Wilderness Committee finds clearcut logging in critical habitat of at-risk southern mountain caribou
Mountain Caribou habitat laid low in cutblock R316 located in the Spahats Creek drainage, near the southern boundary of Wells Gray Provincial Park.Wilderness Committee submitted photo.
On Aug. 9, 2018, The Wilderness Committee released video and photos showing clearcut logging approved by the B.C. government near Clearwater, B.C. The clearcutting is in an area designated by the federal government as critical habitat for southern mountain caribou. Specifically, the at-risk Wells Gray herd of southern mountain caribou live in this region.
“These photos and video clips of a person operating a logging machine shows how much damage can be done to critical habitat in such a short time — dozens of trees in minutes and hundreds in hours,” said Wilderness Committee Co-Executive Director Joe Foy.
The government of Canada estimates there are only 3,800 southern mountain caribou remaining but populations are declining. Ten herds now are made up of fewer than 100 animals. In May, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Canada Catherine McKenna declared an “imminent threat” to their recovery. Which is why the Wilderness Committee was disturbed to find logging in habitat continuing.
The government of Canada has declared southern mountain caribou as threatened.
“The fact that our federal government has designated this forest as critical habitat for southern mountain caribou, who face an imminent threat of disappearing, apparently makes no difference to the B.C. government who continue to permit this extinction logging,” said Foy. “I don’t know what is worse — the fact that B.C. has permitted this or the fact that Canada is not enforcing its own laws.”
Mountain caribou need old forests to survive because only trees over 120 years old support the lichen these caribou require as a food source in the winter. Forest cover also helps keep wolf numbers low and caribou survival up.
The logging is located in the Spahats Creek drainage, near the southern boundary of Wells Gray Provincial Park. The cutblock is listed as R316 on B.C. government maps. This site is within the cutting area of Canadian Forest Products (Canfor).