An animal rights group based in Toronto is taking the province of British Columbia to task over the recent wolf cull.
The cull was ordered this winter to protect the dwindling South Peace and South Selkirk Mountain Caribou herds from more loss due to predation.
Animal Alliance of Canada spokesperson Liz White says a campaign will be launched, in conjunction with other British Columbia groups, and it will target tourism. The goal will be to convince potential visitors to the province, specifically in the U.S. states bordering B.C., that they may want to stay home.
“The idea is that B.C.’s tourism industry is pretty important,” White said. “Visiting B.C. is especially enticing to Americans because of our dollar in relation to theirs; their money goes a lot further. There is increased interest in spending time in B.C. I think a number of people would be very interested in what the B.C. government is doing to wildlife. We hope to influence people not to come.”
The campaign will involve print advertising and other media in the border states and possibly Alberta.
“It sends a very strong message,” White said.
Asked for comment on the campaign, Kootenay East MLA and Minister of Energy and Mines, Bill Bennett, did not address it directly but did further explain the reasoning behind the cull, saying wolves must be managed just like any other species in the province.
“Caribou aside, most prey species are managed intensively,” Bennett said. “Deer, elk, sheep, goats, moose have all kinds of special seasons and rules in attempts by professional wildlife managers to manage the size and overall health of populations. We are long past the times of “letting nature take its course” when it comes to these prey species. But what about predators? We try to manage bears and cougars with hunting and are marginally successful. As for wolves, this species of predator does not lend itself to hunting or trapping. Wolf populations can only be managed thru special methods like culls. It makes no sense to manage prey species and not also manage predators. To not manage predator species is to guarantee an imbalance of too many predators. Most experienced hunters and trappers in the Kootenays will tell you there is an imbalance of too many wolves right now.
“There are so many myths about wolves. As beautiful as they are, it is not true that wolves only take old and weak prey. It is not true that wolves kill only what they can eat. And it is not true that wolves do not attack humans. Wolves are beautiful experts at killing and can wreak havoc on wildlife populations and ranging cattle if not controlled. They must be managed just like other wildlife species in North America.”
Animal Alliance has also been an outspoken opponent of deer culls in B.C. Asked if the deer cull in Oak Bay on Vancouver Island or the upcoming cull in Cranbrook might be a part of the campaign, White said likely not.
“We certainly encouraged people not to visit Cranbrook, Kimberley, Invermere and Elkford for those reasons,” White said. “But the wolf cull and deer cull are two very different issues although the end result to animals is the same.
“It may be the kind of thing we could roll in.”