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British Columbia: Killing Wildlife to "Save" Wildlife

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B.C. Government Killing Wild Horses and Wolves to Save Caribou
by Valhalla Wilderness Watch
The Vancouver Sun newspaper has learned that the BC Ministry of Environment has been paying aboriginal people to kill wild horses in the Chilcotin area of BC to use as bait to trap wolves. It's part of a program to increase the population of endangered mountain caribou. In addition, the Ministry of Forests has been paying aboriginal people to round up wild horses alive, to be sold at auctions where they are bought by slaughterhouses. The purpose is to clear the range for the ranchers' cattle.

Aboriginal people are divided on the issue.  Some say they've always rounded up wild horses and they need the money from selling them. But do the taxpayers of the province and the nation want to pay them to do that?
 

THE KILLING OF WILD HORSES AND WOLVES TO SAVE MOUNTAIN CARIBOU IS A SHABBY MANEUVER TO AVOID PROTECTING THE MOUNTAIN CARIBOU'S OLD-GROWTH FOREST HABITAT; IN THE END  THE MOUNTAIN CARIBOU WILL DIE TOO
 

There needs to be a public outcry against killing other species, purportedly to save the mountain caribou, because many scientists concerned about the mountain caribou are furious about the use of predator control to artificially pump up caribou numbers. Top carnivores such as wolves and cougars are critical to the health of ecosystems. They aid the survival of many plant communities and small animal species by keeping prey species as well as mid-sized predators in check. Areas where the top predators have been slaughtered have experienced heavy overgrazing of wildlife habitat and the subsequent death by starvation of thousands of deer and elk.


In 2007 fifty independent scientists signed a petition saying that predator control was being over-emphasized in the government's plan to recover mountain caribou populations. The petition calls, not only for protection of adequate habitat, but also for decommissioning hundreds of kilometres of logging roads that create travel lanes for predators to access caribou.

The real problem is that mountain caribou are dependent upon the same old-growth forest that the timber corporations want to log. In October of last year the BC government announced that it was "protecting" 2.2 million hectares of mountain caribou habitat. But beneath this cover, the government is adamantly unwilling to reduce logging significantly to save the caribou.

There are two ways to create an appearance of saving caribou without reducing logging. For one thing, the government can "protect" caribou habitat that is outside the Timber Harvesting Land Base. Such areas are abundant in BC because the mountain caribou live in steep, rugged mountains. The government can "protect" high altitude alpine meadows or sparse subalpine forest that are outside of the Timber Harvesting Land Base; "protecting" these areas (from what, we wonder?) will not reduce the allowable annual cut or the logging industry's wood supply.  It won't save caribou either.

However, the government can create the illusion of bringing back the mountain caribou by killing its predators and competitive prey species such as deer, elk and moose. This will boost the population long enough for the logging companies to get by with plundering the last remaining habitat of these animals. The mountain caribou would then be on artificial life support until they die out.

What has likely added an edge of desperation to the government's program is that BC will be host to thousands of foreign visitors visiting the 2010 winter Olympics. They will not be pleased to know that our government is involved in wiping out an endangered type of caribou. But they won't be pleased to know the government is slaughtering wolves, cougars and other predators either, so these programs are kept secret.

What the Vancouver Sun discovered is only the tip of the iceberg. We have learned that the BC Ministry of Environment has been trapping wolves in the South Selkirk Region, because a dog named Rosie recently stepped into the traps and had her legs crushed. She had to be euthanized. And we know that the government has removed the bag limits on wolves in a number of areas in mountain caribou habitat.

Please read the Vancouver Sun article and consider writing a letter to the government. You can find the newspaper article about the killing of the Chilcotin wild horses at http://www.vancouversun.com/opinion/unews. If you act quickly, you can also add a comment on the Vancouver Sun website, where many people have expressed their outrage. Letters to government should be sent to:
 
Premier Gordon Campbell                 Tom Ethier, Director
Room 156                                     Fish and Wildlife Branch
Parliament Buildings                        Environmental Stewardship Division
Victoria, BC  V8V 1X4                     Ministry of Environment
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.                         PO Box 9391
                                                   Victoria, BC_V8W 9MB
                                                   This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 
 
 
 
For information on the ecology of mountain caribou and wolves, and predator control in British Columbia, see How the BC Government is Killing Mountain Caribou by Valhalla Wilderness Watch at www.inlandtemperaterainforest.org. Mountain Caribou Greenwash by VWW, also available at the same website, tells the story of the BC government's misleading plan to "save" the mountain caribou.
 
Valhalla Wilderness Watch               
 P.O. Box 335, New Denver, British Columbia  V0G 1S0
  Phone:  250-358-2610; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


 December 6, 2008


ACTION ALERT! LETTERS NEEDED
 

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