Letter: On the caribou town hall with Bob Zimmer

To the editor:

I don’t agree with Bob Zimmer regarding the Town Hall discussion concerning Mountain Caribou area closures. His inaccuracies show a lack of understanding: “People have been going into the backcountry, snowmobiling, hunting, and fishing for eons.” What? People have hunted and fished here for millennia, not eons, and that doesn’t include snowmobiles. The snowmobile was invented in 1922, and the 1980s produced recreational snowmobiling as an economic ‘thing’… but let’s gain perspective: Caribou have that beat by 2,000,000 years, give-or-take. An eon? Almost.

Now, looking at the caribou/snowmobile/mountains dynamic, we might see these industrial machines as a primary disrupter. The machine’s noise and speed might be enough to drive these elusive creatures away from certain alpine refuges, but it’s the seemingly innocuous sled tracks, however, that are the main culprit, allowing wolves to ascend the deep snowy conditions, dramatically reducing the safety of the refuges for this species at risk.

It’s not surprising that Zimmer is wrong concerning the Province’s predator control plan, or that he seems to favour wolf culling for caribou protection. While potentially appropriate in very select circumstances, it’s hardly a cure-all; in fact, disrupting top predator populations creates chaotic detrimental shifts in many ecosystem dynamics. It even affects the course of rivers; wolf reintroduction in Yellowstone clearly demonstrated this.

Zimmer’s political model revolves around the inevitability and necessity of finite resource extraction and natural systems depletion to support continuous economic growth. I hold the opposite view. Our economy must support the fabric of life which has always supported us. These can’t be at odds. Debt-free economics are interrelated to ecosystems.  Keystone species and habitat protection are that important. The consequences of continually ignoring our interrelationship with the environment will inevitably be socio-economically harsh.

Roy Howard has it right when he stated that the caribou are a symbol. There are only so many strands that can be removed from the web of life before it simply can not support us. That is why I support the Yellowstone to Yukon initiative. We need to preserve the major players in this dynamic ecosystem before we lose the opportunity to learn to relate and adapt to its (actual) eons of wisdom, and if that means limiting industrialized activity in the backcountry then so be it.

It would be nice to see our Member of Parliament come to terms with this reality, even if he cannot base his terminology in reality.

Rob Mercereau,

Dunster, B.C.

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