The government of British Columbia will continue its controversial wolf cull this year with the intent of saving the dwindling herds of mountain caribou in the South Selkirk and South Peace regions.
It’s not a strategy with any guarantee of success but it gained the reluctant support of conservation group Wildsight last year.
“The short-term strategies to remove wolves may not ultimately lead to mountain caribou recovery,” wrote director John Bergenske in his blog.
“We recognize and accept that risk. But the wolves will come back, the caribou will not.”
However, opposition to the cull is mounting. Singer Miley Cyrus made a much publicized visit to B.C. last week to protest the wolf cull, and asked her millions of followers on Instagram to sign a petition against it.
Premier Christy Clark didn’t appreciate the act and told Cyrus to stick to singing. If the province needed advice on the singer’s signature dance move — twerking — they would ask, the Premier said.
Pamela Anderson has also spoken out against it.
Celebrities aside, however, there is opposition to the cull and it is getting a visible boost on the Trans Canada Highway.
With support and project sponsorship received from Animal Alliance of Canada, non-profit group Wolf Awareness has erected a billboard on the Trans-Canada Highway just west of Golden.
“The billboard is intended to bring exposure to BC’s aerial gunning experiment and lackadaisical hunting and trapping regulations, alerting visitors and residents alike to the mistreatment of this highly intelligent and social species,” said Sadie Parr from Wolf Awareness Inc.
“Through the Freedom of Information process, Wolf Awareness president Gary Allan has revealed that the province’s plans to kill wolves on a large scale surrounding the South Peace and South Selkirk caribou herds will last for a minimum of five years. Further information gained through the FOIP confirmed the pre-determined agenda of the recently released provincial wolf management plan (April 17, 2014) to legitimize the systematic killing of wolves, validating massive concerns raised during the public comment period. Within a week of releasing the new management plan, there were aircrafts searching for wolves to gun down. Wolf Awareness also revealed the experimental nature of the plan to kill this apex predator under the guise of caribou conservation, as recently admitted by assistant Deputy Minister Tom Ethier in public statements.”
Ethier did state publicly that the efficacy of the wolf cull in protecting mountain caribou wasn’t certain. The government was still trying to figure out if it will work, he said.
Parr has strong words for that strategy.
“Many wolf biologists argue that allowing wolves to express their natural social behaviour benefits the wider ecosystem as well as wolves. The BC government wants to kill wolves for sport, to appease ranchers, and under the pretense of recovering an endangered species that has little habitat left.”
“Habitat recovery continues to be an important part of caribou recovery, but cannot address the critical needs of these herds in the short term,” said the government in a statement last spring.