BC quietly renews controversial wolf cull for another 5 years to save caribou

Jan 31 2022, 4:03 am

The BC government has decided to renew the wolf cull program by another five years in its efforts to recover woodland caribou populations, Pacific Wild learned during a call with provincial officials.

The province has confirmed with Daily Hive the “aerial wolf reduction program” has been given the green light.

Now, the conservation group is calling on residents opposed to the killing of the wolves to contact the Ministry of Forests to make their concerns known.

This comes after the province sought out British Columbians’ input on the five-year approval for continuing predator reduction to support recovery of the endangered caribou.

More than 15,000 surveys were completed between September 15th and November 15th, 2021 — 59 per cent of respondents were against predator reduction, while 37 per cent were in support. 98 per cent said caribou recovery is important to them.

A BC wolf. Photo courtesy Pacific Wild (credit Ian McAllister)

The survey participants also ranked the most important caribou recovery actions being considered for implementation. The top three listed were habitat protection, habitat restoration, and habitat management-beneficial management practices for recreation and industry.

One in six respondents also said they believe damage to caribou habitat from natural resource extraction is a main cause of caribou population decline.

“The clear intent is to continue the needless scapegoating and killing of wolves instead of taking essential steps of protecting intact old-growth forests for endangered caribou while ensuring fossil fuel industries do not access and fragment this habitat further,” Pacific Wild Conservation Adviser Ian McAllister said in a release.

“By safeguarding and restoring caribou habitat, B.C. would be doing its part in mitigating climate change while also protecting the full suite of predator-prey relationships that are being destroyed through short-term greed,” McAllister said.

Since the program started in 2015, an estimated 1,500 wolves have been killed, according to Pacific Wild. The group also adds in 2019 and 2020, nearly $2-million of taxpayer money was spent on killing 463 of those wolves.

While the predator reduction program is controversial — so is how the animals are being killed by the government, which includes aerial shooting.

A BC wolf. Photo courtesy Pacific Wild (credit Ian McAllister)

Last year, Pacific Wild took the BC government to court over the legality of shooting the wolves from aircraft, and is waiting for a decision from the Supreme Court.

In a statement, the ministry said the government’s approach to predator reduction “is based on science and sound wildlife management principles.”

“The decision to carry out wolf culls is not taken lightly, but science and past results show that this recovery action is an effective way to decrease predator pressure on B.C.’s threatened caribou herds,” the ministry continued.

Calling predator management a temporary measure, the ministry said years of research shows that it is effective to avoid the further decline of caribou herds in BC.

“No one wants to see caribou disappear,” the province said.

It also said the “emergency, short-term measures” gives the province time to implement longer-term habitat protection, management, and restoration solutions.

Other methods have been used by the province to conserve caribou populations, such as maternal penning, which involves capturing females in late spring and taking them to a secure enclosure so they can give birth in a predator-free environment, as well as herd relocation.

Michelle MortonMichelle Morton

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