Two prominent environmental groups are taking the province to court over the legality of B.C.’s “war on wolves.” Pacific Wild and Valhalla Wilderness Society are fighting the province’s contention that the multi-year wolf cull program in the South Peace and Selkirk regions constitutes proper wildlife management. The groups have filed an application for a judicial review of the controversial killings, which used helicopters and snipers to fatally shoot 84 wolves during its first winter last year.

More than 200,000 people have signed a petition calling on the province to end the wolf hunt, and celebrities Pamela Anderson and Miley Cyrus have voiced their opposition.

B.C. maintains the $2.1-million cull program is necessary to protect threatened mountain caribous herds, some of which are threatened with extinction. But Ian McAllister, the executive director of Pacific Wild, says industry is to blame for the herd declines, not wolves.

His group maintains that the caribou habitat has been destroyed by logging, mining and oil and gas exploration, and that the forestry industry has pressured and directly lobbied the province to go ahead with the cull. “If [the province] proceeds – it’s going to end with the deaths of thousands of wolves and won’t save the caribou,” he told CTV Vancouver.
“It’s our contention that this is not proper wildlife management. This is not what biologists and the majority of British Columbians consider proper wildlife management.”

Pacific Wild has received reports that helicopters are currently going into the regions and shooting wolves by air. McAllister hopes the court will respond quickly, before any more animals have to die. “This is nothing short of a war on wolves, orchestrated by the province,” he said. “It is so at odds with what we consider super, natural British Columbia and the values that celebrate our wilderness and natural environment.”

The environmental groups are funding their court battle from the proceeds of a crowdfunding campaign launched in early 2015. The lawsuit is backed by conservation groups including the Association for the Protection of Fur-Bearing Animals, the Wilderness Committee and Humane Society International/Canada.