Outrage over B.C. helicopter company used to collar Banff wolves

Parks Canada's decision to hire a contentious British Columbia helicopter company to help collar wolves with GPS trackers in Banff has sparked online outrage.

Parks Canada picks controversial helicopter company to help with wolf collaring

The B.C. government will kill almost 200 grey wolves this winter using sharpshooters in helicopters. (Chris Corday/CBC)

Parks Canada's decision to hire a contentious British Columbia helicopter company to help collar wolves with GPS trackers in Banff has sparked online outrage.

"They were hoping to slip this one under the rug," says wildlife photographer John Marriott.

Parks Canada hired Bighorn Helicopter to help collar wolves.

The Cranbrook-based private company helped with BC's controversial wolf cull earlier this year.

The company specializes in capturing wolves.

Online reaction

But Marriot — and many others online — are outraged by Bighorn Helicopter's involvement with efforts to track five wolves from three packs.

The Canmore man's Facebook post decrying Park's Canada's use of the company has received thousands of likes.

"Parks Canada needs to be leading the way and making ethical decisions like this when it comes to the management of their wolves and their wildlife," said Marriott from his cell phone, while travelling in the mountains.

Parks Canada defends its decision

In an e-mail statement to CBC News, the federal service says the company was chosen through a competitive contracting process.

Bighorn helicopters, the statement says, has the "specialised skills required to enable Parks Canada to successfully capture and collar wolves."

"The purpose of this collaring is to protect wolves and reduce wildlife mortality in the park."

John Marriott rejects Parks Canada's justification, saying Bighorn Helicopters "may be the best in the business — but that doesn't mean you sell their soul to them."

Bighorn Helicopters did not respond to CBC News' request for an interview. 

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