Two contentious wolf culls, aimed to help save caribou herds in the South Selkirk Mountains and South Peace, have concluded for this year.
The provincial government’s efforts to save the remaining 18 mountain caribou in the Selkirk Mountains included a contentious wolf cull which will continue for five more years.
The cull began on Jan. 15 with a goal to remove wolf populations threatening caribou herds in the area.
In the South Selkirks, 11 wolves were removed. Of the wolves targeted, seven to 10 remain and are now being monitored to track their movement. To date these wolves have not ranged into caribou areas, so are not candidates for removal.
In the South Peace, 73 wolves were removed, with the majority being in the vicinity of the Moberly and Quintette caribou herds. In one case, six wolves were removed as they were actively stalking 14 caribou.
Both the South Selkirks and South Peace herds have experienced significant losses to wolf predation. The South Selkirk herd numbered 46 caribou in 2009, declining to 14 in the most recent survey conducted in March 2015. This is a loss of four caribou since the 2014 census. The cause of these recent losses is not known, but likely occurred prior to wolf removal actions being taken. Predation on caribou is more common in the fall and summer
In the four caribou herds in the South Peace (Quintette, Moberly, Scott and Kennedy-Siding), populations are also decreasing and wolves are a key factor. At least 37 per cent of all adult mortalities have been documented as wolf predation.
Hunting and trapping of wolves has not effectively reduced populations and may 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.
This is the first year of a five-year project of wolf removal that is being employed in conjunction with ongoing habitat protection efforts.
• In 2012, the B.C. government endorsed a Peace Northern Caribou implementation plan to increase the population of seven Northern Caribou herds in the south Peace area of B.C.
• Through a combination of measures the Peace Northern Caribou Plan will ultimately protect over 498,000 ha of high elevation winter range caribou habitat out of a total of 553,477 ha available.
• In October 2007, the provincial government endorsed the Mountain Caribou Recovery Implementation Plan
◦ Included among the Province’s commitments to Mountain Caribou recovery implementation are the protection of 2.2 million hectares of habitat, including 95% of high-suitability Mountain Caribou habitat, from logging and road building and managing recreation to reduce human disturbance.
◦ For the South Selkirk herd, a significant portion of core caribou habitat (61,000 ha.) has been closed to snowmobile use and almost all core caribou habitat (108,000 ha.) has been protected from logging and road building.
• For information on the current program, including additional background on the Peace Northern Caribou Plan, the Mountain Caribou Recovery Implementation Plan and the Wolf Management Plan visit: www.newsroom.gov.bc.ca/2015/01/government-acting-to-save-endangered-caribou.html.