Caribou endangered species, ‘declining at alarming rate’

Since the 1960s, clear-cutting has reduced their winter forage and increased predation by wolves and cougars

Editor, The Times:

An open letter to Don Kayne, CEO of Canfor and Mary Polak, minister of environment for B.C:

We teach at Thompson Rivers University, where we have told hundreds of students, in many courses, about mountain caribou.

They provide a classic example of a species endangered by human activity and are the focus of lectures on the effects of habitat fragmentation, among other topics.

We are now writing on their behalf.

They have declined at an alarming rate — 30 per cent since 2002 — and are now an endangered species.

In a letter to the Vancouver Sun (July16, 2012), Kayne portrayed Canfor as a progressive corporation, dedicated to upholding its social contract with British Columbians: “Canfor will not support actions that overturn landscape objectives set through public-planning processes unless there is full public consultation and support.

“We will not support actions that impact parks or critical habitat for species at risk.”

These words are difficult to reconcile with plans by Canfor Vavenby to conduct extensive salvage logging beside Wells Gray Park this summer.

These plans bring Canfor directly into conflict with Kayne’s stated commitments to public process, parks and to species at risk — especially mountain caribou.

Mountain caribou need old-growth forests.

Since the 1960s, clear-cutting has reduced their winter forage and increased predation by wolves and cougars.

Despite this, some biologists are cautiously optimistic that regenerated, aging forests in southern Wells Gray may trigger recovery of the park’s dwindling caribou population — which is unlikely to occur elsewhere.

In these times of economic uncertainty and deepening climate change, it seems reasonable to expect decision-makers to think hard about cause and effect.

Given Canfor’s pledge not to act in ways likely to adversely affect endangered species, we must assume that Kayne is unaware of the Vavenby planner’s proposal — or of its impact on caribou.

The area planned for logging should be added to Wells Gray Park, not logged.

We call upon Polak to establish a moratorium on industrial timber extraction in the southern Clearwater Valley, north of Spahats Creek, until a comprehensive, province-wide discussion on best use can be undertaken.

Nancy Flood and Lyn Baldwin

TRU faculty, Kamloops


Clearwater Times