Wolf and Cougar Slaughter to Aid Revelstoke Caribou Masks Extensive and Ongoing Caribou Habitat Destruction
January 23, 2017
A recent BC government document claims that the protection of large amounts of mountain caribou habitat near Revelstoke has failed to increase the number of caribou in the Columbia Forest District. It states that the “next step” is to slaughter wolves from helicopters, and kill cougars. This would represent an expansion of the helicopter wolf slaughter in BC from the South Selkirk and South Peace regions to the Revelstoke area.
However, according to a letter sent to the government by the Valhalla Wilderness Society (VWS), the report’s claim of large amounts of habitat protection in the area masks some dirty secrets. “We looked at the caribou reserves near Revelstoke on GoogleEarth, says Craig Pettitt, a VWS director.
“We were shocked to see that they are fragmented by hundreds of clearcuts, many of which were already there when the reserves were supposedly ‘protected’. These are not protected areas by anyone’s standards, and it certainly isn’t mountain caribou habitat. It has long been known to science that mountain caribou cannot survive in a patchwork of clearcuts and roads.”
Government has always claimed that the new habitat protection in 2009 was to be added to previous protection. But in the Revelstoke area, that has turned out to be false. The government “protected” about 7,400 hectares in 2009, but removed an almost equal amount from protection in old-growth forest reserves. And claims that logging was banned from the new caribou reserves appear to have been equally false in this particular planning unit: logging has continued inside of them.
In the same letter to the government,VWS asked why logging is occurring in the reserves, but, five weeks later, the Society has received no reply.
Due to these deceptive, so-called conservation initiatives, the once-very-large mountain caribou herd around Revelstoke has been fragmented into 3 subpopulations, one of which is nearly extinct with only 4 animals, while another has only 10 animals. The third, which had 124 animals in 2014, has lost 85 animals since 1994, and biologists believe it may also be declining.
The biologists’ recent report acknowledges logging of habitat critical to animals’ survival “still occurs” in the Revelstoke region, and “high levels of heli-skiing and snowmobiling may be having some effect” on the caribou.
However, they make no recommendation to increase habitat protection, curtail heli-skiing, or expand snowmobile closures. They merely comment that reducing the rate of logging would be helpful.
Their report points out that the Columbia South herd that historically used Glacier and Mount Revelstoke Parks is now nearly extinct.
“The real truth is only 30% of the range of the Columbia South herd is in those parks, and it’s mostly high-elevation habitat. The critical low-elevation habitat is mostly outside the parks and has been heavily logged, with extensive clearcutting almost up to the park boundaries in some places. I have documented relatively recent clearcuts in mountain caribou habitat within a half kilometre of Mount Revelstoke National Park.”
“We are flabbergasted at how little evidence of significant wolf predation the report has to show,” says Pettitt. For example, the report cites one caribou calf recently killed by wolves outside the maternity pen; yet it acknowledges that eight calves died inside the pens over two years.
“What does it take to see that other factors may be killing the caribou?” says Pettitt.
At a public meeting in 2016, government biologists announced that an ungulate nutrition expert had examined mountain caribou from the Revelstoke area, and had found them to be in poor condition. Numerous scientific studies have said that caribou cows in poor condition can abort their calves or give birth to weak, unhealthy calves that don’t survive long.
“Poor condition is indicative of poor nutrition, excess energy expenditure and stress due to habitat loss and displacement by logging, heli-skiing and recreational snowmobliing,” says Pettitt.
“The tragedy is that there is a big question whether there is enough intact mountain caribou habitat left in this area to support the caribou even if all the wolves, cougars, deer and moose were annihilated. The killing of these animals simply represents the loss of more of the area’s wildlife to gratify human greed and pleasure at all costs.”
A copy of the government document, entitled “Next steps for Southern Mountain Caribou recovery in planning unit 3A, the Revelstoke Shuswap Region” is at:
or available from VWS upon request.
A copy of the VWS letter to government is available at:
Box 329, New Denver, British Columbia,
Canada V0G 1S0
Phone: (250) 358-2333,
Fax: (250) 358-2748,