British Columbia·Updated

Wolf cull will see animals shot from helicopter to save B.C. caribou

Up to 184 wolves in British Columbia will be shot from helicopters in order to save dwindling caribou herds in the region.

Government says immediate action is needed to save threatened herds

The B.C. government has ordered a cull of wolves in order to save threatened caribou herds. (Associated Press)

Up to 184 wolves in British Columbia will be culled as part of an "immediate action" ordered by the provincial government to save dwindling caribou herds.

The wolves will be shot from helicopters in the South Selkirk Mountains and the South Peace.

According to the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources, the South Selkirk caribou herd is in danger of extinction, with a population that has declined from 46 in 2009, to just 18 as of last March.

The ministry says two of the remaining herd have been killed by wolves in the past two months, and that up to 24 of the predators will be culled before snow melts.

The four caribou herds across the South Peace have also seen decreasing populations. Wolves caused at least 37 per cent of adult deaths, according to the ministry.

Up to 160 wolves in the region are expected to be shot from helicopters, a method the ministry hopes will be effective where hunting and trapping has failed.

The cull will be made in partnership with Treaty 8 First Nations, and the operational plans have been fully peer-reviewed, the ministry said.

The government's wolf management plan for the province was attacked by conservation groups when it was released last April.

'Horrific day'

Ian McAllister, conservation director for Pacific Wild, condemned announcement of the cull, saying he was appalled.

"You know, the true issue surrounding endangered caribou is their habitat," he told CBC News.

"While the government is not moving forward to protect adequate amounts of habitat to save the caribou, they're instead using wolves as a scapegoat and planning just a horrific level of aerial killing in the coming months. This is truly a war on wolves in British Columbia," he said.

Calling the plan a "taxpayer-funded kill program of one of our most iconic species", McAllister said it marked a "horrific day" for wolves in British Columbia.

"When will this government learn that killing wolves will not bring endangered caribou back in the absence of habitat protection?"

With files from Rafferty Baker