Caribou plan requires more solutions, government survey shows

January 28, 2022 update: The Fur-Bearers has learned that the BC government has extended the wolf cull for five more years. Despite opposition to the cull and the public’s strong preference for non-lethal options for caribou recovery, the government is proceeding with its predator reduction program which includes the shooting of wolves from helicopters.

People value endangered caribou and believe they deserve protection, survey results released by the British Columbian government show, but a clear majority don’t want the government to kill wolves to achieve this outcome.

The report, titled Predator Reduction for Caribou Recovery Engagement Survey: What We Heard, was prepared for the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development by market research firm R.A. Malatest & Associates Ltd. A total of 15,196 surveys were collected from September 15 to November 15, 2021.

Background: Wolf Cull Science (podcast interview)

Key findings from the report include:

  • 98% of respondents feel that caribou recovery is important
  • Overall, 59% of respondents were against predator reduction and 37% support predator reduction
  • Among stakeholder groups, those opposed to predator reduction were more likely to be concerned citizens, scientists, or those associated with environmental/ecosystem protection, the eco-tourism industry, and First Nations and/or Indigenous stakeholders groups
  • Hunters/trappers, guide outfitters, and those associated with resource extraction, were more likely to support predator reduction
  • Respondents from all regional cohorts but two (Northeast and Omineca) are more likely to list habitat damage from resource extraction as the main cause of caribou decline
  • Respondents from all stakeholder cohorts but two (hunter/trapper and those associated with resource extraction) are more likely to list habitat damage from resource extraction as the main cause of caribou decline
  • All stakeholder cohorts were more likely to rate that caribou recovery is Very Important. The only exception is the resource extraction cohort, in which respondents were more likely to rate it as Important but not very important.
The survey results do not appear to be weighted.
 
A major theme seems to be that people overwhelmingly believe that caribou recovery and protecting wildlife and biodiversity is important, but for the people who are against predator reduction (the majority of respondents), there is a feeling that there are other options to achieve the same end:
 
“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).
 
It is unclear how the province will choose to use this survey, or how it will affect their decision-making regarding killing wolves and predators as part of their caribou recovery plans. 

However, The Fur-Bearers interpret this survey data as a strong rejection of the province’s plans to continue culling wolves, and a clear desire for the government to invest in alternative solutions that focus on the root cause of the caribou decline – habitat destruction.

TAKE ACTION

Write to your MLA today and tell them you want the province to end the wolf cull and invest in scientifically-founded, habitat management efforts that will protect caribou, their habitat, and all other wildlife that belong in these ecosystems.

Click here to find your MLA. You can also email the Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development Katrine Conroy at FLNR.Minister@gov.bc.ca.

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.
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Established in 1953, The Fur-Bearers is a charitable, non-partisan organization whose goals are to end the commercial fur trade and promote solutions for wildlife coexistence in communities. Your donation is tax-deductible. Charitable registration number: 130006125RR0002

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