Jump to content
  • BC needs to change its sad history of wolf management


    The text below was written as an open letter to Katrine Conroy, Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development. The authors, Dr John and Mary Theberge are Canada’s senior wolf research biologists.

     

    Dear Minister Conroy:

    AS CANADA'S SENIOR WOLF BIOLOGISTS, we have a historical perspective on BC’s wolf management policies, which again have risen to public controversy.  We applaud your apparent willingness to review this subject as reported in Focus on Victoria recently, although from considerable experience measuring wolf natality, we note your mistaken opinion that “they breed like rabbits.”  Wolves breed only once per year and normally not until at least 2 years of age. Besides, natality is certainly not the only relevant parameter for evaluating the capability of population persistence or recovery after persecution. Multiple factors, especially early natural mortality, influence wolf recruitment, which varies widely according to environmental variables. 

    BC has had a very persistent history of government sponsored wolf killing, as much or possibly more than any other Canadian jurisdiction.  Even back in the 1960s the Province had an enthusiastic predator control program that raised the ire and the pen of world-renowned wolf biologist and forester Douglas Pimlott for its “War on Wolves.” But ironically, despite several seemingly positive steps, notably game- and fur-bearer status and a policy against wolf killing to increase prey abundance for hunters, 60 years later, little on the ground has changed. In the past 15 years the Province has shot over 1,000 wolves from the air, has left most of the Province still without any hunter bag limits or any regulations whatsoever on trapping.

    In the government’s partial defence, both data and its interpretation for making management decisions on wolves are hard to come by. It is both difficult and costly to conduct extensive surveys supplemented, as they must be especially in forested areas, with radio collaring, which together provide the only reasonably reliable technique. We know that from more than a decade of doing it just for relatively small Algonquin Provincial Park. And because this approach can be applied to only chosen blocks of land for logistic reasons, the last BC population figure (2014) of 8,200 is highly imprecise and unreliable, especially expressed as it was with no statistic estimate of sampling error.  

    Furthermore, predator/prey theory, necessary for interpretation of data, is exceedingly complex, leaving room for uncertainty that invites political miscalculation and manipulation. Few people realize that among various alternative models of possible wolf/prey relationships, one that operates commonly (though counterintuitively) describes wolf killing that does not decrease prey numbers in subsequent years. One cannot dismiss that model without acquiring very specific data including habitat evaluation, and capture and assessment of prey body condition. Both pre-existing bias and added costs of obtaining such data often deflect any effort to do so.  

    Despite these difficulties, the BC government has “soldiered-on” killing wolves as if it knew what it was doing. For example, in 1990 it was under criticism for planning extensive wolf killing on northern Vancouver Island. Wolves, the government said, were killing off black-tailed deer. To defuse public criticism, an advisory group was established, where John was an invited participant. The Province supplied all its information on predator, prey and habitat. Obtaining additional climate and snowfall data, John demonstrated a statistical correlation between deer decline and weather. Additionally, and uncomfortably similar to the situation today, there was an added land mismanagement component, in this case excessive clearcut logging. The issue was brought up in the context of BC’s wolf and wildlife mismanagement in a CBC Nature of Things program, with public comment invited. It was swamped with outraged letters. The national black-eye it gave the Province led to cancellation of the kill.

     

    24534241_SleepingWolfIanMcAllister.thumb.jpg.267d8c3ed2691603116cd1064b95f567.jpg

     

    Since then, wolf killing has gone on across the province. For decades, perhaps no jurisdiction in North America sponsored as extensive aerial wolf killing as went on in the Fort St John region. Now, that level of killing has spread to other various places across the province, conveniently rationalized to increase caribou numbers. The validity of this rationale will soon be tested in court.  

    All this has given BC a poor reputation on the international stage. John served for many years as a Canadian representative on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s Wolf Specialist Group. The Group included representatives from most countries in the world that had wolves and was charged with reviewing and giving direction on wolf conservation policies. Delegates from countries such as the United States, which were struggling to reintroduce and recover their wolf populations, found it difficult to understand BC’s excessive wolf killing. Biologists asked how much land is protected for wolf conservation? The answer for BC? None of sufficient size other than national parks.  

    Back in 1990, World Wildlife Fund Canada saw persecution and habitat loss as incrementally and ultimately shrinking the land base for our suite of archetypal large carnivores—wolves, bears, cougars. They proposed the establishment of a system of “large carnivore conservation areas,” which would be adjacent to large provincial parks where possible. There, wolf management would change from persecution to protection. BC did not support it.

    In our recent decades of research, we have worked largely in Yellowstone National Park where, with overwhelming public support, wolves were successfully re-introduced in the mid 1990s. Studying wolves in open country has allowed us to understand them as a highly developed social species, one whose pack lives, division of labour and cooperation parallels early human societies in focal ways.  

    But understanding wolves that way is not why more than half a million people have signed Pacific Wild’s pro-wolf petition.  Most of these people simply object to the senseless killing of animals that are part of Canada’s wild heritage—regardless of conservation status.  

    Granted there will always be conflicting viewpoints about the wolf, but a large segment of public opinion has shifted. In recognition of this fact, what sort of parallel shift has there been in government policy? What sort of attempt at balance?

    What should the BC government do to amend its sad history of wolf management? 1) Stop its aerial wolf killing. 2) Protect wolves in its large provincial parks buffered, like Algonquin in Ontario, into land units of sufficient size. 3) Put more money into wolf censusing and scientific predator/prey evaluation. 4) Set hunting and trapping regulations accordingly. 5) Stop recreational trophy hunting of wolves.

    After all, wolves are BC’s most controversial species and as such, demand a more pluralistic, sensitive, and data-sufficient approach to their management and well-being.

    Dr. John and Mary Theberge

    Dr. John and Mary Theberge have conducted more than five decades of wolf research based largely from the University of Waterloo. Their wolf studies have been conducted in Ontario, Yukon, Quebec, Labrador, Wyoming, Arizona and New Mexico. They have written 2 books and numerous scientific paper and popular articles on wolves and related land management issue. They now live near Cowichan Bay on Vancouver Island.     

     


    User Feedback

    Recommended Comments

    March 24, 2021 will be the first anniversary of Takaya’s death on Vanvouver Island! We must demand  meaningful changes in the way wolves are ‘managed’ -  listen to the scientists and ‘non-consumptive’ wildlife community when adopting policies and laws! These laws and policies for too long have been developed by hunters and trappers to meet their needs not the needs of the animal or the ecosystem they inhabit. 

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    how many of those that comment have worked and lived in areas that the wolves live in. I live work and play in those areas and see what actually goes on there is a need to control the large predators due to shrinking habitats if we want to see all animals survive. There is a need to change forestry practices so we are not destroying the feed for wildlife 

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    I don't know who anointed you "Canada's Senior Wolf Biologists", but it wasn't anybody I know.  "The Duke and Duchess of Sussex" might be available soon, try that one out. 🤔

     Valerius Geist in Canada and Charles Kay in the States are the two voices I most trust. Your article shows an emotional response meant to please the abolitionists, not a scientific one, meant to protect ALL game species. 

    The basic fact of the matter is that there are more wolves in B.C. now than at any other time in history. Full stop.

    Wolf control is necessary, and is regulated by the Province of British Columbia through hunting regulations. Those limits imposed by the province have gotten more liberal over time because wolves are prolific breeders, and an estimated 70% of populations would have to be culled to control the numbers. That's virtually impossible, because so few people hunt them.

    I'll say it again: All ungulates and predators in B.C. are strictly controlled by the Province through Hunting Regulations, and have been for many, many years. Licenses and tags are purchased and the money used to support further research. The Habitat Conservation Trust Fund benefits greatly from the proceeds from these purchases, and the wildlife then benefits from these studies, and habitat reclamation provided BY HUNTERS, and by the countless hours of volunteer time provided by outdoorsmen and women in the field.  No hunters, no money, no research, no volunteers. All gone. 

     Unfortunately, after most hunters fill their legal tags, (or not, due in large part to predation on ungulates), they put away their rifles, bows, and muzzle loaders for the season. Wolf control is difficult, expensive, and time consuming. More of British Columbia's hunters need to get out and help control them during winter months, when the fur is prime, and before spring time, and yet again, more wolves. 

    I encourage all hunters to take the time to buddy up, and get out there and help control wolf populations.

     They are NOT "endangered" in any way, shape or form. Quite the opposite, in fact, and it's up to the people of B.C. to ensure our future hunting right to harvest wild game by controlling these prolific breeders, and, quite often, surplus killers, before it's so imperiled that we won't be allowed to feed ourselves and our families with organic, free range, healthy meat, as is our right.

    Save an endangered Mountain Caribou or three. Save a Moose calf or ten. Save a Mule Deer or twenty. Get out there and learn to hunt wolves, coyotes, and other predators. 

    And good luck in the hunt, our Canadian right, our privilege, and our heritage.

     

     

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites
    On 2021-03-22 at 4:57 AM, Chris W said:

    I don't know who anointed you "Canada's Senior Wolf Biologists", but it wasn't anybody I know.  "The Duke and Duchess of Sussex" might be available soon, try that one out. 🤔

     Valerius Geist in Canada and Charles Kay in the States are the two voices I most trust. Your article shows an emotional response meant to please the abolitionists, not a scientific one, meant to protect ALL game species. 

    The basic fact of the matter is that there are more wolves in B.C. now than at any other time in history. Full stop.

    Wolf control is necessary, and is regulated by the Province of British Columbia through hunting regulations. Those limits imposed by the province have gotten more liberal over time because wolves are prolific breeders, and an estimated 70% of populations would have to be culled to control the numbers. That's virtually impossible, because so few people hunt them.

    I'll say it again: All ungulates and predators in B.C. are strictly controlled by the Province through Hunting Regulations, and have been for many, many years. Licenses and tags are purchased and the money used to support further research. The Habitat Conservation Trust Fund benefits greatly from the proceeds from these purchases, and the wildlife then benefits from these studies, and habitat reclamation provided BY HUNTERS, and by the countless hours of volunteer time provided by outdoorsmen and women in the field.  No hunters, no money, no research, no volunteers. All gone. 

     Unfortunately, after most hunters fill their legal tags, (or not, due in large part to predation on ungulates), they put away their rifles, bows, and muzzle loaders for the season. Wolf control is difficult, expensive, and time consuming. More of British Columbia's hunters need to get out and help control them during winter months, when the fur is prime, and before spring time, and yet again, more wolves. 

    I encourage all hunters to take the time to buddy up, and get out there and help control wolf populations.

     They are NOT "endangered" in any way, shape or form. Quite the opposite, in fact, and it's up to the people of B.C. to ensure our future hunting right to harvest wild game by controlling these prolific breeders, and, quite often, surplus killers, before it's so imperiled that we won't be allowed to feed ourselves and our families with organic, free range, healthy meat, as is our right.

    Save an endangered Mountain Caribou or three. Save a Moose calf or ten. Save a Mule Deer or twenty. Get out there and learn to hunt wolves, coyotes, and other predators. 

    And good luck in the hunt, our Canadian right, our privilege, and our heritage.

     

     

    Chris W,  There's only one species on this planet in need of 'controlling these prolific breeders and quite often, surplus killers,' before the planet is so imperiled that we've destroyed the web of biological life & fractured everything else that's needed to sustain all life & the planet itself.  While seeking what we claim to be 'our (egomaniacal) right.'

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites
    9 minutes ago, M Leybra said:

    Chris W,  There's only one species on this planet in need of 'controlling these prolific breeders and quite often, surplus killers,' before the planet is so imperiled that we've destroyed the web of biological life & fractured everything else that's needed to sustain all life & the planet itself.  While seeking what we claim to be 'our (egomaniacal) right.'

    "Egomaniacal". Big word. Wrong context, however.

    I agree that the planet is overpopulated. No argument there. Perhaps you should get spayed or neutered to make sure you do your part in human population control, depending on your gender. Or come up with a solid plan to combat the religions that preach and enforce human proliferation. Or just become Thanos.

    But until you accomplish your task, humans are here to stay. We need fewer humans with smaller individual footprints.Whining about proper wildlife management accomplishes absolutely zero. Wolves need to be controlled. 

     Have a nice day   

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites
    On 2021-03-22 at 1:57 AM, Chris W said:

    I don't know who anointed you "Canada's Senior Wolf Biologists", but it wasn't anybody I know.  "The Duke and Duchess of Sussex" might be available soon, try that one out. 🤔

     Valerius Geist in Canada and Charles Kay in the States are the two voices I most trust. Your article shows an emotional response meant to please the abolitionists, not a scientific one, meant to protect ALL game species. 

    The basic fact of the matter is that there are more wolves in B.C. now than at any other time in history. Full stop.

    Wolf control is necessary, and is regulated by the Province of British Columbia through hunting regulations. Those limits imposed by the province have gotten more liberal over time because wolves are prolific breeders, and an estimated 70% of populations would have to be culled to control the numbers. That's virtually impossible, because so few people hunt them.

    I'll say it again: All ungulates and predators in B.C. are strictly controlled by the Province through Hunting Regulations, and have been for many, many years. Licenses and tags are purchased and the money used to support further research. The Habitat Conservation Trust Fund benefits greatly from the proceeds from these purchases, and the wildlife then benefits from these studies, and habitat reclamation provided BY HUNTERS, and by the countless hours of volunteer time provided by outdoorsmen and women in the field.  No hunters, no money, no research, no volunteers. All gone. 

     Unfortunately, after most hunters fill their legal tags, (or not, due in large part to predation on ungulates), they put away their rifles, bows, and muzzle loaders for the season. Wolf control is difficult, expensive, and time consuming. More of British Columbia's hunters need to get out and help control them during winter months, when the fur is prime, and before spring time, and yet again, more wolves. 

    I encourage all hunters to take the time to buddy up, and get out there and help control wolf populations.

     They are NOT "endangered" in any way, shape or form. Quite the opposite, in fact, and it's up to the people of B.C. to ensure our future hunting right to harvest wild game by controlling these prolific breeders, and, quite often, surplus killers, before it's so imperiled that we won't be allowed to feed ourselves and our families with organic, free range, healthy meat, as is our right.

    Save an endangered Mountain Caribou or three. Save a Moose calf or ten. Save a Mule Deer or twenty. Get out there and learn to hunt wolves, coyotes, and other predators. 

    And good luck in the hunt, our Canadian right, our privilege, and our heritage.

     

     

    Good luck is correct....your time is running out

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    We need to manage our wildlife through science driven management. On the other hand our forests are being destroyed. That will not help with the predator prey balance. Being a person that works in the wildlife industry there is definitely work to be done. But on the other hand you can't just stop doing all the trapping or hunting for predators. 

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites
    On 2021-03-22 at 8:57 AM, Chris W said:

    I don't know who anointed you "Canada's Senior Wolf Biologists", but it wasn't anybody I know.  "The Duke and Duchess of Sussex" might be available soon, try that one out. 🤔

     Valerius Geist in Canada and Charles Kay in the States are the two voices I most trust. Your article shows an emotional response meant to please the abolitionists, not a scientific one, meant to protect ALL game species. 

    The basic fact of the matter is that there are more wolves in B.C. now than at any other time in history. Full stop.

    Wolf control is necessary, and is regulated by the Province of British Columbia through hunting regulations. Those limits imposed by the province have gotten more liberal over time because wolves are prolific breeders, and an estimated 70% of populations would have to be culled to control the numbers. That's virtually impossible, because so few people hunt them.

    I'll say it again: All ungulates and predators in B.C. are strictly controlled by the Province through Hunting Regulations, and have been for many, many years. Licenses and tags are purchased and the money used to support further research. The Habitat Conservation Trust Fund benefits greatly from the proceeds from these purchases, and the wildlife then benefits from these studies, and habitat reclamation provided BY HUNTERS, and by the countless hours of volunteer time provided by outdoorsmen and women in the field.  No hunters, no money, no research, no volunteers. All gone. 

     Unfortunately, after most hunters fill their legal tags, (or not, due in large part to predation on ungulates), they put away their rifles, bows, and muzzle loaders for the season. Wolf control is difficult, expensive, and time consuming. More of British Columbia's hunters need to get out and help control them during winter months, when the fur is prime, and before spring time, and yet again, more wolves. 

    I encourage all hunters to take the time to buddy up, and get out there and help control wolf populations.

     They are NOT "endangered" in any way, shape or form. Quite the opposite, in fact, and it's up to the people of B.C. to ensure our future hunting right to harvest wild game by controlling these prolific breeders, and, quite often, surplus killers, before it's so imperiled that we won't be allowed to feed ourselves and our families with organic, free range, healthy meat, as is our right.

    Save an endangered Mountain Caribou or three. Save a Moose calf or ten. Save a Mule Deer or twenty. Get out there and learn to hunt wolves, coyotes, and other predators. 

    And good luck in the hunt, our Canadian right, our privilege, and our heritage.

     

     

    Wolves are resilient.  I wouldn't describe them as prolific breeders.  And if they were, according to your remarks, you fail to take account of pup mortality which is high.

    I don't know who annointed you to post your "facts" that are less than factual.  The only facts you espouse are hyperbolic.

    And by the way, when did you have your vasectomy?

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites


    Join the conversation

    You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

    Guest
    Add a comment...

    ×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

      Only 75 emoji are allowed.

    ×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

    ×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

    ×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.




×
×
  • Create New...