The US Cabinet
Mountains for example, just 80 kilometers south of the
Canadian border, is home to less than 15 grizzlies.
Last year 3 bears were shot here because they
went into town. These bears, two of whom were females,
come from the last population of bears in the region.
The grizzlies to the South have been wiped out.
areas no longer have any bears left.
It doesn’t take a lot to alter an area so that bears
do not feel good about crossing the road or highway.
For instance, in the
South Purcells near Creston and Cranbrook, very few
bears still successfully cross the #3 highway.
This can lead to isolated populations that are
more susceptible to extinction.
Grizzly females generally do not cross a roads or
human settled areas.
Grizzly researchers are trying to find out where
bears are still crossing our valleys, and managing the
landscape to maintain this.
structures on highway #1 near Banff are starting to
become part of the animals life. The animals did not use
these structures at first, but in areas where the animal
has grown up with the structure, they will use the
structure in order to cross the highway. Previously,
overpasses were created. Underpasses would also be
effective as they would be more natural.
Previous Wildlife Stressors
The bears used to
count on salmon and berries in order to double their
mass for hibernation. Since the development of the Grand
Coulee Dam, there are no more salmon. The Canadian
Government was asked if they would like the Dam to
incorporate a fish ladder, but the Canadian Government
decided that they had enough salmon and now the bears
live mostly on berries. The bears main source of protein
and fat died along with the salmon that could no longer
make it up the rivers to spawn. Gone with the bears are
the burrowing owls and other creatures who relied on
grasslands that were flooded under the Kookanusa Dam.
How beautiful is a province that is losing it’s habitat
The least we can do as a province is help save our
In the last 10
years, up to 25% of the Caribou population has died out.
Over 50% of caribou habitat no longer supports caribou.
There are only
Caribou remaining in
BC. These caribou are now isolated into as many as 18
different herds, many which do not have the opportunity
to mate with herds' outside their own. As few as
20 remain in the
40 in the South
8 in the Kimbasket,
7 in the Monashees.
All of the herds but one (the largest herd known
as the Hart Range Herd) have declined by 50% or more
over the last decade.
Some herds, such as the George Mountain herd, have
recently gone extinct.
These herds are very small, and many of these
herds are unable to mate with another herd. As you know,
having a very small heard that is unable to mate with
other herds does not lead to a very robust herd.
Dave brought up an
important factor: The Kootenays used to be heavily
forested , in some areas with large old-growth like the
West Coast, with huge cedar. I grew up in this area and
spent a lot of time outdoors. However, I had always
thought of this area as loosely populated with small
varieties of tamarack, spruce and alder. This area was
deforested many years ago in order to provide for the
making of the railway. Also, mining had a large impact
on early forests, instead of chopping down the trees and
working through the devils club in order to make way for
mining and other development, fires were set so that the
valleys could more easily be prospected.
Valley bottoms are critical winter habitat.
The caribou tend to
head for the valleys during the early winter because
there is less deep snow at lower elevations. However,
for much of the year mountain caribou can be found in
upslope old-growth forests.
canopy intercepted much of the early season snow,
allowing animals to move more easily and find more food.
It is much easier for the caribou to move around in
areas with less snow, as it takes a lot more energy for
the caribou to move its huge body through deeper snow.
The valleys have less snow during the winter, compared
to areas of deep snow up in the mountains.
Because of logging, the caribou must move up slope into
the deeper snow in order to find food.
Much of the historical caribou habitat has been lost to
And still logging companies, including our vary own BC
Timber Sales, continue to log endangered caribou
Mountain caribou do
not thrive in “new” forests (clear cut or clear block
creates great habitat for elk, moose, and deer, which
move into what was historically mountain caribou
Cougar and wolf follow them up the mountain.
Now caribou bump into prey such as cougars.
Forestry also allows
increased access to motorized recreation, such as
snowmobiles, into mountain caribou habitat.
Higher up the mountain, other stressors are apparent as
the animals that require peace and solitude for survival
now have to deal with motorized vehicles.
stressors include: development, timber harvesting,
neighborhood encroachment into endangered species land,
motorized recreation such as snowmobiles and
helicopters, and global warming.
Radio telemetry has shown that caribou abandon areas
that are heavily used by snowmobiles.
Some of our parks
(including Monashees, Caribou Mountains, Goat Range, and
Bugaboo Provincial Parks) actually allow heli skiing – a
major winter stressor for wildlife.
The entire winter feed for a caribou is witches hair
and old mans beard – hair lichens that grow in abundance
only in old-growth forests.
These caribou spend
more energy living in an environment they normally don’t
live in. The energy is spent on wading through deeper
snow, trying to find food in deeper snow. This means
that the caribou must eat more in order to sustain
itself. Does this environment provide this nourishment
Due to development
and motorized recreation, they are forced to expend
another more energy on listening for and worrying about
snowmobiles and helicopters, and more energy still
moving away from these noises.
One of the biggest issues that threaten caribou
is the easiest to fix through legislation:
show up for the Big
Iron Shootout in the Revelstoke area at Boulder
Mountain, and drive from one mountain to the next. They
look like their own heard of caribou. The
snowmobilers’ favorite spots are the big open areas and
areas that you can figure eight around from tree patch
to tree path. These are the same trees that the caribou
depend on but can no longer reach safely.
For some herds, such
as the Central Selkirks herd,
is very hard to find mountain caribou habitat where you
can’t hear snowmobiles or helicopters, during the winter – almost the entire
herd range for this herd has been given out to
commercial recreation tenures such as heliskiing, cat
skiing, and snowmobile tours.
There is no
snowmobile enforcement, no licensing, and few if any
closed areas in BC, and everyone knows this. People come
from Alberta and all over the world in order to
snowmobile unhindered in Beautiful British Columbia,
which is open to almost any business.
mountains are like fingers on your hand.
one finger cut off in order to developed a ski resort
you have now created an island that is cut off from the
rest of the hand.
www.jumbowild.com for more
information on how to stop a proposed ski resort
development in the heart of the wild Purcells.
Threshold of tolerance is being reached on a grand
Global warming is
another threat to our diversity. In another 10 years,
Glacier National Park will no longer have any glaciers.
The glaciers are melting all over the world.
Trains no longer
have to stop for a heard of 150 caribou. That’s more
caribou than our entire area has.
Logging still takes place in endangered species
habitat, including caribou habitat.
Listen up current and soon to be natural resources
The scientists have
asked for protection of the endangered species. The
government has responded with a modified version that in
some cases focuses on use of culling predators.
Culling is not the answer
BC’s idea of a
recovery plan depends on culling
the predators of the
Caribou in order to save the Caribou. Killing other
animals to save another animal is NOT the answer.
If you have a heard
of 20 caribou and a cougar near by, it may make sense to
some to kill that cougar, but a better answer would be
to have more caribou habitat to support more caribou as
well as other animals.
Even a dummy can figure out that
Habitat = No wildlife
More Habitat = More Wildlife
Other facts that I have learned about the caribou from
Caribou (a different subspecies from mountain caribou –
found in Northern Canada): Stressors such as global
warming, and predator encroachment have stressed the
remaining animals to a point where the Caribou are now
There are more mosquitoes
The Caribou now
spend much of their time running from hundreds of
mosquitoes that overrun herds due to an extra degree or
two in temperature difference in the caribous summering
lands. Running around means that the caribou are not
fattening up, instead they are getting skinner and run
down. Caribou are unable to make it across the raging
rivers in order to get back to their winter grounds
because they are already so worn down, even before
winter begins. Babies are being left behind. The
indigenous people have been carrying the babies across
the rivers so that the babies have a chance of staying
with the herd.
Caribou have not fattened up enough to last through the
even leaner winters.
During the winter,
the caribou are unable to get to food under the snow
because one or two extra degree's in temperature means
that a layer of ice is now covering their food, which
lays beneath the snow. Caribou are getting exhausted and
hurt trying to stomp through this ice, often leaving the
caribou unfed. Their legs are cut and leave bloody
above information is an overview of a lecture taken from
“A Purcell Traverse
from Kimberly to Rogers Pass by Foot and Ski, and an
update on BC’s Recovery Plan for Endangered Mountain
An Evening of Images
and Tales from the Kootenays with Photographer, Author,
and Conservationist Dave Quinn.
Hosted by Mountain Equipment Co Op (MEC) & the UBC
Varsity Outdoor Club. Feb 14, 2007.
Endangered Wildlife and Habitat need our help to
survive. You can help.
Take Action: The power of 5
Each letter sent to the
Government has the power of 5 in the decision making
process. The Government looks at each letter as if 5
people have the same belief as the person sending in the
letter. So please send in your letters. Every letter,
ever postcard, every email and every signature on a
petition is important and really does make a difference.
You can help with other campaigns by:
1) Having a letter writing party!
2) Using a form letter with an attached petition
3) Send in a premade postcard
Sandra for a Session