Faces & Places: Wayne McCrory

A registered professional wildlife biologist and conservationist with a long and distinguished career as a protector of bear habitat and biodiversity, Wayne McCrory has been instrumental in ensuring that wild areas remain wild and undeveloped.

A Kootenay boy through and through, Wayne grew up in New Denver in the 1950s and developed an early interest in nature and grizzly bears while on backcountry expeditions with his father who was a miner and prospector.

An Honours bachelor’s degree In Zoology from UBC in the 1960s exposed him to inspirational teachers like Dr. Ian McTaggert Cowan, Dr. Vance Brink and David Suzuki. Wayne went on to work with the Canadian Wildlife Service in Edmonton, and do graduate level research studying mountain goats in Jasper. Travels through Latin America and time spent as a research assistant In the Galapagos Islands solidified Wayne’s passion to become a wildlife research scientist.

Upon his return to New Denver, a dearth of biologist jobs in the West Kootenays forced him back into mining exploration and management In the Slocan Valley for a few years (work he had done as a university student to cover tuition costs) until he started his career as an independent wildlife consultant for a consulting firm doing pipeline-barren ground caribou research in the Arctic. The realization he could still survive in the Kootenays but would have to work away as a consultant would go on to shape his career.

As one of the original founders of the Valhalla Wilderness Society, Wayne and his colleagues initiated a campaign to protect the Valhalla Range; a project that succeeded in 1983. He also spearheaded Valhalla Wilderness Society research and drives to save the Khutzeymateen Grizzly Sanctuary (1993), the White Grizzly/Goat Range Park (1995) and Spirit Bear Conservancy Complex (2006).  Collectively, these areas represent about half a million acres of protected habitats for bears in British Columbia. Western Canada’s first wild horse preserve in the Nemiah Valley is also the result of Wayne’s research for the Xeni Gwet’in First Nation and Friends of Nemaiah Valley.  He is currently heading a ground-breaking wild horse genetics and genome study in cooperation with the Xeni Gwet’in First Nation.

Wayne feels he had another landmark conservation year in 2017.

In addition to the provincial government’s ban on grizzly trophy hunting, he considers the purchase of the 35-acre Snk’mip (Bonanza) marsh at the head of Slocan Lake by the Valhalla Foundation for Ecology, of which Wayne is the president, a huge conservation success both locally and regionally.

“We are grateful to the many private donors, KCP for paying for the appraisal and FWCP for making a significant contribution to the acquisition,” he said. “For us in the Slocan Valley this was a dream come true.”

In December 2017, Wayne one of the 75 individuals named to the Land trust alliance of BC (LTABC)’s Canada 150 land trust Honour Roll. For details and the full list visit the LTABC website at http://ltabc.ca/uncategorized/canada-150-land-trust-honour-roll-reaches-70-inviduals/

In 2018 and beyond, Wayne looks forward to hopeful final protection of the Valhalla Society’s 251,000-hectare Selkirk Mountain Caribou Park Proposal that will protect vital old-growth and connect Glacier National Park to the Bugaboos and Goat Range Provincial Park.

“This will be a major contribution of the large landscape protection still needed in the West Kootenays,” said Wayne.