British Columbia’s Wolf Cull

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

Position Statement

The Fur-Bearers is opposed to predator reduction as an approach to caribou recovery. The killing of wolves and cougars in British Columbia to restore and maintain caribou populations unfairly victimizes these animals, while industrial development, human activity, and habitat destruction are the key factors driving caribou declines. Capturing, collaring, tracking, and shooting fur-bearing animals from helicopters is inhumane, counter to ethical principles of wildlife management and conservation, and an affront to shared understandings of how wildlife should be treated in British Columbia. The Fur-Bearers is calling on the province to end the wolf cull.

Background

British Columbia is home to several caribou herds. Many caribou species in the province are listed under the federal Species At Risk Act, most notably the Woodland Caribou. Disruptions and changes to caribou habitat have resulted in population declines. As one of its recovery actions to restore caribou populations, the Government of British Columbia has implemented ‘predator reduction’, where predator species (mainly wolves and to a lesser extent cougars) are killed by contractors hired by the provincial government. The primary method employed to kill these animals is via aerial gunning from helicopters. Predator reduction was renewed in 2022 for an additional five-year period.

Problems

The methods used to kill wolves are inhumane. Individual wolves are captured by netting cast from helicopters. The wolves are immobilized by contractors and affixed with GPS radio collars. The contractors track these wolves in helicopters where they lead them to their packs and subsequently shot. In some cases, in what has been called the ‘Judas Wolf’, the radio-collared wolf is left alive. This allows contractors to continue following the wolf until he or she leads them to more wolves where they are killed, the Judas Wolf involuntarily betraying his or her pack.

This process is documented in a 2019 government document: South Peace Caribou Recovery following Five Years of Experimental Wolf Reduction

"The individual wolves were captured via helicopter net-gunning, which enabled crews to restrain the individuals and deploy GPS-satellite radio-collars, allowing for remote tracking of movements and locations, and relocation through the use of radio telemetry. The radio-collared individuals were often left alive following the conclusion of the winter reduction efforts in order to facilitate the location of wolves the following winter.”

- South Peace Caribou Recovery following Five Years of Experiemental Wolf Reduction (report)

Solutions

Research has shown that the root causes of caribou population declines are a result of human activity. This includes industrial activity and resource extraction such as oil and gas development, logging, seismic lines, and an extensive network of logging roads through sensitive environments that fragment caribou habitats. Recreational activities such as off-roading, snowmobiling, and related activities put further strain on caribou habitat. The impacts of climate change and related extreme weather events in the province compound the already difficult situation facing caribou populations.

Resorting to predator reduction demonstrates a failure of the Government of British Columbia to reign in the harmful practices of industries that have brought us to this point. The government needs to seriously and aggressively tackle the root causes of caribou decline and habitat fragmentation. The science is clear: humans, not wolves, are responsible. The killing of wolves and cougars needs to end immediately.

Take Action

The Fur-Bearers is calling on our British Columbia supporters to contact their MLA and express their concerns about the wolf cull. If you’re comfortable doing so, you can request a meeting with your MLA to discuss these issues to have an even greater impact. Click here to find your MLA contact information. Always be polite and include your contact information so your MLA knows you live in their riding. For residents outside of BC, you can send an email to the premier’s office at premier@gov.bc.ca. Some points you can raise in your email:

  • The science has and continues to show that industrial activity and habitat destruction are the primary causes of caribou decline.
  • Killing wolves will not save the caribou populations, particularly while logging and other industrial activity in BC’s forests is left unaddressed, as these have significant, negative impacts on ecosystems.
  • Aerial gunning, trapping and other methods used to kill wolves and cougars as part of this cull are inhumane.
  • Only by following the science to restore habitat in the best interests of the ecosystem and all wildlife, not industry, will caribou populations and their ranges be protected.
  • The majority of respondents in the BC government’s 2022 engagement survey stated they are opposed to predator reduction for caribou recovery.
  • It’s time to end BC’s wolf cull and seriously tackle the human-caused destruction that results in caribou declines.

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About Us

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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