Sunday, December 13, 2015

Province mulls removing wolf limit

Jonny WAKEFIELD / Alaska Highway News
December 11, 2015
Bag limits on wolves could be removed for hunters in the South Peace under a new proposal from the province.
The ministry of forests, lands and natural resource operations is considering removing the three-wolf limit in the Peace, amid growing concern for cattle and ungulate populations in the region.
A "conservative" estimate pegs the number of wolves in the Peace at 2,000. Development in the region has opened up sections of the backcountry, creating ideal hunting grounds for the predators.
The government estimates the current harvest of 275 wolves a year could double and still be sustainable.
The wolf season runs between Aug. 15 and Mar. 31 and Apr. 1 to June 15, with a bag limit of three animals. Under the new proposal, limits on both season and bag limit would be removed.
Dawson Creek Sportsman's Club President Andy Waddell said his organization felt the changes were "a long time coming."
Hunters say growing wolf populations have been taking a toll on moose, elk and deer populations.
Still, Waddell said only the most skilled hunters would be able to top the existing bag limit.
"They're tricky to hunt. They're elusive," he said. "It's unreal how well they can smell, their eye sight is keen--that's why they're one of the top apex predators."
South Peace Cattlemen's Association President Mike McConnell said his organization also supported the proposed amendments.
The association compensates producers who have lost cattle for wolves killed on their private or Crown grazing land.
He said the program is often mistakenly referred to as a wolf bounty.
"The only people eligible to participate are livestock producers in the Peace Region who have suffered losses," he said. "It is really quite specific. I used to get lots of calls wondering about this 'wolf bounty.' But people are starting to understand.
The ministry is accepting comments on the proposal through the end of the year.

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