Regarding the March 24 Politics & the Nation article “America’s reindeer have quietly gone extinct in the Lower 48”:
The plight of North America’s caribou is yet another all-too-familiar tale of American consumption wreaking havoc on the planet. Sadly, this tragedy extends far beyond the Pacific Northwest into Canada because of unfettered clear-cut logging operations in caribou habitat.
In Canada, the boreal caribou faces a similar plight to the South Selkirk herd. Just 14 of 51 boreal caribou populations are considered self-sustaining today, and their habitat is shrinking. Across Canada, powerful logging companies are destroying caribou habitat, with few environmental safeguards.
More than three-quarters of Canada’s logged boreal wood exports go to the United States, often ending up in throwaway products such as toilet paper and paper towels. Companies insist they will not stop using boreal wood fiber for their products, despite its direct link to caribou’s demise.
It’s time for U.S. companies to stop making consumers complicit in caribou habitat destruction and shift to more responsible materials for their tissue products, including recycled content and alternative fibers. Ending this wasteful paradigm can help save this treasured animal north of our border and preserve that “fighting chance” for their return to the Lower 48.
Shelley Vinyard, Washington
The writer is the boreal corporate campaign manager for the Natural Resources Defense Council.