called Caribou Ungulate Winter Range (UWR), is insufficient for their protection and has left out known occupied habitat. 96.7% of the Central Selkirk UWR is still open for snowmobiling and cat-skiing, and part of that is on steep slopes tracked by avalanches. Multiple overlapping heli-skiing tenures cover approximately half of the range of the Central Selkirk herd.

VWS WANTS TO EXPAND THE SNOWMOBILE CLOSURES TO 6.5% OF THE UWR

Some snowmobilers say they want to save the caribou and  they are willing to limit where they ride. Others are unwilling to have any further restrictions. The caribou actually need all of their high-quality winter range. But a compromise to expand the closures from 3.3% to 6.5% might  make an important difference if it is located in the highest quality winter habitat.

Government is considering an experiment with temporary, mobile snowmobile closures that follow the caribou. But mobile closures will not return the high-quality feeding areas that people have taken away from the caribou. The caribou need some winter sanctuaries that stay put.

Download the petition

to support the proposed expansions and send to Valhalla Wilderness Society/P.O. Box 329/New Denver, BC/V0G1S0. The total proposed, expanded closures shown below constitute 6.5% of the Caribou Winter Range for the Central Selkirk herd. Winter recreationists would have all the rest of the winter range plus areas outside of it. The purple colour on Silvercup Ridge shows open, high-elevation terrain for snowmobilers.

 

 

Valhalla Wilderness Society

© 2016, Valhalla Wilderness Society