Public Engagement Results | Predator Reduction for Caribou Recovery

The results from the “Predator Reduction for Caribou Recovery Engagement” survey are complete. The final report is available here.

Key results:

  • 98% of respondents feel that caribou recovery is important
  • 37% of respondents were in support of predator reduction measures
  • 59% of respondents were opposed to predator reduction measures
  • Among those who disagreed with predator reduction, the most frequently mentioned reason was because they felt there were better options to achieve the same end
  • The majority of opposed respondents resided in southern and southwestern B.C.
  • The majority of respondents living in central, northern and far southeastern parts of B.C. were more likely to support predator reduction, as were hunters, and/or trappers, guide outfitters and those associated with resource extraction
  • 45% of respondents indicated they were concerned citizens
  • 24% of respondents were hunter/trappers
  • 22% of respondents were associated with environmental/ecosystem protection

The decision as to whether or not to proceed with predator removal in support of caribou recovery lies with regional statutory decision makers — to date, continuing with the predator removal program has been approved for most of the involved regions and predator removal work is proceeding in those regions at this time.

To have your opinion heard (without saying anything at all), please participate in future surveys on this and other wildlife, hunting regulation and habitat management plans at Engage BC.

2021 Caribou Population Estimates (compiled by BC Caribou Recovery Program)

The BC government is compiling an inventory of BC caribou. The inventory is a vital part of the recovery plan because it means scientists can track populations and monitor herd status, health and trends over time. In the past year, the province conducted 23 surveys of caribou herds to determine population attributes such as herd size, recruitment, composition, and so on.

Scientists were able to calculate subpopulation sizes for 15 herds, which have been updated in the 2021 BC Caribou Herds Population Estimates, compiled by the BC Caribou Recover Program (the government program). This table provides details on both current and historic long-term trends. Current trends refer to the past 2-5 years, while historic trends refer to the past 2-3 generations (18-27 years). 

The current status changed in 3 herds:

  • Barkerville from stable to decreasing
  • Columbia North from stable to increasing
  • Pink Mountain from unknown to stable

The BC Caribou Recovery Program is in the process of drafting procedures for actions to support caribou recovery in BC. Engagement summaries and decisions packages have been sent out to the decision makers from the regions in the province where predator removal is being considered to inform final recommendations. Herd planning is ongoing at a slow pace with the initial focus on the caribou herds deemed to be in most peril. Herd plans (most of which are incomplete or outdated) can be found here

Related Context

In November, the BCWF encouraged members to take the EngageBC Survey on Predator Reduction to support caribou recovery. B.C. citizens were provided the opportunity to comment on predator reduction as a recovery action. The BC Caribou Recovery Program also invited 45 Indigenous Nations and trappers/guide outfitters to consult. 

On behalf of the B.C. Wildlife Federation (BCWF), Region 7B President and Wildlife Committee Chair, Gerry Paille, wrote to the Government of B.C. thanking them for the opportunity to comment on the proposed five-year extension of the predator reduction program in support of woodland caribou recovery in B.C.

The BCWF applauds current and past provincial governments for supporting multiple years of predator removal in support of caribou recovery for well-established reasons.

Evidence of the positive impact of predator reduction programs on caribou recovery is convincing, as noted in the background material supporting the public engagement process. The popular media tend to focus on the positive effects of maternal penning, habitat protection and restoration, supplemental feeding, restricting recreational access, and reducing or eliminating hunting opportunities. However, without predator reductions, many of these treatments may be insufficient to sustain, let alone increase, caribou populations.

Predator reduction is often referred to as a “stop-gap” or “short-term” measure in caribou recovery. Unfortunately, while resource extraction­­­, mostly through logging and oil and gas exploration and extraction, continues within caribou habitat, predator reduction necessarily becomes a long-term measure. Habitat restoration and recovery are long-term processes and occur too slowly to make a much-needed immediate positive impact on threatened or endangered caribou herds.

The B.C. Wildlife Federation understands that there are socio-economic impacts of habitat protection, restoration and recovery, and encourages the provincial government to conduct associated studies incorporating the best available ecological and economic science and find a solution that benefits declining caribou herds while being sensitive to the needs of B.C.’s economy. In the mean time, predator reduction needs to continue for those caribou herds in most jeopardy. Climate change only adds to the urgency for continuing with predator removal while waiting for the benefits of long-term actions.

For all BCWF members, a more detailed article on the recent letter to the government and recommendations for caribou recovery strategy will in the January/February 2022 BCWF members’ insert of the BC Outdoors Magazine.

Please consider giving the gift of membership to support the BCWF in striving to ensure the sound long-term management of B.C.’s fish, wildlife, and outdoor recreational resources in the best interests of all British Columbians.

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