By now, most everyone in Pemberton and Whistler has heard the sad story about the dog being shot. I have also lost pets, so I can understand how they feel.
I wasnt there, so I dont know what happened, but I thought I could give some background information that may be useful to all user groups of this area, especially to relative newcomers to the Pemberton area, who may be more used to an urban environment.
The Mackenzie Basin area, where the incident occurred, is a traditional deer winter range. Deer from much of the Pemberton valley migrate to this area in the fall, usually in the latter part of November. This is an important wildlife area not only deer, but coyotes, wolves and cougars, which follow the deer.
The existing road into this area was extended a few years ago, to accommodate a cellular phone tower. In an effort to preserve this important area, the Pemberton Wildlife Association asked the Ministry of Wildlife to install a gate to limit traffic up the extension road, which the ministry agreed to.
As the deer migrate into this area, hunters looking to put some meat in their freezer also come. Both native and non native hunters have been using this area for decades, perhaps centuries. Hunters tend to have minimal impact on habitat, so this use has continued without problem in all this time.
In the last few years, the Mackenzie Basin area has become a popular mountain bike area, and many game trails have started to see use as mountain bike trails. Mountain bikers have cut many new trails, some crossing or looping into existing game trails.
Mountain bikers and hikers may not be aware that there always have been hunters using this area, because the deer dont generally migrate there until the second week of November. By this time there is usually a fair amount of snow, so most biking is finished, and it is only the hunters accessing the area for the last two weeks of November. This year there has been very little snowfall, and the trails are still clear, so people are biking, hiking and hunting at the same time. With a little respect and common sense, all users of this area should be able to coexist.
The following information is purely educational and not an attempt to place blame on the Woodruffs.
Like any rural community, Pemberton has livestock on farms, and wildlife in the outskirts of town. Dogs running loose have killed farmers livestock, and injured or killed wildlife on many occasions. Unfortunately, what may seem like play, can leave wildlife in life-threatening situations, due to stress and even seemingly minor injuries.