B.C. petition to end wolf cull submitted to province

Wolf Awareness says more habitat must be protected to save ailing caribou

B.C. petition to end wolf cull submitted to province

Conservation group Wolf Awareness has submitted a petition calling for the the B.C. government to end annual wolf culls.

“Wolves didn’t put caribou in this terrible situation. We did,” said Sadie Parr, executive director of Wolf Awareness, which is based in Golden, B.C.

The petition has over 3,000 signatures from across B.C., and was submitted to the province in November.

The aerial wolf management program was introduced in 2015 and was scheduled for five years. So far, 527 wolves have been killed province-wide. The program included the Revelstoke area in 2017. Since then, 29 wolves have been killed north of the city.

“I am extremely concerned that my tax dollars are funding an inhumane wildlife program that is being done under the guise of conservation,” said Parr.

READ MORE: Wolf cull ends for this year with 84 killed

Since 2015, wolves have been destroyed in the South Selkirks to help caribou. This winter there are only two females caribou left in that herd. Those two along with the four remaining in the South Purcell herd will be netted and taken to a rearing pen north of Revelstoke. The South Selkirk herd is the last herd that migrates back and forth between Canada and the U.S. Soon, there will be no caribou in the contiguous United States.

They will be extinct.

READ MORE: Caribou maternity pen project nears its end by Revelstoke

“This is where I get shivers and I get scared because it seems to me that society is witnessing this extinction. It’s death by a million cuts,” said Parr.

According to Wildsafe B.C. there are approximately 8,500 wolves in B.C and the B.C. government says that number is increasing.

The province wrote in an email to the Revelstoke Review that the wolf cull is benefiting three herd areas: Moberly, Quintette near Tumbler Ridge and Kennedy Siding, located 25 kilometres southeast of Mackenzie, B.C. All three are increasing whereas they were previously declining.

However, Parr questions the province’s claims on herds increasing in population. She says it’s possible that some herds are merging together and therefore appear to be increasing in size.

According to the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development wolves are the leading cause of caribou mortality, with about 40 per cent of investigated adult caribou deaths relating to wolves.

The B.C. government also states that the forestry sector has a significant impact on caribou habitat.

Parr said conserving habitat is more important for caribou. Much more so than killing other wildlife.

“We know what’s bad for caribou. Yet, we’re continuing to develop in areas that have been identified as critical for caribou.”

READ MORE: B.C. communities want say in caribou recovery

For example, Imperial Metals is developing a zinc-lead mine near Upper Seymour Provincial Park, which is in caribou habitat. Since May, the B.C. government has also approved 83 logging cut blocks in caribou habitat.

Critics of the provincial government say not enough old growth forest is being protected.

“Old growth is essential for caribou,” said Virgina Thompson, a Revelstoke local that worked on previous caribou recovery plans.

Old growth forests not only provides lichen, which is the main food source for caribou, but also protection against predators.

Particularly in Revelstoke, old growth protection is lacking, according to Thompson.

“Instead, we’ve had a blood bath.”

The wolf management program has killed 527 wolves province-wide. (File)

The B.C. government says the wolf management program is necessary to ensure caribou’s survival. Caribou in B.C. have declined from 40,000 in the early 1900s to less than 19,000 today. There are 54 herds provincewide, 30 of which are at risk of extinction and 14 have fewer than 25 animals.

The province has committed $27 million to the Caribou Recovery Program that aims to recover and conserve woodland caribou. The program aims to release a final paper by the end of the year.

Parr says she hopes that predator control will not be included in a new recovery plan for caribou.

“What we’re doing is wrong. Killing hundreds of one species to benefit another is unethical.”

READ MORE: City of Revelstoke concerned with policy proposed for the Provincial Caribou Recovery Program

Parr said the province must go beyond culls.

“Ethics aside. Kill all the wildlife you like. It’s not just about saving caribou on the landscape. It should be about preserving functioning ecosystems. Wolves are a smoke screen.”

It’s important to note that wolves are not the only predator of caribou.

A recent study by the University of Victoria says it can be problematic focusing heavily on wolf management as it can leave caribou extremely vulnerable to other predators, such as black bears and coyotes.

To make predator control truly successful governments would have to kill all predators says Parr.

The province notes that killing wolves can increase other prey species, such as moose and deer, which can in turn result in even more wolves.

However, the B.C. government wrote in an email that it’s being mitigated by increasing hunting allowances.

They continued that the wolf management program is only a short term solution.

Thompson said there’s no way the predator control program in Revelstoke can be short term.

“We need the habitat to go along with it.”

While caribou have been declining for decades, there’s been little government policy.

However, Parr expects that to soon change with the federal government. Under the Species at Risk Act the Canadian government could take action, such as further restrict industrial development if they think the provincial government is failing to protect caribou.

One of the hurdles to protecting caribou is potential economic harm. Parr said that is probably one of the reasons why any government has failed to act. And if so, it’s time to be honest about it.

“If we’re allowing the economy to trump species preservation and ecosystems then at least let us be honest about that. And stop killing other species under this false pretense of saving caribou.”

Thompson couldn’t agree more.

“We don’t want to give anything up. We just keep killing.”


 

@pointypeak701
liam.harrap@revelstokereview.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Almost every health region in the province saw an increase in overdose calls last year. (Blackpress files)
Overdose call numbers reach five-year-high in Maple Ridge.

BC Emergency Health Services responded to almost 500 local calls in 2020

Members of the Maple Ridge Disc Golf Club team up to update the “frolf” course at Thornhill Park. (Special to The News)
Maple Ridge Disc Golf Club helps upgrade local course

Thornhill Park frisbee links usage has skyrocketed since pandemic

Cody Malawsky at the box lacrosse provincials in 2019. As the highly skilled player adds size he will dominate junior, predicts longtime coach Daren Fridge. (Tim McCormick/Special to The News)
Ridge Meadows Hospice Society volunteer Jill Constable. (Ridge Meadows Hospice Society/Special to The News)
Ridge Meadows Hospice celebrating 25 years

Celebratory White Dove Dinner raising money for support and grief programs

Ralliers gather in front of the Cityviews Village apartment building in Maple Ridge to protest attempts to evict low-income tenants by the building owner. (Ronan O’Doherty - The News)
Tenants protest pressure tactics by new landlord at Maple Ridge apartment building

Protest held in front of Cityviews Village on 223 St. Tuesday to rally against low-income evictions

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, vice-president of logistics and operations at the Public Health Agency of Canada, speaks at a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa, on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
B.C. records 500 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, 14 deaths

Outbreak at Surrey Pretrial jail, two more in health care

A woman writes a message on a memorial mural wall by street artist James “Smokey Devil” Hardy during a memorial to remember victims of illicit drug overdose deaths on International Overdose Awareness Day, in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, on Monday, August 31, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. paramedics respond to record-breaking number of overdose calls in 2020

On the front lines, COVID-19 has not only led to more calls, but increased the complexity

Eighteen-year-old Aidan Webber died in a marine accident in 2019. He was a Canadian Junior BMX champion from Nanaimo. (Submitted)
Inadequate safety training a factor in teen BMX star’s workplace death in 2019

Aidan Webber was crushed by a barge at a fish farm near Port Hardy

Southern resident killer whales in B.C. waters. Research shows the population’s females are more negatively influenced by vessel traffic than males. (Photo supplied by Ocean Wise Conservation Association)
Female orcas less likely to feed in presence of vessel traffic: study

Research the southern resident population raises concerns over reproduction capacity

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

(Black Press Media files)
Transport Canada not budging on enclosed deck rules, despite calls from BC Ferries union

There have been at least 23 cases of the U.K. variant detected in Canada, four of which are in B.C.

The Elk Valley Hospital is adapting to meet the needs of patients in the Elk Valley.
1-in-5 COVID tests coming back positive in and around Fernie, sparking concern

Dr Ron Clark of Elk Valley Hospital said one in five tests was returning positive for COVID-19

Throughout December, RCMP conducted CounterAttack road checks as police worked to keep roads free of impaired drivers. (BLACK PRESS file photo)
‘You can’t make this stuff up’: Stories from the B.C. CounterAttack campaign

Amusing, yes, but a reminder impaired driving affects ability to drive and to make good decisions

Snow is forecasted to appear in parts of Metro Vancouver this weekend. (Black Press Media files)
Snow forecasted for parts of Lower Mainland this weekend

Environment Canada is predicting flurries and snow from Saturday to Monday evening

Most Read