B.C. wolf cull program must end, wildlife conservation groups say

B.C. wolf cull program must end, wildlife conservation groups say

Wildlife conservation groups are calling on the provincial government to end, what they call, the inhumane and ineffective wolf cull in B.C.

For the past nine years, the government has been culling wolves in the province to try to help restore endangered caribou populations.

According to Mollie Cameron, a wildlife specialist at Pacific Wild, a non-profit located in Victoria, “217 wolves were killed between 2022 and 2023, 248 in the past year between December of 2023 and March of 2024 have been killed in the predator reduction program.”

Cameron says these numbers do not include the amount of wolves being killed legally during hunting.

Just in the regions that are subject to wolf culling, it’s estimated that 5,892 wolves have been killed in the same time frame, bringing the total to 8,084 wolves in nine years which is close to the provincial estimate of 8,500 wolves.

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The Ministry of Water, Land and Resource Stewardship says the program which began in 2015 was the product of years of research working with local First Nations to ensure their consent and incorporate Indigenous knowledge in their approach that’s based on science and sound wildlife management principles.

“After years of research across numerous jurisdictions, we know that predator reduction is an effective, interim measure to halt and reverse caribou population declines and local extinctions in B.C.,” the ministry said.

According to the ministry, conducting predator reduction work as humanely as possible is of the utmost importance and that strict procedures are followed.

Wildlife conservation groups are also taking aim at the so-called “Judas Wolf” method where aerial gunners are dispatched in helicopters to identify a wolf.

Once identified, the wolf is captured and given a tracking collar to lead them to the rest of the pack where culling takes place.

“It’s really heart- wrenching; entire packs are wiped out because of one collared individual,” says Lesley Fox, executive director at The Fur-Bearers, a wildlife charity based in Vancouver.

Documents show the B.C. government has spent more than $10 million on the wolf cull program since it started and it’s expected to continue through 2026.

“Realistically, that money can be invested in so many other programs that would benefit habitats, species protection and conservation,” Fox added.

The ministry says long-term measures to help caribou recovery like habitat protection and restoration are either planned or already in place.

Harry CorroHarry Corro

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