Monday, March 5, 2007

Avalon caribou are safe for now

The CBC Radio Morning Show had a great follow this morning (Monday) on an item it aired last Friday, about a grass roots movement to open up the Avalon Wilderness Reserve to snowmobile traffic. The small group of retired people behind the movement, who seem credible enough, say they respect nature and will behave responsibly. They also said the Avalon caribou herd that the reserve is intended to protect has dwindled from thousands of animals to hundreds, and that there were none left in their neck of the woods anyway.

That item resulted in a flood of calls from listeners, every one voicing opposition in a most articulate way to changing the regulations. This was followed by an interview with wildlife biologist Dennis Minty, who presented a persuasive case against opening the reserve to the machines. His key point: years ago, caribou numbers in the reserve had declined to a few hundred animals, and the reserve had been instrumental in bringing them back from the brink. Opening it up now can only cause harm to the herd, which has been decimated by a persistent outbreak of brainworm.

Host Jeff Gilhooly also made a good point: the proponents of this notion may well be responsible, but it would open up the area to "cowboys" with less noble intentions.

The environment minister is going to be interviewed on Tuesday, but it's safe to say that this issue is already dead in the water... or should that be lost in the wilderness?

1 comment:

Mark said...

About three years ago I had the privilege of flying over the beautiful south coast of Newfoundland in a Helicopter. What was truly stunning was the visible scarring that ATVs had left all over the place. You could see tracks as far as the eye could see. Everywhere.

Snowmobiles and ATVs have been widely available in our province for about a generation or so. Why is it that we simply assume that the invention and availability of such machines entitles us all to unlimited wilderness access? It's baffling.

I enjoy a skidoo ride as much as the next guy, but setting aside at least part of our landmass as being off limits seems to be common sense.