Restoring the environment is slowly becoming increasingly more important, and for good reason.
Saving the environment (habitat) vs. introducing an experimental Band-Aid (culling wolves) is a heated debate in British Columbia, and nationwide.
Experimental culling has taken place in areas with little success to restore a specific species. Should inhumane culling of one species to save another be acceptable?
The population of Mountain Caribou herds in British Columbia have been in decline for more than a decade. The current Management Plan (prepared by the B.C. Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations 2014) to correct the decline in caribou populations in the South Peace and South Selkirk region is to cull 184 wolves over a five-year period.
This will be carried out by shooting wolf packs from helicopters. This inhumane decision will test the ability of caribou populations to recover over time, putting their damaged habitat second to repair.
As community members, we should be conscious of this event that could potentially lead to the collapse of other ecosystems in British Columbia.
All ecosystems require a fine balance in order to sustain biodiversity. Shifts in species population can either aid in the decline of a species, or take pressure off another species, and in turn cause populations to increase.
Wolves are a keystone species, indicating that they are at the top of the food chain.
They keep ecosystems in balance by consuming herbivores such as deer, which then keep a healthy balance of shrub and grasslands.
In British Columbia, wolves use predominantly low elevations where prey is most abundant, although they can be found at all elevations and will shift habitat with seasonal changes in diet.
In winter months caribou live in high elevations with deep packed snow. This pristine habitat is critical for the survival of caribou populations.
Over the years this habitat has been damaged due to changes in landscape related to forestry, development and recreational activity such as snowmobiling.
These changes to landscape create routes that wolves and other predators can then access to advance to higher elevations to hunt.
This is an important issue for community members to engage and become involved in through discussions that the provincial government is controlling regarding this issue.
Local and regional communities who have wolf and caribou populations have the opportunity to provide more sustainable ideas to correct the issue of caribou populations in British Columbia.
In turn, this could push the provincial government to change tactics, and possibility eliminate culling as an option.
The B.C. Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations and B.C. Ministry of Environment state that they will consider recommended objectives and management actions from the public when developing new, or modifying existing, provincial policies, procedures, and regulations related to wolf management.
I hope I have inspired readers to have a voice for the environment. Initial repair of the original damaged habitat would in turn self-correct most damage over time – healing the main source of life, the environment.
We need to ensure that all species are protected to remain a healthy balance for future generations.
Prince Rupert, B.C.