journalism that swims
against the current.
Rights + Justice
BC Politics

BC's Wolf Killing Plan on Pause, for Now

This year's cull wraps up short of target, though 'intent is the program will continue,' minister says.

Andrew MacLeod 22 Apr

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee's Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria and the author of A Better Place on Earth: The Search for Fairness in Super Unequal British Columbia (Harbour Publishing, April 2015). Find him on Twitter or reach him here.

The British Columbia government has temporarily stopped killing wolves, and conservationists are pushing to make the pause permanent.

"I don't want people thinking it's over," said Sadie Parr, the director of the non-profit company Wolf Awareness Inc. in Golden, noting the B.C. government plans to continue to kill wolves over the next five years.

In January, the government announced that ministry staff in helicopters would shoot up to 184 wolves before the snow melted in an attempt to protect mountain caribou in two regions of the province. Wolves are easier to track when their footprints are visible in the snow.

But on April 16, the province announced it was concluding the program for the year, having killed only 73 wolves in the South Peace Region and 11 in the South Selkirk Mountains.

The controversial plan divided environmental groups. Some condemned the cull, saying it punishes wolves when the real problem is that industries like oil and gas, recreation and forestry have altered the landscape in ways that disadvantage caribou.

Others accepted the government's argument that it is necessary to remove wolves to give caribou populations a chance to recover while steps are taken to protect habitat.

Andrew Weaver, the only BC Green Party MLA, has said that on balance he supports the cull.

Cull will continue, says minister

Steve Thomson, B.C.'s minister of Forests, Land and Natural Resource Operations, said that ministry staff will kill more wolves next winter. "The program was always considered to be a multi-year program," he said. "It won't be effective if it's just one year, so we need to monitor the wolf populations, monitor the caribou population, and the intent is the program will continue."

The cull was more successful in the South Selkirks than in the Peace River where there were weather challenges, but overall it was a good start, he said.

"I know there are many people who are opposed to that action being taken," Thomson said, noting the government had the support of some First Nations and environmental groups. "It was a very, very difficult decision, but it was a decision that I felt needed to be made in order to give those caribou herds a chance of recovery."

The South Selkirk caribou population was down to just 14 animals in March 2015, four fewer than a year earlier, according to a government news release. In four herds in the South Peace, totalling as few as 163 caribou, at least 37 per cent of caribou deaths were caused by wolves, the government has said.

Parr said that her group and others are working to keep the wolf killing program from re-starting. Wolf Awareness has made public presentations in Invermere, Golden, Revelstoke and Whistler, she said, and the organization is planning more presentations in future.

"The wolf is treated like vermin, whether it is for caribou or other reasons," Parr said.

Besides killing wolves from helicopters, the province allows hunters and trappers to kill some 1,000 wolves a year, she added. "This is a new thing, but it really is only, in my opinion, a small piece of the slaughter that's happening."

When the government announced the wolf cull, it said the plan had been peer reviewed. It has yet to release the peer review documents.  [Tyee]

  • Share:

Facts matter. Get The Tyee's in-depth journalism delivered to your inbox for free

Tyee Commenting Guidelines

Comments that violate guidelines risk being deleted, and violations may result in a temporary or permanent user ban. Maintain the spirit of good conversation to stay in the discussion.
*Please note The Tyee is not a forum for spreading misinformation about COVID-19, denying its existence or minimizing its risk to public health.


  • Be thoughtful about how your words may affect the communities you are addressing. Language matters
  • Challenge arguments, not commenters
  • Flag trolls and guideline violations
  • Treat all with respect and curiosity, learn from differences of opinion
  • Verify facts, debunk rumours, point out logical fallacies
  • Add context and background
  • Note typos and reporting blind spots
  • Stay on topic

Do not:

  • Use sexist, classist, racist, homophobic or transphobic language
  • Ridicule, misgender, bully, threaten, name call, troll or wish harm on others
  • Personally attack authors or contributors
  • Spread misinformation or perpetuate conspiracies
  • Libel, defame or publish falsehoods
  • Attempt to guess other commenters’ real-life identities
  • Post links without providing context


The Barometer

Are You Concerned about COVID Transmission in Schools This Fall?

Take this week's poll