Caribou calf in a maternity pen near Revelstoke, to protect it from wolves until it is old enough to survive. (Black Press Media)

GUEST COLUMN: Condemning caribou to extinction in B.C.

Province’s two-year moratorium on new mining, logging not enough

By Michael Bloomfield and Robert Bateman

More than one year ago the federal government, as required under the Species at Risk Act (SARA), ordered B.C. to protect the critical habitat of southern mountain caribou. Now that B.C. has failed, Canada must impose an emergency order for caribou to survive and the SARA process to retain any credibility.

This story began in the 1970s when biologist Michael Bloomfield and others documented that widespread destruction of habitat by logging and other resource development threatened caribou survival. These majestic animals have roamed our forests and mountains for millennia and depend on large tracts of mature forest.

Since then successive B.C. governments have allowed our forests to be over-harvested so that the future of both caribou and workers are threatened. Simultaneously they failed to diversify the northern economy as jobs were lost to automation and a declining industry.

Now we have a crisis and government lacks the courage to deal with it. Despite irrefutable scientific evidence, government caved in to a propaganda campaign pushing the tired old falsehood of jobs versus environment.

The Conservation Agreement with Canada fails in many ways, resting heavily on killing wolves and penning pregnant females while doing nothing about hunting, harassment from recreational ATVs and ignoring the prime cause of decline, logging critical habitat.

RELATED: Caribou protection on hold as B.C. mends fences

RELATED: Killing B.C. industries won’t save the caribou

Why is the fight for caribou so important? Losing caribou, an apex species, means the loss of other wild species dependent on the same habitat. More than that, Canada’s northern forests are the world’s largest forest ecosystem, exceeding 25 per cent of the world’s remaining forest, containing 25 per cent of the world’s wetlands and more surface fresh water than anywhere else on Earth. These forests store twice as much carbon per acre as tropical rain forests and hold some of the cleanest water on the planet. They also are home to many First Nations.

Therefore, Canada’s northern forests are not only vital to our environment, culture and economy but to meeting our commitments on climate change, bio-diversity and indigenous rights. Continuing to allow damaging and unsustainable industrial practices is lousy social, economic and environmental policy. When sacred areas are despoiled, water supplies contaminated and forests decimated by logging, mining and oil and gas development, everyone loses, including our children and their children’s children.

With the stakes so high what should we do in BC? Adopt a province-wide caribou recovery plan with clear commitments for habitat protection and restoration.

• The agreement between BC and Canada fails to do that. To succeed, we also must end recreational hunting of caribou, remove RV and heli-skiing disturbance from critical habitat and abandon the heavy reliance on scientifically and morally questionable predator control.

• Convene a new Commission on Resources and Environment to update the 1996 CORE effort to lay out strategic plans and commitments for sustainability in our land-use practices. A northern economic diversification plan with input from affected communities must be part of that process.

No one demands a future without resource extraction; but it must be combined with more conscientious management of our forests, water and wildlife for generations to come. Instead of liquidating our resources for short-term gain we should learn from Norway, invest some of our resource wealth in long-term prosperity and pursue the clean-energy, knowledge-based economy of the future.

This may be our last chance to save mountain and forest-dwelling caribou in B.C.

Michael Bloomfield is Founder and Executive Director of the Harmony Foundation of Canada. Robert Bateman, renowned artist and conservationist, is Honorary Chair of the Foundation.

Just Posted

Haida Gwaii sportfishing lodges set to shut down

Tourism company wants to enact experiences more in line with Haida values

Immediate deal to reinstate AMHS in Prince Rupert not out of the question: Mayor Brain

B.C., Alaska officials fail to sign ferry deal in Juneau to reinstate service from Ketchikan

‘It affects everybody:’ Trudeau’s brownface photos worry Wet’suwet’en chief

Skeena-Bulkley Valley Liberal candidate declines to comment on prime minister’s indiscretion

Haida Gwaii art gala seeks submissions

Annual fundraiser supports local artists and programs

PHOTOS: Young protesters in B.C. and beyond demand climate change action

Many demonstaers were kids and teens who skipped school to take part

Graffiti, calls and Snapchat: RCMP probe string of threats targeting Kamloops schools

There have been nine different threats made to four different schools in the city

Oak Bay father’s testimony at murder trial like plot of ‘bad low-budget movie:’ Crown

Crown alleged Andrew Berry’s ‘entire story of Christmas Day is a lie’

B.C. truck drivers to face higher fines for not using winter tire chains

As of Oct. 1, not using chains on the highway when required could net you a $598 ticket

Singh campaigns in Toronto, May in Winnipeg, as Liberal and Tory leaders pause

All parties expected to be back on the campaign trail Sunday

Possible Canadian cases of vaping illnesses being investigated: health officer

‘I think that will be really important to address the overall trend of youth vaping’

Area 51 events mostly peaceful; thousands in Nevada desert

Three more people were arrested Friday on the remote once-secret military base

B.C. First Nation signs agreement to return its land on Vancouver Island

The land on the east coast of Vancouver Island will be returned to the We Wai Kai Nation

Former B.C. lifeguard gets house arrest for possession of child porn

Cees Vanderniet of Grand Forks will serve six months of house arrest, then two years’ probation

Most Read