VANCOUVER – Video footage and photography obtained by the Wilderness Committee has revealed a massive logging operation in southern mountain caribou habitat, which could put the recovery of this endangered population at risk.
The images show a large area of forest being actively clearcut logged on a slope above the Clearwater River, which is the gateway to B.C.’s fourth largest provincial park, Wells Gray.
The logging is occurring in a forest designated as Southern Mountain Caribou Critical Habitat by Environment Canada in 2014.
“We were shocked to see this huge logging operation smack-dab in the critical habitat zone of this threatened species,” said Joe Foy, National Campaign Director for the Wilderness Committee.
The logging within Canfor’s (Canadian Forest Products) forest tenure area located near Clearwater, B.C., is now visible from the main road leading to Wells Gray Provincial Park.
“The reason why this forest was designated as critical habitat is that when you log it you increase the deer and moose population, who feed on the new growth. That in turn attracts wolves – which kill caribou. And since there are only about 130 caribou left in the southern Wells Gray area – that is a huge problem. This herd continues to decrease,” explained Foy.
“A request for an emergency stop work order went to the federal environment minister back in April,” said Trevor Goward, spokesperson for a local citizens’ group. “For many people who live in the area, who can see and hear the logging day after day, the long wait for Minister McKenna to take action has been painful.”
Foy charged that when the federal government put out its southern mountain caribou recovery plan in 2014 – without enforcing a ban on logging critical habitat – it has provided an incentive for logging companies to hurry up and log habitat before they are prohibited from doing so.
“The federal government has put a big bullseye on these forests – and that is creating a disaster for caribou and for wolves too, who are facing increased government-sanctioned wolf-killing schemes as a result,” said Foy.
“The hope now is that the new NDP/Green government in Victoria will cooperate with Ottawa in time to save these caribou from being logged to extinction,” concluded Foy.