A new guide/outfitting camp in the heart of mountain caribou habitat has been supported by the regional district board, with an important caveat.
On Friday, Feb. 14, the Regional District of East Kootenay board of directors said it would support a new satellite camp for a guide/outfitting operation up Perry Creek Forest Service Road by Liverpool Creek, but only if snowmobile use is not expanded beyond the guide/outfitting business.
“I don’t think this should be available for snowmobiling. It is critical caribou habitat and there aren’t very many left. I’m supportive of the camp but not the suggestion that it would then be used by the snowmobiling club as well,” said Cranbrook Mayor Wayne Stetski.
The proposed camp, which is awaiting approval by the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, is located in an area designated for motorized use adjacent to Perry Creek. However, it’s surrounded by caribou habitat, where motorized vehicles can only use roads, identified travel corridors and cut blocks.
While the satellite camp is designed to be used during hunting season from September to November, with up to six people at a time and a total of up to 15 people a year, the applicant also said it hopes to work with the local snowmobile club to arrange use of the proposed camp during winter.
The RDEK board said they would support the camp for hunting purposes, but not snowmobile use.
There is a small herd of about 15 endangered mountain caribou in the Perry Creek area, west of St. Mary Lake. There are just 1,700 mountain caribou left in the world.
A B.C. government attempt to transplant 20 caribou from northern B.C. into the East Kootenay’s endangered herd in 2012 failed after the transplanted caribou failed to join up with the existing herd, and many died due to predation.
Before the transplant, local snowmobile clubs agreed to restrict their use of the caribou habitat in that area.