bears and more • Klaus Pommerenke
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13. Mai 2010
Offener Brief an die Regierung von BC, um gegen den geplanten
Abschuss von Wölfen von Helikoptern aus zu protestieren
Im Folgenden finden Sie unseren offenen Brief an Premierminister Campbell, Umweltminister Penner und Tourismusminister Krueger sowie das Antwortschreiben des Umweltministeriums:
Premier of British Columbia
Hon. Gordon Campbell
Victoria, BC V8W 9E1
Ministry of the Environment
Hon. Barry Penner
Victoria, BC V8W 9E2
Ministry of Tourism, Culture and the Arts
Hon. Kevin Krueger
Plans of the Ministry of the Environment to hunt wolves from helicopters – tourists from around the world are shocked and reconsider their plans to visit BC
Dear Mr. Campbell, dear Mr. Penner, dear Mr. Krueger,
we want to protest against one part of the mountain caribou recovery plan: the use of helicopters to kill wolves.
The mountain caribou recovery plan places heavy reliance on the killing of wolves and cougars. The use of helicopters would be an escalation of the widespread slaughter of wolves in BC and especially tourists from Europe are shocked to hear that the Ministry of the Environment probably will make a decision very soon to allow this kind of managing predator populations: shooting wolves from helicopters.
Even a very aggressive reduction of 80 % or more of the wolf population is not a guarantee to save a small mountain caribou herd in the short term. Many tourists from around the world are morally opposed to the killing of wildlife from helicopters even if your biologists tell us “It is the most human and cost-effective strategy”.
For almost 15 years the BC government did almost nothing to protect the mountain caribous and their critical habitat and the BC government is still an active participant in logging the critical old-growth forest habitat through its own BCTS program. Everybody knows that habitat change is the most important cause of mountain caribou declines. Forest harvesting has removed forest stands that support arboreal regions, which caribou depend upon for winter food. The resulting early seral stands – of course – favour deer, elk and moose what in turn increases the abundance of predators. But the first choice is still to stop the fragmentation of old-growth habitat by logging, mining, road-building and to exclude snowmobiling and helicopter skiing, and not to kill the predators and not to kill the moose and deer populations. The only way to protect and recover mountain caribou is to effectively protect sufficient habitat and to increase small herds by transplanting caribou from larger herds. Your own biologists tell you: “The dynamics of multi-predator-multi-prey systems are poorly understood. It is difficult to accurately predict changes to the system caused by natural events … or human-related interventions such as … predator reductions, because there are likely significant interactions and lags that are difficult to characterize” (Recommendations for Predator-Prey Management to Benefit the Recovery of Mountain Caribou in British Columbia, 31 March 2009).
It’s really a declaration of failure that the government allowed the mountain caribou population to crash without taking action for decades and in the very last second this government tries to save the population by wrecking the rest of the ecosystem: killing wolves from helicopters, killing cougars, killing moose, cows and claves, killing an increased deer population. At the same time the liquidation of old-growth forest in the interior wetbelt continues, the mineral exploration goes on and snowmobiling and helicopter skiing in at least some of the critical mountain caribou winter ranges is still allowed. In the Revelstoke area, the South Columbia mountain caribou herd has plummeted from 105 in 1994 to just 13 animals in 2009. Yet there have been only minimal snowmobile closures in the areas used by that herd. Thus the government is really causing the problem it claims it wants to solve by shooting wolves and cougars.
Slaughtering wolves from helicopters would be a complete declaration of failure. Tourists from all over the world will realize that the government missed to protect the mountain caribou for decades and now as it is almost too late the main focus is the predator management to benefit mountain caribou while other much more important recommendations are still neglected. This doesn’t make sense.
People from all over the world having plans to visit BC this year will reconsider now their vacancy plans. The majority doesn’t want to spend their vacancies in a province which allows wolves to be hunted from helicopters, which promotes the sterilization of wolves, which still allows the sport killing and trophy hunting of bears. For mountain caribous, for wolves and bears BC is really the last place on earth and maybe soon for tourists hoping to find intact ecosystems where predators still roam, too. It depends on your decision, Mr. Penner!
We expect that your decision will be against slaughtering wolves from helicopters and that you will prefer the other recommendations to protect the mountain caribou.
Klaus Pommerenke and Ingrid Bantel
March 13th, 2010

Auf diesen Brief erhielten wir folgende Antwort des Umweltministeriums:
Reference: 124122
April 15, 2010
Dear Mr. Pommerenke and Ms. Bantel:
Thank you for your email of March 13, 2010, also addressed to the Honourable Gordon Campbell, Premier, and the Honourable Kevin Krueger, Minister of Tourism, Culture and the Arts, regarding the recommendation to use aerial removal of wolves to protect mountain caribou in British Columbia (BC). As this topic falls under the purview of the Ministry of Environment, I am pleased to respond on behalf of my colleagues.
Mountain Caribou are legally designated as a Species at Risk under the BC Forest and Range Practices Act. Mountain Caribou are also listed as threatened under the federal Species at Risk Act and are red-listed by the Province.
In 2007, the BC Government announced the Mountain Caribou Recovery Implementation Plan (MCRIP), which committed government to several management actions with the goal to halt the decline of mountain caribou within seven years and recover the population to pre-1995 levels (2,500 animals) within 20 years.
The BC Government has already taken a number of significant actions to assist with mountain caribou population recovery:

  • Under the MCRIP, the Ministry of Environment has protected approximately 2.2 million hectares of mountain caribou habitat from road building and logging;
  • The Ministry has protected approximately one million hectares of mountain caribou habitat from snowmobiling; and
  • The BC Government has established a Section 16 Land Act Reserve, preventing the development of new heli-ski and cat-ski tenures throughout existing mountain caribou range.
The Ministry of Environment facilitated a workshop in the fall of 2009 with 14 experts on the Mountain Caribou Science Team. The outcomes of that workshop were captured in the science-based report A Review of Management Actions to Recover Mountain Caribou in British Columbia, which presented a number of recommendations to address the challenges presented by the MCRIP across the range of mountain caribou in BC (
As you know, the immediate aerial removal of wolves to protect mountain caribou herds with less than 50 animals is one of the recommendations highlighted in the Science Team's report.
Although habitat loss and fragmentation have been identified as the primary cause of mountain caribou declines, predation has been shown to limit the recovery of many small mountain caribou herds. Much of the habitat alteration in the past has lead to increases in moose and deer populations within the historical range of mountain caribou. Along with the increase of moose and deer comes an associated increase in predators (primarily cougars and wolves).
Historically, BC's mountain caribou inhabited areas with very low wolf and cougar densities, and the relatively recent expansion of predators into their range means that predation, not habitat, is the limiting factor for many of these critically small herds (that is, those with less than 50 animals). Without immediate action to reverse population trends by reducing high predation losses, the Science Team advises some mountain caribou herds will be extirpated long before the benefits of additional habitat protection and restoration are realized.
To date, the available removal methods of hunting and trapping have not been successful at effectively reducing wolf densities. Wolves are extremely difficult to capture and trapping alone cannot achieve the wolf population reductions required for caribou recovery. Nevertheless, I have requested that ministry staff consider whether other options might be available.
Thank you again for taking the time to provide feedback. Your comments will be carefully considered by the ministry as we move forward in considering the recommendations of the mountain caribou science team.
“Original Signed By”
Barry Penner
pc:   Honourable Gordon Campbell, Premier
        Honourable Kevin Krueger, Minister of Tourism, Culture and the Arts

Bereits im März war bekannt geworden, dass das Umweltministerium von BC plant, Wölfe von Helikoptern aus abschießen zu lassen, um die bedrohten Berg-Karibus vom Aussterben zu retten. Jahrelang unterließ es die Provinzregierung, notwendige Schutzmaßnahmen zu ergreifen, ließ die großflächige Zerstörung der Lebensräume der Berg-Karibus zu, vor allem die Abholzung der Inlandregenwälder in den Hochtälern, schützte eher die Interessen von Bergbaukonzernen, Heliski-Veranstaltern und Snowmobile-Fahrern. Erst jetzt, nachdem die verbliebenen Lebensräume für das Überleben der Berg-Karibus schon viel zu klein geworden sind, dämmerte es dem Ministerium offensichtlich, Fehler gemacht zu haben. Es ist eine Minute vor 12 und nun plant das Ministerium in einer Verzweiflungsaktion, die schon viel zu klein gewordenen Berg-Karibuherden dadurch zu schützen, dass es möglichst alle Wölfe und Pumas in deren Lebensraum von Helikoptern aus abschießen will. Den Populations­zusammenbruch der Berg-Karibus hat das Umweltministerium großteils selbst durch die Erlaubnis zur Lebensraumzerstörung und durch jahrelanges Nichtstun verursacht. „Thus the government is causing the problem it claims it wants to solve by shooting wolves“, heißt es in der Pressemitteilung der Valhalla Wilderness Society vom 8. März 2010. Die Pläne der Regierung verursachten einen Aufschrei der Entrüstung in der Öffentlichkeit. Hunderte Protestbriefe gingen beim Ministerium ein.
In einem Artikel in der Vancouver Sun vom 18. März 2010 (We’re a never kill wolf province, public says) fasste Larry Pynn die Stimmung zusammen: „The public has rejected the idea of an aerial wolf kill in B.C. to benefit threatened mountain caribou, even before the first gun has been loaded. … But whether the B.C. government is listening to the public, or to the scientists who say the kill is vital for caribou recovery, remains to be seen.“ 16 Umweltschutzgruppen, u. a. die Raincoast Conservation Foundation, Pacific Wild und die Valhalla Wilderness Society richteten am 3. Mai einen Protestbrief an Premierminister Campbell. „Groups decry province’s proposed aerial wolf kill“, schrieb Andrea Woo am 5. Mai in der Vancouver Sun.
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