BC plans to keep killing wolves

A photo of a wolf by John E. Marriott
A grey wolf in British Columbia. Photo by John E. Marriott / WildernessPrints.com

The BC government is moving forward with plans to kill wolves by aerial gunning as part of their caribou recovery plans, despite clear opposition and a desire for alternate solutions from the public.

As initially reported by Pacific Wild and confirmed by Daily Hive and other media outlets, the government is moving ahead with the program that has seen hundreds of wolves killed, while resource exploration and extraction continues in critical caribou habitat.

PODCAST: The Science Behind The Wolf Cull

In a release, Pacific Wild says the province has killed approximately 1,500 wolves since 2015. In 2019 and 2020, nearly $2 million was spent to kill 463 wolves, an average of $4,300 per wolf.

Habitat degradation is the primary cause of the mountain caribou herds populations reaching endangered levels[i], but predator reduction – the killing of wolves – has been the primary response by the government.

Recent survey work conducted by the province indicated that 98% of respondents believe caribou recovery is important, but only 37% support predator reduction. Further, most stakeholder groups (all except hunters/trappers and those associated with resource extraction) listed habitat damage from resource extraction as the primary cause of the caribou decline. A theme that emerged is that many respondents believe more solutions may be available. As per the report, “among those who disagreed with predator reduction, the most frequently mentioned response for why respondents felt that predator reduction was not a necessary action for caribou recovery was that there were better options to achieve same end (83% of those who disagreed with predator reduction).”

Take Action

The Fur-Bearers are encouraging residents to contact their MLA (find yours here) and Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development Katrine Conroy (FLNR.Minister@gov.bc.ca) to call for an end to predator control and an immediate pivot to habitat restoration and non-lethal solutions.

Here are a few key points to include:

  • The science has and continues to show that habitat destruction (from resource extraction and exploration) remains the primary cause of caribou decline.
  • Culling wolves will not save the caribou populations, particularly while resource extraction or exploration continues, and can have significant, negative impacts on ecosystems.
  • Aerial gunning, trapping and other methods used to kill wolves as part of this cull are ineffective and inhumane.
  • Only by following the science to restore habitat in the best interests of the ecosystem, not industry, will caribou populations and their ranges be protected.
  • Always be polite and include your contact information so your MLA knows you live in their riding. Violence, threats, and graphic languages or images detract from the argument and can create ongoing issues in future advocacy efforts.

[i] Harding, L.E., Bourbonnais, M., Cook, A.T. et al. No statistical support for wolf control and maternal penning as conservation measures for endangered mountain caribou. Biodivers Conserv 29, 3051–3060 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10531-020-02008-3

Further Reading

Wilderness Committee: BC allows destruction of caribou habitat to the point of extinction: new report

Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives: Economic benefits from coal mines overstated while vulnerable species rarely protected, new research shows

The Narwhal: B.C. funding caribou extinction through fossil fuel subsidies and tax breaks: study

CBC News: New research shows continued habitat loss will drive caribou to extinction in B.C.

Focus On Victoria: Immediate action needed as habitat loss, not wolves, drive caribou to extinction

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