Monday, January 26, 2015

B.C.’s wolf cull ‘scientifically flawed:’ group

By Stefania Seccia, 24 hours
A wolf advocacy group has called the current cull of 184 grey wolves in B.C. scientifically flawed. 
(Bruce Ranta, Ministry of Natural Resources)
A wolf advocacy group has called the current cull of 184 grey wolves in B.C. scientifically flawed. (Bruce Ranta, Ministry of Natural Resources)

Helicopters are already in the air, flying in the face of science, ethics and also the mass popular opinion of what people are really asking for. — Sadie Parr, Wolf Awareness director
 
The government’s current grey wolf cull - which is targeting 184 animals - to save the dwindling caribou population is being called unethical and scientifically flawed by an advocacy group.

The South Selkirk caribou population is at high risk of local extinction, as the herd has dropped from 49 in 2009 to 18. In four caribou herds in the South Peace region, populations are decreasing, and 37% of adult mortalities have been documented as wolf predation.

In the peer-reviewed Wolf Management Plan released last April, it outlined the targeted aerial wolf removal measure to protect the caribou population.

Sadie Parr, wolf researcher and director of the non-profit foundation Wolf Awareness, said the draft plan received about 2,600 public comments and 66% opposed the current treatment of wolves and called for more humane management.

Wolves are social animals as well, which means killing them will fracture groups, with many moving on to form others, breed more and increase the current population figure of 8,500, according to Parr.
“It’s scientifically flawed,” she said. “They really are treated as vermin. The sad part is this is done under the guise of saving another species. Unfortunately, caribou are on their way out because of humans ... they need old-growth habitat.”

But Tom Ethier, an assistant deputy minister of B.C.’s ministry of forests, lands and natural resource operations, disagrees.

As the evidence points to wolves being the leading cause of caribou mortality, the ministry recognizes that targeted wolf removal is now required, according to Ethier. “The province believes that caribou are a valuable part of the natural ecosystem, and should not be left to slowly die out,” he said. “Other caribou recovery efforts, including habitat protection and restoration, are already in place and will help put caribou back on even footing ecologically, but if we wait for these measures to have an impact it will be too late.”

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