Letter: Concerned about options considered for caribou recovery

“The exploding wolf population is the cause of the depleting caribou and moose herds,” writes Frank Dorsey


I attended the Quesnel standing-room-only meeting re: Caribou Recovery this week and am very concerned with the reasoning and options that seem to be being considered to protect and grow the declining caribou herds.

This reduction in the moose and caribou populations in the Cariboo specifically is a relatively new occurrence.

I spent my formative years on a ranch in the Chilcotin and am very familiar with the animals in this area, as well as hunting, guiding and the need to protect and preserve nature. As young men, we all hunted and trapped, and as we got older, we began hiring out during the summer months with the local guiding outfits. Guiding was a big business for many years in the Chilcotin, helping the local economy and encouraging tourism in the outback country, leading to an appreciation of nature and the need for environmental awareness.

During the 1950s, the Game Department understood the need to keep the numbers of both the caribou and moose, as well as their predators balanced re: good management practices. When realizing that increasing wolf pack numbers were becoming a threat to the rest of the wild animals as well as to the domestic cattle, the government officials would often hire locals to poison wolves to keep their populations in check. Poisoning sounds harsh in today’s politically-correct environment, but some sort of culling is necessary. Perhaps by bounty would be a more acceptable option to curtail the exploding wolf population

Yes, the caribou are currently facing a ‘tough time,’ but without a doubt, the exploding wolf population is the cause of the depleting caribou and moose herds. With so many wolves needing to feed themselves, it stands to reason that they would be depleting the wild herds, as well as going after the ranchers’ range cattle and defenseless calves.

And trying to relocate caribou long distances from their natural habitat is obviously not a workable solution as your recent experiments have proven … and to add insult to injury, moving them from their Canadian home areas to places in the United States was just idiotic and wasteful.

Regarding how you do herd research, I understand you want to tag and track herds, but do you really think that chasing caribou around with a helicopter is proper conduct for people who are supposed to be in the conservation business? Before you can get anywhere close enough to them to shoot them with a tranquilizer gun, those poor animals are highly stressed and completely exhausted to the point their tongues are hangout out. That kind of tracking might be fun for your game officials, but why not contact the local guides or ranchers, climb on a horse and go find a caribou herd … that hands-on approach would give your people a much better appreciation for the needs of the animals and the environment, as well as the conditions the local ranchers deal with on a daily basis.

Finally, I was disappointed in the lack of public communication with regards to this issue. Why are you not contacting and encouraging input and involvement from the local ranching community, cattle associations, the guides and outfitters, fishers and the various recreation groups in addition to the native bands?

They all have a stake in the outcome. Perhaps you would be better served if you were to partner with the local ranchers and those communities having a vested interest, both financially and as people who live out there because they love the lifestyle, the vast open spaces as well as the wildlife. The locals know how important it is to maintain herd numbers and want to see it all preserved in a manner that serves all who live in the area, whether they be ranchers, guides, loggers, recreation seekers or just nature lovers.

It’s obvious by the number of concerned people who showed up at your community meetings, even with unfortunately minimal notice given. I myself was made aware of the meeting only by a Facebook post on a recreational site we belong to. Imagine how many people might offer helpful ideas for wildlife conservation if you were to promote and advertise such meetings and input opportunities?

Frank Dorsey



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