si-bc-120130-wolves-snow-kill

Kootenay animal rights activists say the provincial government shouldn't kill wolves to protect the dwindling southern Purcel caribou herd. (Shelley Black/Blackwolf Photography)

Animal rights activists in the Kootenays are criticizing the provincial government for killing wolves to save a dying caribou herd. 

The Ministry of Forests plans to move 40 caribou from a healthy herd in the Dease Lake area, about 250km south of the B.C.-Yukon border. The animals will join the southern Purcell herd near Cranbrook.

Officials hope the transplanted caribou will boost the dwindling southern Purcell herd. Provincial biologists say there are just 15 caribou left in the area.

To ensure the transplanted caribou survive, the government will likely kill some of their natural predators — wolves and cougars.

Shelley Black, who runs the Northern Lights Wildlife Wolf Centre, says that's a terrible plan.

"Culling species to increase another, which our province seems to do quite regularly, is silly," said Black. "We are trying to make people aware the wolf isn't a threat to us it's a very important predator."

Black has started a petition to stop the wolf kill.

But even government biologists concede if the transplanted caribou have any chance at survival, some of their predators have to be destroyed.

With files from the CBC's Bob Keating