The Current

Wolf cull stirs clash of ethics, pitting conservation against animal welfare in B.C.

A controversial wolf cull under way in B.C. reveals a deep divide between conservation ethics and animal welfare ethics, and within the field of wildlife management.
The B.C. wolf population is estimated to have increased by a small number over 20 years, but in some areas, predation is becoming a problem. (Nathan Denette/Canadian Press)

Read story transcript

A controversial wolf cull is ongoing in B.C. as part of the provincial government's strategy to protect the endangered caribou population.

Last week, singer Miley Cyrus posted a profanity-laced tweet calling on her fans to sign a petition against the hunt.

The B.C. government is standing behind its program. But some conservation and wildlife experts also doubt a wolf cull is the best way to protect caribou.

The cull reveals a deep divide between conservation ethics and animal welfare ethics as well as a divide within the field of wildlife management.
British Columbia is aiming to increase the number of wolves it kills this winter in the second year of a plan to save endangered caribou. (Government of British Columbia handout/Canadian Press)
Miley Cyrus had some choice words for the wolf cull - some of which we aren't able to repeat on the air. (@MileyCyrus/Twitter)

When it comes to stories of animal welfare in Canada, you can bet passions will be high. But decisions about population control are also rarely straightforward. And as it turns out, the discipline of wildlife management itself is in a state of flux.

  • Tommy Knowles is the campaign director for the Wildlife Defence League in Vancouver, and has some specific concerns about this particular cull.
  • Nathan Parenteau is chief of the Salteaux First Nations in B.C., says the cull is necessary because wolves are taking away important food sources — moose and caribou — from his people. 
  • John Vucetich is an environmental biologist at Michigan Technological University. He's also lead researcher in Wolves and Moose of Isle Royale.
  • Stan Boutin is chair of Biodiversity Conservation at the University of Alberta. He also served as an expert reviewer for the B.C. wolf cull program.

This segment was produced by The Current's Pacinthe Mattar, Marc Appollonio and Rana Sowdaey.