Wolf management plan released

The plan fully recognizes that the fundamental goal of wolf management in British Columbia

The Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations released the Province’s wolf management plan on April 17.

The plan fully recognizes that the fundamental goal of wolf management in British Columbia, as with all other provincial game species, is to maintain self-sustaining populations throughout the species’ range. The plan proposes a ‘two-zone management strategy’ approach:

* In most areas, wolf management will be concerned with ensuring that wolves continue to serve their ecological role as a top predator. Sustainable hunting and trapping opportunities will use controls on harvest through specified season lengths and bag limits.

* In areas of livestock depredation or wildlife populations threatened by wolf predation (e.g., mountain caribou) are a concern, the plan commits government to responsibly helping stakeholders, ranchers and First Nations manage the impacts of expanding wolf populations. In these areas, detailed implementation plans would be developed before any actions are undertaken.

The plan previously underwent a public consultation and over 2,500 comments were received. All submissions were carefully reviewed and helped inform and improve the final plan.

The results of the consultation confirm there are strongly differing beliefs and values on the management of wolf populations and re-affirmed the importance that government make balanced decisions on the basis of sound science.

The wolf management plan, like other species management plans, summarizes the best available scientific information on the biology and threats to the species and informs the development of a management framework.

It sets goals and objectives, and recommends approaches appropriate for species or ecosystem conservation. The plan indicates wolf populations are likely stable or increasing throughout the province and are not considered an ‘at-risk’ species.

The current wolf population estimate is approximately 8,500 which is similar to an earlier estimate of 8,100 in 1991. The last wolf management plan was prepared in 1979, and the new plan provides a substantive update in the science guiding the conservation and management of wolves.

The B.C. government is committed to ensuring sustainable wildlife populations and healthy predator-prey relationships throughout the province. The government is also committed to helping stakeholders, ranchers and First Nations manage the impacts of wolves on livestock and protecting endangered species.

The wolf is a highly adaptive, intelligent carnivore that inhabits most of British Columbia. Most wolves weigh between 30 and 50 kg with coloration varying from nearly pure white to a mixture of grey, brown, black and white.

Wolves feed primarily on large ungulates, supplementing their diet with smaller prey.

Wolf populations in the Thompson, Cariboo, Kootenay and Okanagan regions appear to be increasing while other populations appear to be stable.

To view a copy of the wolf management plan, visit: http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/fw/wildlife/management-issues/docs/grey_wolf_management_plan.pdf