Animal advocates from Pacific Wild Alliance are sounding the alarm over some recently obtained images from the provinces wolf cull.
“Some of the released photos do not align with what people would consider ethical treatment of wildlife,” says Pacific Wild animal law lawyer Rebeka Breder.
The group has been calling for more transparency for months and recently obtained never-before-seen images of the cull through a freedom of information request.
A package being circulated by the group contains 46 colour images of wolves that have recently been dispatched via helicopter in an effort to restore the endangered caribou population.
“Internal government documents suggest that thousands of other photos, as well as videos, should be on file from the cull, but have not been released,” reads the press release from the organization. “Concerningly, there appear to be over 600 photos missing from responsive records.”
Earlier this year, Deputy Minister for Land and Resource Stewardship Lori Halls communicated to another NGO related to PWA that the cull was following the recommended guidelines.
“The Province follows the American Veterinary Medical Association’s Guidelines for the Euthanasia of Animals and the Guidelines for the Depopulation of Animals,” reads the letter.
“Which state that gunshot is an acceptable and effective method for humanely killing carnivores and is the preferred method for removing large, free-ranging carnivores from the landscape.”
However, in their press release, PWA argues otherwise. According to them the images clearly show a diversion from what the AVMA considers humane when it comes to dispatching animals with a gun.
“Some of the photos released may not align with the assertions of DM Halls that veterinarian guidelines are being met. Specifically, the majority of shots indicated in the responsive records are not controlled head shots,” reads an assertation from the advocacy group in its press release.
According to a figure from the group’s website, the program has claimed 1704 wolves between 2015 and 2022 at the cost of approximately $8 million.
The photos mentioned can be found on the group’s website but be warned — many viewers may find the images graphic.
The cull briefly explained
According to the province, caribou monitoring has shown that wolves are the leading cause of adult caribou mortality.
The issue stems largely from disruptions in the forest’s fragile ecosystem.
When mature, older woodlands are harvested or destroyed by wildfire, the new growth is mainly made up of small leafy shrubs, herbs and grasses — one of the preferred food sources for moose, elk and deer populations. As the general deer population begins to flourish, so too does their immediate predator — the wolf.
Another consideration to be made is the effect industry has had on forests throughout B.C.
The lumber industry has involuntarily made it easier for wolves to hunt the various types of deer. Corridors that are cleared of vegetation and man-made roadways give wolves increased maneuverability that has made it easier to hunt caribou.
Caribou, being one of the more sensitive sub-species of deer, do not reproduce as quickly as the others. Their calves spend more time with their cows, they reproduce at a slower rate, and even then, their low survivability is a huge impediment on their ability to increase and rehabilitate their populations.
As a result, the province maintains that the reduction of wolves is the most effective short-term way to halt declining caribou populations.