Hired snipers. Deftly-skilled pilots. And dead wolves. Lots of dead wolves. 180 of them by the time the snow melts in British Columbia in two select areas, the South Peace and the South Selkirks. And the best part? You’re paying for it.
That’s right, every single one of us tree huggers, conservationists, outdoor enthusiasts, hunters, tourists, businesspeople, government employees, and general citizens are paying for the British Columbia government to gun down wolves in these two regions in a misguided attempt to save five different small herds of woodland caribou that are on the brink of extirpation (one in the South Selkirks in the southeast part of the province and four in the South Peace in the north).
|Will we allow BC to follow Alberta’s lead and waste millions of taxpayer dollars killing wolves?|
You would think British Columbia would have gotten on the phone with neighbouring Alberta (they are talking, right? “Hey Christy, it’s Jim, so about those pipelines…”) and asked how Alberta’s own lengthy wolf cull has been going.
In case you missed it on yesterday’s blog, Alberta has killed more than 1,000 wolves since 2005 using a variety of super humane methods (take your pick from strangling to death in a trapper’s snare, getting poisoned with strychnine, or being gunned down from a demon machine chasing you through the snow from above) in efforts to save the Little Smoky caribou herd in the west central part of the province. How successful has it been? To date they’ve spent millions of dollars (I’m guessing at this, as I believe ten years of hired guns and helicopters isn’t cheap), killed a thousand wolves, and seen the Little Smoky caribou herd’s population increase by almost…pardon me, what?! They haven’t increased at all in that whole time?!
The facts surrounding the Alberta wolf cull in the past decade are sobering. The Canadian Journal of Zoology reported in November 2014 that Alberta’s wolf cull failed to achieve any improvement in Boreal Woodland Caribou adult female survival, or any improvement in calf survival, and as such had no effect on population dynamics. In other words, they’re wasting money killing wolves with no scientific basis for doing so.
|The South Peace caribou face local extirpation without a tough new caribou recovery plan|
And British Columbia is now following suit. They have already begun killing wolves in the South Selkirks, where 24 wolves are targeted this winter in an effort to save a remnant herd of just 18 caribou. Another 120-160 wolves will be shot in the South Peace region to bolster four small herds of declining caribou there.
But as I pointed out in yesterday’s blog, scapegoating wolves for the decline in caribou numbers isn’t based in scientific reality. Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) National Executive Director Eric Hebert-Daly told the Canadian Press that “despite scientific information about the negative impact of industrial activity on caribou and the importance of planning for conservation before approving new developments, on the ground it appears to be largely business as usual [in British Columbia].”
“In many instances where ranges are already highly disturbed, the primary cause for caribou mortality is wolf predation. But it is important to note that the increased predation is the outcome of habitat fragmentation, degradation and roads. After an area is logged, new growth attracts other ungulates such as moose and deer, which attract more wolves that indiscriminately prey upon caribou. … In some instances, caribou populations will be extirpated if predation continues unabated. But the killing of wolves in the absence of meaningful habitat protection and restoration is not a viable solution, and may further disrupt the natural balance of functioning ecosystems.”
|Killing wolves to save caribou doesn’t work. Just ask Alberta.|
Until British Columbia puts together a true caribou recovery plan for the South Selkirk, the South Peace, and other critical woodland caribou habitat in British Columbia, then this entire exercise in killing wolves is a moot point and a waste of money and time, not to mention ridiculously unethical — how humane is it to chase wolves from a helicopter? I don’t care how skilled those rented shooters are, there is no chance they kill instantly with every shot.
So what do I mean by a true caribou recovery plan? A few signs restricting snowmobile access into core areas? No logging in the final few drainages that are still intact in the South Selkirks? Sure, that’s a miniscule start that’s already in place, but a real plan will have gnarly, sharp teeth that will bite into every piece of habitat degradation that has gone on over the past century in both regions: immediately halting most logging, mining, and oil and gas activity in current and former caribou range, deactivating roads and atv trails and shutting down all recreational access, and immediately starting the process of restoring the habitat to suit caribou recovery for the long-term. Until that happens, until there is a real plan in place that is armed like those heli gunners, then anything the British Columbia government says or does is just lip service pretending that they care about saving caribou.
If British Columbia is allowed to continue down this path of murdering wolves from the air with no scientific evidence to support the cull, they will end up killing hundreds of wolves, year after year, just like Alberta has. And like in Alberta, the killing will make no difference to caribou recovery efforts. The only way to make a true difference in caribou recovery is to make the hard decisions that protect and restore the habitat. Until that happens, with or without a wolf cull, we will see a continued erosion of the habitat, zero short-term progress in caribou recovery, and, eventually, the extirpation of caribou entirely from the South Selkirks, the South Peace, and the rest of British Columbia.
So what can YOU do to help?
This time it’s even easier to get on board and help than it was with the Alberta campaign.
Want to donate to help in the fight? Visit Pacific Wild’s indiegogo fundraising campaign and consider putting some money into this (there are some amazing gifts to be given away to donators). They just launched the fundraiser this morning and are already almost at $10,000.
Want to sign a petition? Join the more than 90,000 people worldwide that have signed this week at https://www.change.org/p/save-b-c-wolves
Want to write a letter or email to government? Pacific Wild has written a draft letter that you can use or modify and set it up so you can send it directly to the British Columbia government at http://www.pacificwild.org/site/take_action/wolf-action.html (halfway down the page, watch for the blue link ‘Write a Letter/Send an Email’).
Thank you for all of the support everyone, please share this link far and wide and help us get the word out.