Late last week, the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations announced the release of the Province’s long awaited wolf management plan.
An initial draft was released in November of 2012, and after a large public response with more than 2,500 comments, the final plan was written.
In a press release, the government stated that the plan “fully recognizes that the fundamental goal of wolf management in B.C., as with all other provincial game species, is to maintain self-sustaining populations throughout the species’ range.”
The “two-zone” plan allows for sustainable hunting and trapping opportunities in most areas, with controls in place such as specified season lengths and bag limits. While the other zone (where livestock or other wildlife populations are threatened by wolf predation), the plan commits to “responsibly helping stakeholders, ranchers and First Nations manage the impacts of expanding wolf populations.”
The Wolf Awareness Inc. (WAI), however, believes that the plan disregards the “intrinsic value of these extremely intelligent and social creatures.” The organization views the plan as a “wolf kill plan,” and says the government ignored the 1,614 letters of opposition to the plan during the draft plan’s comment period.
WAI says that “this means that in much more than half of the province, hunters and trappers can now kill an unlimited number of wolves 365 days of the year. Furthermore, the allowable use of bait, neck snares, and motorized vehicles to kill wolves is completely out of sync with any concept of ‘Fair Chase’.”
The current wolf population is estimated at approximately 8,500 in the province, a slight increase over the 1991 estimate of 8,100, indicating that the wolf population is likely stable. Therefore, wolves in B.C. are not considered to be an “at-risk” species.
However, not everyone is convinced by these numbers,
“Unfortunately, the B.C. government does not have an accurate handle on wolf numbers across the province and admits to major uncertainty as to how many wolves are being killed by people, although they know it is an all-time high since record-keeping began in 1976. The plan is based on flawed science. A two-zone approach is set up to kill wolves a) where they overlap with livestock or threatened species, and b) everywhere else for recreation or amusement,” said the WAI.
The government acknowledged that the consultation process revealed that there are strongly differing beliefs and values regarding wolf management practices, and says they relied on sound science to make balanced decisions.
Wolf Awareness Inc. is a non-profit, charitable foundation dedicated to public education regarding the ecology of the gray wolf. Its executive director is Golden resident Sadie Parr.