Efforts to protect the dwindling mountain caribou population in the South Selkirk mountains will include monitoring two collared wolves until the wolf cull program resumes next winter. There are functioning collars on two wolves in the South Selkirks which are being monitored by ministry biologists.
The ministry said the South Selkirk wolf removal is expected to resume next year when there is adequate snow cover “to be humane and effective.”
Eleven wolves were killed in the South Selkirk to protect 18 caribou deemed species at risk. While the BC government has concluded this season’s wolf cull in the South Selkirks and South Peace, the ministry estimates seven to 10 targeted wolves remain.
“To date these wolves have not ranged into caribou areas, so are not candidates for removal,” read a ministry bulletin dated April 15.
The cull began mid-January with the goal to kill all four wolf packs, amounting to 24 animals, by sharpshooters from a helicopter. The actual costs were $90,000, less than the $150,000 the ministry originally projected.
Other government efforts to recover mountain caribou populations include two caribou maternal penning projects are underway in BC, but aren’t without their own challenges.
There are 18 cows in the Revelstoke project near Mica and 11 cows in the Klinse-za project in the South Peace region.
“One of the key challenges to maternal penning is the presence of predators when the caribou are released back into the wild,” wrote the ministry in an email to the Star. The Klinse-Za herd, for example, suffered “significant mortalities”, with four of nine calves falling to predation very soon after release from the pen.