The B.C. government and the Houston Snowmobile Club have recently signed a stewardship management agreement to protect caribou in the Skeena Region.
The agreement, which addresses the influence of recreation on northern caribou in the Telkwa Mountains, includes closing certain areas to recreation when there are caribou present.
Although Burns Lake snowmobilers often ride in that area, Dennis Firomski, president of the Burns Lake Snowmobile Club, says this agreement won’t greatly impact local snowmobilers. However, he worries about the direction that the province might be taking to protect caribou.
“It [this agreement] doesn’t really hurt us, but hopefully we don’t lose that area as a riding area, that’s our main concern,” he said.
The Telkwa caribou herd has been a conservation concern since the late 1960s when there was a drastic decline in the number of caribou counted in the herd. Currently, there are approximately 22 animals in the herd and it is at continual risk of local extinction.
While predation and habitat loss are impacting this small caribou population, other disturbance factors such as recreation may also have cumulative effects as it could displace caribou from high-quality habitat and increase predator access to caribou range.
The recent agreement outlines the shared roles and responsibilities for both the B.C. government and the Houston Snowmobile Club. The parties will work together to ensure that snowmobiling activities do not affect caribou.
“One of the best ways to achieve lasting conservation outcomes is for groups to get together and find common ground by creating innovative solutions to protect wildlife,” said Doug Donaldson, Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development. “Staff in my ministry and the Houston Snowmobile Club are demonstrating the value of a collaboration-based approach.”
The agreement is a companion document to the proposed ‘Recreation management plan for the Telkwa Mountains,’ which outlines the areas proposed to be designated for recreation use and those for caribou habitat.
For find out which areas currently have recreation restrictions, visit the Facebook page ‘Telkwa Caribou Recovery.’