Park Place Lodge
Moratorium on logging

Four years after British Columbia and Canada signed an agreement to protect British Columbia’s southern mountain caribou, Wildsight is calling for an interim moratorium on logging and road building in core southern mountain caribou habitat until permanent protections are in place.

Under the bilateral ‘section 11 agreement’, signed on February 21, 2020, B.C. committed to both immediate and long-term actions to stabilize the endangered species’ plummeting population, including increasing protection of caribou habitat. With one year left before the agreement expires, almost no progress has been made, and caribou habitat continues to be logged.

“Only one third of the Columbia North herd’s core habitat is protected, despite the federal recovery plan recommending that all of this herd’s core habitat be protected,” says Eddie Petryshen, Wildsight Conservation Specialist.

“In the meantime, the government has continued to approve and try to auction off numerous cutblocks that overlap with the herd’s range, including over 200 hectares in the Wood River Basin and 620 hectares in the Seymour River watershed. Over one third of the Columbia North caribou herd’s core habitat is now disturbed by roads and cutblocks.”

In the Kootenay and Columbia region of eastern B.C., seven deep-snow caribou herds have gone locally extinct since 2005, including two since the section 11 agreement was signed. Logging impacts — both from the destruction of core caribou habitat, and logging roads giving predators easier access to caribou herds — have driven these losses.

“The provincial and federal governments have watched as caribou have disappeared from our mountain ecosystems. B.C. and Canada have spent millions on stop-gap measures, but until they begin tackling the root causes of the problem — habitat loss and fragmentation — caribou populations won’t recover,” Petryshen says.

In 2014, the federal government released its southern mountain caribou recovery strategy, which recommended limiting disturbance to critical caribou habitat. In the five years after the strategy was released, more than 90,900 hectares — an area equivalent to over 227 times the size of Vancouver’s Stanley Park — of critical caribou habitat was logged in B.C.

“Without urgent protection of core caribou habitat from logging and road building, herds like the Columbia North and Groundhog herds will go extinct and B.C. will lose its deep-snow caribou forever. If that happens, the responsibility will sit squarely on B.C. and Canada’s shoulders for failing to do the one thing they knew could save these animals,” he says.

The section 11 agreement also included a commitment to conduct southern mountain caribou habitat analysis and make recommendations for additional habitat protections by the end of 2022. Some analysis has been completed, but no recommendations for additional protections have been made.

“If we’re going to save deep-snow caribou, we need action on the ground and we need the federal and provincial governments to protect their core habitat immediately.”

Photo: David Moskowitz

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