The Wild Sheep Society of BC’s Wild Sheep Friendly Program recognizes businesses, individuals, organizations, resource user groups, and industry that support wild sheep conservation in British Columbia. It is no secret that the wild sheep population suffer from numerous challenges including habitat lost, predation, disease, and encroachment. Fortunately, many companies, organizations and individuals are conservation focused even though it is not their mandate making a conscious decision to support wildlife and wild spaces. WSSBC’s Wild Sheep Friendly Partnership recognizes this support and we have developed an important relationship with those that meet our strict guidelines for participating in our program.
Historically big industry, domestic producers, and certain user groups, at times, have found themselves at odds with conservation groups as their interests were not congruous to the well-being of wildlife. That said, there are an increasing number of corporations, domestic producers, and organizations that, although their mandate is not conservation centric, care about wild sheep and wild places and wish to work alongside conservation minded partners. The Wild Sheep Society of BC celebrates these environmentally conscious entities and we have created Wild Sheep Friendly to recognize their commitment to the environment.
This program spawned as an opportunity to celebrate those that recognize the need to protect our natural resources specifically wildlife. We noticed domestic sheep producers that were very eager to work to protect wild sheep in their community. We have teamed up with numerous domestic sheep producers that have reached out to us interested in raising disease free sheep in order that they can do their part to protect and preserve wild sheep.
We provide guidelines that corporations, user groups, domestic producers and industry must adhere to if they wish to be recognized as Wild Sheep Friendly. Once an entity achieves these criteria we celebrate those contributions and award them our Wild Sheep Friendly recognition status. The benefit to achieving Wild Sheep Friendly status is a strong partnership with a conservation organization that is dedicated to ensuring healthy and robust wildlife populations on the landscape. In return we promote the leadership of these Wild Sheep Friendly entities. This creates a strong social licence for the applicant and promotes a healthy relationship between the public and that entity. In the case of domestic producers, we are noticing that in specific cases they are achieving higher market value for m.ovi free lambs.
What are the benefits of achieving Wild Sheep Friendly certification?
By earning the certification of Wild Sheep Friendly a company, domestic producer, or organization sets a high standard of environmental leadership. As a user of our ecosystem making decisions that impact the flora and fauna can have critical importance on long-term sustainability on earth. While government sets environmental standards, as we have seen, these standards are often well below what is needed for long term sustainability of certain plants and animals, namely wild sheep in many cases. While certain practices may be legal they may certainly not be ethical or sustainable.
Achieving Wild Sheep Friendly certification provides the individual, organization, company, or user group recognition of having a higher standard of environmental approval. The Wild Sheep Society of BC has recognized your commitment to a gold seal of environmental approval particularly when dealing with wild sheep. This achievement will be shared with our conservation community and we will recognize your dedication to what we hold nearest and dearest to us, wild sheep and the landscapes they inhabit.
In the case of domestic producers, we are educating the broader community of the effects of healthy m.ovi free domestic sheep and the positive impact they have on wild sheep populations. We envision that in the near future m.ovi free sheep will reach a premium in the market place as we continue to educate the public on the environmental stewardship m.ovi free producers display. The social licence from attaining Wild Sheep Friendly certification will ultimately result in higher premiums for sheep livestock. Many producers and 4H clubs are already working with us on this project.
Again, when it comes to social licence, Wild Sheep Friendly certified corporations and individuals will earn distinct recognition as being a leader on the environmental front. Hydro, logging, and mining organizations as well as cattlemen that work with us to find collaborative solutions to promoting healthy wild sheep populations will receive recognition not only through our community but in the broader public. We are committed to recognizing wild sheep friendly organizations in our projects through public signage and public outreach media campaigns.
As an example, a mining company that finds way to mitigate habitat loss for wild sheep populations may find itself as one of our Wild Sheep Friendly partners. By avoiding areas that negatively impact wild sheep and by developing strategies that enhance wild sheep terrain is an example. While the Wild Sheep Society of BC recognizes that developing infrastructure and resource exploitation are part of the needs of a modern society, those organizations that respect the environment to the highest levels are companies that we envision working together with and that may achieve our Wild Sheep Friendly certification.
In some cases, this may involve financial contributions that can go to wild sheep habitat restoration projects. However, this is not a money grab, as the primary criteria is that wild sheep and wild sheep habitat are enhanced in British Columbia. This may include work in kind or habitat restoration projects by cattlemen that benefit grazing ranges and reduce encroachment of cattle on primary wild sheep habitat.
Ultimately the Wild Sheep Friendly certification will be a program that first and foremost enhances wild sheep and wild sheep habitat. This is a however a mutually beneficial program. As mentioned this may be in the way of social licence, but also may result in higher premiums received or demand for their products or services as they are holding themselves to a higher environmental standard – a win win.
How does one achieve Wild Sheep Friendly certification?
The Wild Sheep Society of BC views Wild Sheep Friendly as a partnership and works with entities on challenges to wild sheep and wild places throughout British Columbia. If a company or domestic producer is interested in becoming Wild Sheep Friendly certified, they contact the Wild Sheep Society of BC and we will provide a template of requirements for certification. Certification will be contingent on numerous factors; however, the underlining guiding criteria is that the applicant has taken steps to further enhance the overall well-being of wild sheep and wild sheep habitat in British Columbia. The reason that there is a case by case basis is that each scenario has its own unique challenges and factors.
As an example, a domestic sheep producer may wish to achieve Wild Sheep Friendly Certification. They make undertake m.ovi testing and even go as far as selling any infected animals to achieve m.ovi free status. However, if the producer does not take appropriate measures to maintain that status, such as maintaining high biosecurity standards, or regular m.ovi testing, the benefits of testing in the first place is negated. In this case, it is a half measure that fails to protect wild sheep populations and unlikely that Wild Sheep Friendly certification will be awarded.
Another example is a logging corporation that wishes to achieve Wild Sheep Friendly Certification. They may take special measures to recognize the needs of wild sheep and making concessions in an area that holds important populations. Developing a Wild Sheep Friendly strategy for logging would likely earn the logging company this gold seal certification. Having said that if in other areas they show haphazard disregard for environmental stewardship the likelihood of achieving our highest level of environmental certification would be jeopardized.
Benefits of Wild Sheep Friendly certification
The wild sheep of British Columbia are iconic animals and adorn our coat of arms. British Columbians look to our landscapes and revere these monarchs that roam the craggy peaks of our skyline. The Wild Sheep Society of BC’s very mandate is to protect and enhance these magnificent creatures and their habitat.
While we are protecting the wild sheep of British Columbia, we also are actively educating the broader public on conservation efforts that we are engaged in across our provincial landscape. By partnering with us, you will see us in your communities sharing your story of collaboration and environmental stewardship. While we are in the infancy of this program we are confident that as our communications widen, the social licence will undoubtedly broaden as well.
The public will recognize those companies that provide environmental stewardship and they will become the sought-after provider by consumers. Not only is being a strong supporter of the environment good for the planet, it won’t be long where it is good for the pocket book. Those individuals, companies, domestic producers, and industry that support Wild Sheep Friendly will soon find that through their environmental leadership, the broader public will look to their products and services when they make a consumer choice.
How do I get started?
The Wild Sheep Society of British Columbia would like to meet with you to outline our criteria and find an avenue that works for both you and wild sheep in BC. Contact us at 250 961-1908 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more details and have one of our Directors further outline the benefits that Wild Sheep Friendly offers. The wild sheep of British Columbia and our beautiful landscape are worth it.