There was a time when there were more bighorn sheep in the Okanagan than there were humans.
Early in history humans routinely abused sheep populations through direct kill and self-serving, uncaring invasion and occupation of their habitat. Now, sheep populations and range are dramatically shrunken, increasingly fractured and still livestock co-opt ranges and bring disease, native poaching and questionable hunting pressure picks away at populations. Intensive recreation is an escalating threat.
The sheep population occupying the lands from Penticton to near Vaseaux counts fewer than 70 animals that somehow hang on. Humans now outnumber bighorns in the Skaha-Penticton Ck area over 500 to one. Even the permissive B.C. government considers sheep here “at risk.”
We cant undo most of this damage (some, yes), but the selfish thinking and actions in justification for “bringing the Skaha bluffs into the city” is an absurd land grab and will only accelerate and aggravate this precarious wildlife conservation situation.
Proposing a 180 house subdivision for Skaha amounts to a slow form of “pulling the trigger” by starving bighorns out of land and space.
Why not initiate a process to have the province acquire the land and add it outright to nearby Skaha Park. That would be in the public interest. It would also guarantee – given a wise management plan – public access to some parts of the bluff.
Destroying most of the ecological landscape, and dramatically expanding the human impact into the surrounding area, to allegedly protect a small portion of the land in question is deceptive.
We can still kill this terrible plan; write the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, the Hon. Selina Robinson (selina.robinson.MLA@leg.bc.ca) and ask her to insist on a referendum or to simply kill it outright for conservation reasons. Send a letter and copy to each board member of the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen (info@RDOS.bc.ca) asking them to reverse their ill considered decision.
Dr. Brian L. Horejsi