October 26, 2005
So Long Caribou?
In a troubling new development for mountain caribou, the BC government is considering abandoning efforts to sustain the most threatened and isolated populations of mountain caribou in the province. That decision would almost certainly be a death knell for the few remaining caribou, the Selkirk herd, that continue to visit the continental United States. (Read the full reporting in the Globe and Mail.)
The Selkirk caribou roam in remote areas of British Columbia, Idaho, and Washington, but they are clinging to precarious existence with fewer than 3 dozen animals, despite repeated "augmentation" efforts. Cross-border cooperation and restoration efforts have been critical to the survival of the Selkirk herd and without BC support those caribou are not likely to be long for this world. Protecting these last visitors to the lower 48 is a good example of the big hurdles faced by those who would protect and restore ecosystems. Not only are the ecological problems thorny, but the problems are complicated by the fact that wildlife, habitats--and environmental problems generally--don't observe the political boundaries that are usually the foundation of our policies for restoration, such as they are.
UPDATE: A good article in the Seattle Times on the reactions from both Canadian and American conservationists. For example:
"The international transborder herd would be written off for extinction," said Joe Scott with Conservation Northwest of Bellingham. "That's totally and completely unacceptable."
Posted by Eric de Place | Permalink
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