British Columbia

Limits on wolf hunting removed in large areas of Thompson region

The B.C. government has declared open season on wolves throughout much of the Thompson region and increased bag limits in much of the Kootenays.

However, decision on no-limit wolf hunting in Peace Region deferred

The B.C. government has removed some restrictions on wolf hunting in much of the Kootenays and the Thompson regions, but deferred a decision on removing limits on wolf hunting in the Peace Region. (photo credit:

The B.C. government has removed seasonal limits on wolf hunting through much of the Thompson region in the newest provincial hunting and trapping regulations, opening the door for year-round hunting.

The regulations, released June 13, also increased bag limits — the number of wolves that can be killed by each hunter in a season — in the Kootenays to three animals.

The areas of the Thompson where open season lasts year-round already have no bag limits.

"Evidence from hunters, trappers, guides, the Conservation Officer Service and observations of wolves by regional biologists suggest wolf populations continue to increase in size and distribution in most areas of the region," the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations wrote to CBC Vancouver explaining the move.

However, critics were skeptical.

"This is typical wildlife management by the B.C. provincial government favouring hunters and cattle producers over other stakeholders, including wildlife," said Chris Darimont, a University of Victoria professor of geography and member of the Raincoast Conservation Foundation.

Darimont believes the looser rules around wolf hunting are aimed at pleasing cattle producers in B.C. concerned about losses to wolves.

Darimont says if that's the case, the new regulations will probably not help much and might instead simply create a population of younger wolves.

"And those are precisely, as we know, the wolves ... that find themselves in trouble with cattle producers," he said. "This might even have a perverse, unintended consequence on conflict with agriculture."

The Ministry said those fears were unfounded.

"Most wolves fail to reach the age of five years old as they are vulnerable to starvation, disease, injuries from attempted predation events and competition from other wolf packs," a statement read. "However, wolves have biologically high reproductive output because they compensate for higher mortality."

While the province made changes in the Thompson and Kootenay regions it also delayed a decision on allowing unlimited wolf hunting in the Peace Region and won't triple the allowable numbers of grizzlies that can be killed in a remote portion of the Peace.

Both options were proposed, Nov. 30, 2015, on a government website that accepts public feedback on regulations and could have been implemented with the newest regulations.

The B.C. government has promoted killing wolves as a way to save endangered caribou herds, although critics have said the cull — which in 2015 was expected to last five years — ignores the true causes of the caribou decline: habitat destruction and human encroachment.

With files from Josh Pagé