Coalition asks BCWF to work toward more refuges
On the eve of the BC Wildlife Federation (BCWF) Annual General Meeting in Fernie, a coalition of environmental and conservation groups called on the BCWF to work with them to create a system of wildlife refuges to ensure healthy wildlife populations in B.C. for the benefit of all British Columbians, hunters and non-hunters alike.
Wildlife refuges, or sanctuaries, are large areas of natural habitat where animals can breed and raise their young without being shot or trapped. By serving as source populations, they contribute to wider regional wildlife populations where hunting can occur outside of refuges.
“Along with habitat protection, refuges are important for maintaining healthy wildlife populations into the future,” said John Bergenske, Wildsight’s Director of Conservation.
“Most people are surprised to learn that virtually no BC provincial parks are wildlife refuges. In fact, only one per cent of British Columbia is currently set aside as wildlife refuges, almost all of which is within national parks,” added Peter Wood, Terrestrial Campaigns Director of the BC chapter of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS).
“Wildlife refuges are an essential part of effective wildlife conservation. They provide a benchmark to measure against wildlife populations where hunting is allowed,” explained Bob Peart, Executive Director of Sierra Club BC.
“At a provincial level, B.C.’s lack of wildlife refuges is striking compared to Alberta, which is 10% wildlife refuges. The lack of refuges compared to its neighbours is particularly striking in southeast B.C., where Montana has Glacier National Park and Alberta has Waterton Lakes National Park, but B.C. has no sanctuaries for wildlife. More balance is needed to provide both secure wildlife populations and hunting opportunities in B.C.’s Southern Rockies.”
The groups look forward to working with the BC Wildlife Federation to ensure healthy wildlife populations for all British Columbians.
The BCWF did not respond to e-KNOW’s request for comments on this request.
The BCWF AGM and Convention was April 23-25, hosted by the Fernie Rod and Gun Club.
Lead image: Waterton Lakes National Park. Ian Cobb/e-KNOW