VICTORIA, B.C. — The controversial government-initiated wolf cull, projected to save endangered caribou in the South Selkirk and South Peace regions of B.C., has ended for the second of a five-year project.
The B.C. government says that hunting and trapping wolves isn’t effectively reducing populations, and could even split up packs and increase predation rates on caribou.
“Habitat recovery continues to be an important part of caribou recovery, but cannot address the critical needs of these herds in the short term,” a press release from the provincial government stated.
The province says 154 wolves were removed in the South Peace, and estimates that there are another 25 wolves in the area. The goal, under the Peace Northern Caribou Plan, is to protect 498,000 hectares of high-elevation winter range caribou habitat. According to the province, at least 37 per cent of all adult caribou deaths are the result of wolf predation. The four core herds have been decreases in caribou population.
Meanwhile, in the South Selkirks, nine wolves were removed with an estimated four to six wolves in the area. However, the province says, none of these wolves have been radio collared to track their movements. The South Selkirk caribou herd saw 46 in 2009, declining to 12 in the most recent survey conducted in March 2016 — meaning six caribou have been lost since the 2014 census.
About 108,000 hectares of core caribou habitat in the area has been protected from logging and roadbuilding.