CHETWYND, B.C. – The first Caribou Recovery meeting happened Monday in Chetwynd and hundreds of people attended.
Estimates put close to 600 people were in attendance with even more watching the live stream. The next meeting will be Tuesday night in Fort St. John starting at 5:30 at the Pomeroy Hotel and Conference Centre. Energeticcity.ca will live stream the meeting.
Peace FM in Chetwynd has shared the following report from the Chetwynd meeting:
A number of presentations were given by government officials, including one given by Dale Seip from the BC Ministry of Environment, detailing mountain caribou biology, current herd numbers, and steps that have been taken within the past few years to help protect caribou numbers. Seip has followed the Caribou population for many years as a biologist.
The presentation detailed the impact of wolves and their impact on caribou mortality.
One current initiative includes reducing wolf numbers, which as presented by the government officials, that while effective, is an expensive proposition, and a major culling of the wolf population would face national and international backlash.
Other initiatives including sheltering caribou in fenced enclosures, reducing moose population which would reduce the wolf population, and protecting habitat. Presentations followed on Section 11 and the Partnership Agreement, followed by more questions and answers.
One major concern given by several members of the public was due to the fact that a socioeconomic study had not been completed yet, and that people are concerned items in the proposed agreement would affect the industry and potentially cost people their jobs and reduce the value of their homes. Some said that our town could die if the impact on sawmills was as severe as suggested.
Members of the public also voiced concerned about the limited timeline of the consultations, aggravated by the fact that a number of meetings and consultations in regards to the caribou had been scheduled, then subsequently cancelled over the past few months. One of the Ministry of Forests people said it was a catharsis meeting and was surprised by some of the anger.
Chetwynd Mayor Allan Courtoreille asked a number of questions, including asking if there would be any consultations in the future. The response was that there may be more in the future.
The next meeting will take place Tuesday night in Fort St. John and it is conjectured that the audience will be similar in size.
CHET TV recorded the 3-hour session and it will become a part of programming in the next few weeks.
Photos show the intense interest in the meeting. One resident said that there were more people at this meeting that residents who voted in the municipal election.
One resident said that our town is under threat of closing down.