Please sign and share Valhalla’s online petition to create the Selkirk Mountain Caribou Park – see petition and learn more here! https://www.change.org/p/save-bc-s-ancient-temperate-rainforest-primeval
As two of Canada’s senior wolf biologists, we are disturbed the B.C. government is implementing massive wolf control plan with the low probability of recovering a few small, isolated, range-edge herds of mountain caribou.
As university-based biologists, we have run the longest, most intensive, telemetry-based wolf research program in Canada. We have published two books on our wolf research and many scientific papers including two on what constitutes valid biological evidence to assess the role of predators in limiting prey numbers.
Assessing the ecological consequences of a major intervention such as predator control is a complex task filled with uncertainty. The need for the government to explain itself is underlined by an amazing statement in its 2014 wolf management policy: “Attempts to control wolves to reduce predation risks on caribou has been a provincial priority since 2001. Wolf densities have been reduced; however, at this time, a correlation between reduced wolf densities and caribou recovery cannot be substantiated.”
Why has past wolf killing not worked? The government’s chosen reason seems to be wolf killing needs to be more intensive, and more long lasting; that choice is inferred in the wolf management policy. Another possibility is that no rise in caribou numbers is possible because of habitat destruction, regardless of the presence of wolves. Starvation, climate-caused winter kill, predation by bears and/or cougars, accidents such as avalanches and other unpredictable events are have taken a major toll.
We would place our bets, however, on a third reasons that wolf killing has not lead to caribou recovery. Over much of B.C., what is known as an ecological phase shift has happened. Ecologists know of such shifts: witness the fish and wildlife tragedy of the Bering Sea, and the non-recovered cod fishery of the Atlantic. Phase shifts are based on one-way environmental alterations in trophic and other complex ecosystem interrelationships. New species crowd out the potential for recovery of old ones. Recovery is generally beyond the scope of management intervention.
Across much of B.C., massive forest cutting has resulted in gross habitat alteration and fragmentation. The cost? A phase shift. Moose, benefiting from early successional forests after logging and other land uses have greatly extended their range in B.C. Numbers of elk and deer have adjusted, too. However, caribou, especially the southern mountain ecotype, have declined due to a loss of critical older-growth, lichen-clad forests. They have been victims, too, of habitat fragmentation preventing herd-to-herd “metapopulation” flow that once reduced risks of local, herd extinctions.
Ecosystems are made up of interacting parts. Removing predators constitutes a major perturbation. It is a slippery slope, where, when you start, you are doomed to increasing intervention with unknown consequences. With fewer wolves, will moose and elk populations increase? Will their browsing inhibit forest regeneration? Should they be killed, too? (In B.C.’s 2010 plan for an aerial wolf kill, moose reduction was a management prescription, too) If caribou numbers were to increase, would grizzlies and black bears become more common predators on caribou? What then, kill them? (In the Revelstoke region, bears — grizzly and black — were the major predator on caribou from 1992-2006, according to an internal ministry report.)
How long do you keep on intervening in dubious and unpredictable ways? It takes 75, maybe 100 years to grow forest stands with the structure to maximize arboreal lichens that have long fed caribou. In the meantime, what does climate change deal out?
Until he retired in 2000, John Theberge was a professor with the Faculty of Environmental Studies at the University of Waterloo in Ontario. John’s co-researcher and wife, Mary Theberge, is a wildlife illustrator and educator.
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Please sign letter to Premier Clark and share with contacts: https://www.change.org/p/save-b-c-wolves
This petition will be delivered to:
B.C. Liberals:Premier Christy Clark,Minister of Forest, Lands and Natural Resource,Hon. Steve Thomson,B.C. Minister of the Environment,Hon. Mary Polak, Green Party Leader,Elizabeth May
Assistant Deputy Minister – Ministry of Forest, Lands and Natural Resource Operations,Tom Ethier Conservation Director, Pacific Wild,Ian McAllister
Save B.C. Wolves!
Pacific Wild Denny Island, B.C., Canada
January 15, 2015
B.C. Government green-lights controversial wolf hunt in the South Selkirk and South Peace regions. As many as 184 wolves to be shot from helicopters.
Decades of habitat destruction and human encroachment have left BC’s mountain caribou on the edge of survival. Instead of protecting critical food and habitat for caribou, such as the lichen rich interior forests, the BC government has now placed the blame on wolves. Over 180 wolves are now being targeted for aerial killing in the next two months. These highly social and intelligent animals, icons of our natural heritage, should not be killed because of government negligence. Killing all the wolves in BC won’t bring the caribou back in the absence of habitat protection.
Wolves are highly social and intelligent animals and research shows that predator kill programs increase reproductive rates in wolves and destabilizes pack structure causing more predation of livestock and other non-native prey.
It is the view of Pacific Wild that this announcement is scientifically unsound and that wolves are being used as a scapegoat to divert attention from the fundamental problem of ongoing habitat destruction and displacement caused by human encroachment.
“This is not management, it’s a tax-payer funded kill program of one of our most iconic species.” said Ian McAllister, Conservation Director for Pacific Wild. “This is not only a horrific day for wolves in British Columbia but a sad day for public engagement and policy that will surely bring international condemnation to our borders.”
Please consider DONATING to Pacific Wild’s Save BC Wolves Indiegogo campaign here.
Learn more and support the campaign to end the wolf kill and educate the public about this issue.
Share through social media: @pacificwild #saveBCwolves
Contact Pacific Wild: firstname.lastname@example.org
Pacific Wild is a B.C. based non-profit wildlife conservation organization and a leading advocate for changes to wolf management in British Columbia. www.pacificwild.org
B.C. Liberals Premier Christy Clark
Minister of Forest, Lands and Natural Resources Hon. Steve Thomson
B.C. Minister of the Environment Hon. Mary Polak
and 3 others
Green Party Leader Elizabeth May
Assistant Deputy Minister – Ministry of Forest, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Tom Ethier
Conservation Director, Pacific Wild Ian McAllister
Save B.C. Wolves!
Honourable Minister Steve Thomson
Honourable Minister Mary Polak
Assistant Deputy Minister Tom Ethier
Save BC Wolves Campaign
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