Animal rights groups in B.C. say they are alarmed at what they say is a government scheme to quietly resume slaughtering the province's wolves.

In a draft management plan released this week, the government says there is a stable population of about 8,500 grey wolves in B.C.

To keep packs from growing too much, hunters are allowed to kill wolves with little restriction. The government also hires contractors to eradicate wolves where they are found to be killing livestock or endangered caribou.

About 1,300 wolves are killed in B.C. every year.

Shelley Black, of the Northern Lights Wildlife Wolf Centre, in Golden, B.C., says the plan is barbaric.

"They are targeting the big bad wolf because this is, like, the icon that everybody recognizes," Black said.

Ian McAllister, of Pacific Wild, said he wants the public to know what’s going on.

"I think most British Columbians wouldn't support a plan of this nature," McAllister said.

"The B.C. government is wanting to even relax and liberalize the kill regulations even further. It's alarming. We see it as a wolf kill program, not a wolf management program."

The public has until Dec. 5 to comment on the management plan. 

With files from the CBC's Bob Keating