The new bag limit for hunting wolves is three when it opens in September, as the province endeavours to reduce the number of wolves in the region in an attempt to ease pressure on, and resuscitate, the endangered mountain caribou herds.
In the previous version of the Hunting and Trapping Regulations Synopsis the bag limit for wolves in most parts of the Kootenay region was two, with no bag limit in some regions from Sept. 1 to June 15.
But with the mountain caribou listed as an endangered species — and its legal status federally — the province is required by law to act, and the 2016-18 Hunting and Trapping Regulations Synopsis reflected that.
The wolf has been fingered as the main hurdle to the caribou’s survival, even though research has shown habitat loss and human encroachment are greater factors in the herd’s decrease.
Being in the cross hairs is not an unusual scenario for the four-legged predator in the last few years. In January of 2015 a government planned wolf cull began in the South Selkirks — bounded by Ymir, Salmo, Kootenay Lake and Creston — to help the beleaguered mountain caribou, of which only 18 remain in the local region.
The South Selkirk is a trans-boundary herd, and caribou move freely between B.C., Washington and Idaho, but research has shown the herd has declined from 46 caribou in 2009 to 18 in 2015, with some evidence indicating predation by wolves a cause of mortality.
In February 2016 Resource Operations Ministry moved the wolf cull from the Selkirks region to the northeast’s South Peace region. Current wolf-kill figures are not available even though both hunts are complete. The province planned to shoot 200 wolves in the second year of its five-year.
To date there has been no follow up report of the performance to see how the caribou are responding.
This week the province released the 2016-18 Hunting and Trapping Regulations Synopsis, detailing the most up-to-date rules and regulations for hunters throughout British Columbia, including information for Region 4, which includes the West Kootenay.
The synopsis includes a total of 85 regulatory changes — five in total for the West Kootenay — aimed at conserving wildlife and their habitats, enhancing the quality of data collected, protecting at-risk species and livestock.
The province updates the synopsis every two years in response to the most current scientific information about wildlife populations and sustainable use, with this year’s version containing an increased bag limit for wolves.