bears and more • Klaus Pommerenke
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27. Mai 2015
Neue Studie: Ursache für das vermutlich bevorstehende Aussterben der Karibus im Southe Peace-Gebiet ist der Lebensraumverlust und nicht die dortige Wolfspopulation
Eine jetzt veröffentliche Langzeitstudie von Wissenschaftlern über die bedrohten Karibus im South Peace-Gebiet in BC belegt die negativen Auswirkungen des durch Forstwirtschaft und Industrialisierung verursachten Lebensraumverlustes auf die Karibus. Die Fragmentierung des Lebensraumes und das Verschwinden alter Wälder mit Moosen und Flechten dürfte ursächlich sein für den Zusammenbruch der Karibuherden und nicht die dort lebende Wolfspopulation. Die Studie von Chris J. Johnson, Libby P.W. Ehlers und Dale R. Seip mit dem Titel „Witnessing extinction – Cumulative impacts across landscapes and the future of an evolutionary significant unit of woodland caribou in Canada” wurde bereits online publiziert und erscheint in der wissenschaftlichen Zeitschrift Biological Conservation (Vol. 186, Juni 2015, Seiten 176 – 186).
Die Presseerklärung von 8 Unweltschutzgruppen vom 14. Mai 2015 zu dieser Studie ist nachfolgend wiedergegeben:
„Witnessing Extinction: habitat loss, caribou and the wolf cull. New research shows habitat loss driving South Peace caribou towards extinction
Eight environmental groups, Valhalla Wilderness Society, Pacific Wild, Raincoast Conservation Foundation, Wilderness Committee, Wildlife Defence League, The Association for the Protection of Fur-Bearing Animals, Wolf Awareness Inc., and Bears Matter, applaud a recently published scientific report that reveals how much habitat the caribou in the South Peace region have lost. The title of the report says it all: ‘Witnessing Extinction – Cumulative impacts across landscapes and the future loss of an evolutionarily significant unit of woodland caribou in Canada’ (Johnson et al., 2015).
‘The findings of the report are shocking, but this is the very first time that, for a rapidly disappearing caribou population, we’ve had actual measurements of the amount and kind of habitat they’ve lost,’ says Anne Sherrod, spokesperson for the Valhalla Wilderness Society. ‘Now that we know the habitat loss is severe, it puts a heavy responsibility on government to do something about it.’
Two University of Northern BC (UNBC) scientists and a government biologist who authored the peer-reviewed report emphasize that the South Peace caribou herds constitute ‘a unique and irreplaceable component of Canada’s biodiversity’.
They hypothesize that ‘this generation of resource managers and conservation professionals’ may observe the extinction of these unique caribou herds if industrialization continues at current rates. Historically, vast numbers of caribou, described by the First Nations as ‘a sea of caribou’ roamed the South Peace region, when the large areas of intact wilderness and old growth that caribou need to survive still existed. Today, hydroelectric projects, cutblocks, roads, seismic lines, open pit coal mines, as well as widespread oil and gas activity in the South Peace region have severely fragmented the landscape and reduced the old growth forests.
The authors of ‘Witnessing Extinction’studied five herds (Moberly, Burnt Pine, Quintette, Narraway, Bearhole-Redwillow) over 11 years and found that caribou are displaced from clearcuts by distances of 0.5 to 5.5 kilometers. Caribou also avoid pipelines and seismic lines by distances from 0.5 to 13.5 kilometers and based on data showing industrialization over 22 years had experienced ‘extreme reductions in habitat valued as high (0.6–52.9%) and very-high (0.2–65.9%) quality’.
This extreme habitat loss wiped out the Burnt Pine herd, while the Moberly herd ‘is declining at an annual rate of 12.7%’: its numbers dropped from 191 animals in 1997 to just 16 in 2013. The other herds have also suffered sharp declines.
In 2014, these herds were listed as ‘Endangered’. To save the caribou from extinction, the authors of ‘Witnessing Extinction’ recognize ‘the immediate need for habitat protection and restoration.’ Some scientists believe that culling wolves, bears, wolverines and cougars will buy time to restore habitat and save the caribou; but even scientists who believe that are starting to recognize that culling predators without sufficient habitat protection is futile.
Chris Genovali, executive director of Raincoast Conservation Foundation, explains: ‘The wolf cull is a consequence of industrial logging and other human activity, which have transformed areas of the caribou’s habitat into a landscape that can no longer provide the food, cover, and security these animals need to survive. Rather than address the real problem, i.e., the destruction of life sustaining caribou habitat, the B.C. government has chosen to scapegoat wolves.’
Ian McAllister, Pacific Wild’s director, stressed that: ‘This year 73 wolves were killed from helicopters in the South Peace alone. Killing top predators will harm the whole ecosystem and not miraculously save the caribou in the absence of habitat protection. This report is damming evidence of chronic government negligence over many years in protecting these endangered herds.’
The provincial and federal governments must stop the sham caribou conservation and the wolf cull in the South Peace region. They must take the necessary radical measures to immediately arrest caribou habitat destruction, which will also serve to mitigate climate change caused by fossil fuel extraction and logging. The undersigned environmental groups demand that the provincial and federal governments do not allow the caribou to go extinct on their watch by permitting more industrialization and by failing to restore critical caribou habitat.
Association for the Protection of Fur-Bearing Animals
Bears Matter
Pacific Wild
Raincoast Conservation Foundation
Valhalla Wilderness Society
Wilderness Committee
Wildlife Defence League
Wolf Awareness Inc.”
Bild der Anzeigenkampagne der Raincoast Conservation Foundation, um gegen die Wolfstötungen der Provinzregierung zu protestieren © Raincoast Conservation Foundation; © Wolfsbild: Brad Hill, Natural Art Images,
Paul Paquet von der Raincoast Conservation Foundation erklärte: “Wolves are scapegoated for the decline of caribou in a morally and scientifically bankrupt attempt to protect Canada’s industrial sacred cows: oil and gas, mining, and forestry. The relentless destruction of forest wilderness via industrial development has conspired to deprive caribou of their life requisites, while exposing them to levels of wolf predation they did not evolve with and are incapable of adapting to … Yet, governments habitually favour the destruction of wolves over any consequential protection, enhancement, or restoration of caribou habitat. As a result, caribou are on a long-term slide to extinction; not because of what wolves and other predators are doing but because of what humans have already done.” “B.C.’s wolf cull is unscientific, unethical and unwarranted”, schrieb Chris Genovali von der Raincoast Conservation Foundation am 15. Mai 2015 in der Huffington Post. Die Raincoast Conservation Foundation startete bereits eine Anzeigenkampagne gegen das ebenso unwissenschaftliche wie fehlgeleitete Wolfstötungsprogramm der Provinzregierung von BC. Brad Hill, Biologe und Fotograf, der das Wolfsbild zur Kampagne beisteuerte, erklärte: „Everyone wants to save endangered or threatened mountain caribou populations, but killing wolves for a few years – or even decades – won’t save the caribou. All mountain caribou in B.C. exist in multi-predator ecosystems and the best science has told us that wolves invariably account for a minority of the total predation. Killing wolves to save caribou makes no sense in the long or short term. The wolf cull is little more than a transparent attempt by the government to appear to be doing something to save caribou, while avoiding the true heavy-lifting needed to adequately protect and restore caribou habitat.”
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