Mountain caribou numbers are dwindling in Columbia-Shuswap region. (File photo)

Column: Will measures planned be enough to save mountain caribou?

Shuswap Outdoors by Hank Shelley

Although it’s been a number of years of retirement, I still recall important events which occurred during my time as a fishery officer that affected wildlife and the environment.

One happened on the North Fork forestry road running back to Seymour Arm.

We patrolled many back roads, checking logging operations, landing sites, stream conditions pertaining to salmon/trout habitats, and illegal taking of old growth cedar for shake wood.

This particular cold October morning, I stopped an older brown truck laden with shake blocks.

The driver/owner had no timber mark paper work so he was charged, but he also told me of a large pool of blood and drag marks, indicating someone had shot an animal.

Sure enough, the three-year-old caribou cow had been dragged behind an old cabin, and covered with brush and ferns.

Two Conservation Officers from Vernon and an RCMP corporal from Sicamous set up road blocks. The poachers were finally found, but the Crown dismissed the case. That was 2001.

The small band of caribou always crossed near an old sawmill burner site, wintering in big spruce/cedar by Seymour Arm.

Here, they survived the winter on lichens and moss hanging from the trees.

Read more: Columbia-Shuswap governments promised voice in Caribou recovery

Read more: Fewer than 250 caribou remain in Columbia-Shuswap

Read more: Video – Grizzly bears fight along northern B.C. highway in rare footage

At a caribou survival meeting held at the curling rink in Armstrong this spring put on by MP Mel Arnold, I chatted with a forester who stated they are logging old growth back in those same areas.

Will the remaining 11 animals survive? With lumber and harvesting profit compared to these caribou and the $69 million the government proposes, including the calving pens above Revelstoke, will it work?

Predators like wolves and cougars, along with climate change and logging, despite closed areas, will still make it difficult for the animals to survive in a quickly changing environment.

Animal antics: Recently seen on television, a black bear chasing mountain bikers on Vancouver’s North Shore. It also happened a couple of seasons back on trails at Larch hills.

Other antics: An owl attacking a chap with a hat. A grizzly bear chasing a man on a bike down a busy national park highway.

Could be, some animals are getting discouraged at the large number of humanoids invading their habitats.

Banff and Jasper national parks are feeling the pressure.

The bull elk that attacked a couple of tourists last week in another park shows that animals and people just don’t mix.

***

Weather permitting, fall angling is a great pastime, so get out to enjoy the fall colours with some time on the water.


@SalmonArm
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