An amalgamation of not-for-profit organizations working to stop the British Columbia government’s wolf cull program launched Howl2Horgan, a new public engagement campaign targeted at Premier John Horgan. The campaign launched shortly after the B.C. government quietly renewed the wolf cull for another five years despite its own public survey results indicating most individuals oppose the program. Respondents instead overwhelmingly favour habitat protection and restoration as areas they want the government to focus on for caribou recovery.
This morning, several billboards went up on the Patricia Bay Highway on south Vancouver Island, where upwards of 30,000 vehicles travel from B.C.’s lower mainland to downtown Victoria daily. The billboards direct people to a website where they can learn why killing wolves won’t save caribou, and what immediate actions must be taken by the B.C. government to protect habitat. The groups are encouraging people to contact Premier Horgan calling for an immediate end to the cull in favor of safeguarding and restoring critical old-growth caribou habitat.
“Wolves play an important role as apex predators & ecosystem engineers,” said Karen McAllister, Executive Director of Pacific Wild. “The government’s decision to scapegoat wolves represents a failure to protect and restore old-growth forest habitat required for mountain caribou to recover to healthy populations. Caribou depend on old-growth for food, shelter, and safety from predators. This habitat has been fragmented and destroyed by industrial logging, mining, oil and gas exploration, and recreational activity like snowmobiling, heliskiing, and cat skiing. It needs to be protected for caribou to survive and no amount of killing wolves will change that fact.”
The wolf also holds a special, spiritual connection to First Nations — a major reason for the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) to join this project.
“They are our relatives, revered as sacred. We have coexisted with wolves for millennia and they are deeply entrenched in our lifeways and belief systems; they are part of our ceremonies, regalia, and stories. Wolf culls and caribou habitat recovery are complex, interlinked issues for B.C. First Nations that are fundamentally rooted in challenges created by the provincial government and their mismanagement of caribou habitat. Rather than the province imposing unilateral state decisions on wolf culling, territorial management must be up to our proper Title Holders, and their laws, jurisdiction and legal orders must be recognized and upheld,” stated Kukpi7 Judy Wilson, Secretary-Treasurer of the UBCIC.
“Shooting moving wolves from helicopters is inhumane and disregards the suffering of the wolves who are injured and left to die in the snow. This operation is going on with no public oversight,” said Liz White, Director of Animal Alliance. “B.C. is renowned for the wide array of wildlife that call it home. But surprisingly, it’s one of only two Canadian provinces that has not adopted the Canadian Council on Animal Care standards that guide the welfare and humane treatment of animals, including those found in the wild. This is yet another concerning aspect to wildlife management that allows archaic activities like these wolf killings to continue.”
“The program is also a waste of money, having cost taxpayers millions of dollars since it began in 2015,” said Lesley Fox, Executive Director of The Fur-Bearers. “To date, nearly 1,500 wolves have been killed. In the last three years alone, over $4.2 million dollars have been spent–an average of $4,800 per wolf.”
Another member of the project is Takaya’s Legacy, founded by Cheryl Alexander, the photographer and conservationist known for documenting and writing about Takaya. The lone wolf, who lived on a small archipelago off the coast of Victoria, inspired Takaya’s Legacy, the conservation organization founded by Alexander.
“The story of Takaya has captured the hearts and minds of wildlife lovers around the world,” Alexander explained. “His tragic death has become a rallying call for members of B.C.’s constituency to get involved in this issue – to advocate for habitat protection and an end to recreational and government-mandated killing of wolves.”
Everyone who wants immediate habitat protection and restoration for caribou herds and wolves, and an end to the government’s aerial killing program, should visit Howl2Horgan.org to learn more and take action. Phone calls, letters and other opportunities to contact the Premier can be found there.