Province’s wolf management plan allows controlled ‘harvest’

The Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations recently released the Province’s wolf management plan.

The plan proposes a ‘two-zone management strategy’ approach.

In most areas, wolf management will be concerned with ensuring that wolves continue to serve their ecological role as a top predator.

Sustainable hunting and trapping opportunities will use controls on “harvest” through specified season lengths and bag limits. In areas of livestock depredation or wildlife populations threatened by wolf predation (e.g., mountain caribou) are a concern, the plan sees government “responsibly helping stakeholders, ranchers and First Nations manage the impacts of expanding wolf populations.”

The results of 2,500 comments submitted during consultation confirm there are “strongly differing beliefs and values on the management of wolf populations” the release said, adding that the consultation re-affirmed the importance that government make balanced decisions on the basis of sound science.

Here’s what the province said about B.C.’s wolf population.

Wolf populations are likely stable or increasing throughout the province and are not considered an ‘at-risk’ species. The current wolf population estimate is approximately 8,500, which is up about 5% of the 1991 estimate of 8,100 -but both numbers are estimates.

The wolf is a highly adaptive, intelligent carnivore that inhabits most of British Columbia. Most wolves weigh between 30 and 50 kg with coloration varying from nearly pure white to a mixture of grey, brown, black and white.

Wolves feed primarily on large ungulates, supplementing their diet with smaller prey.

The wolves next door Between their point-to-point baying and near-daily appearances on the streets and trails of the West Coast, wolves are a part of the landscape on Vancouver Island.

Numerous reports give residents plenty of reason to keep their dogs inside or on a leash at their side while out.

A very large, pale grey wolf was observed around 9 p.m. on a recent evening at the top of Forbes Road. It ran into the woods as a vehicle approached.

Within minutes, a tan wolf with dark-tipped fur was observed on the side of the road on Marine Drive past Black Rock Oceanfront Resort. That animal also headed into the woods with the approach of a vehicle.

The Vancouver Island wolf’s a sub-species of the mainland grey wolf.

Too-close sightings of wolves in Pacific Rim National Park Reserve had park officials concerned in January, worried that the wolves were headed down the path to habituation.

A pack of five wolves was first confirmed last November in the park on the West Coast of Vancouver Island. Nothing particularly surprising about that; another pack of three wolves has existed in the park near Tofino for up to two years.

Wolves that lose their fear can become a problem should they try to obtain food from humans. They may also become more vulnerable to being hit by motor vehicles or being shot once they step outside park boundaries.

Hunters are permitted to kill three wolves apiece during open seasons on Vancouver Island.

Observers who see wolves are urged to to keep moving and not to approach wolves for a better photograph, and to even shout, use a marine airhorn, or toss rocks should they approach. Motorists can also honk their horns if wolves are observed alongside the highway.

In Banff National Park in January, officials expressed concern that a cooked turkey carcass had deliberately been left by the roadside by someone hoping to getting a better photograph. The maximum fine for feeding wildlife is $25,000.

Research in Pacific Rim shows that wolves’ main prey is black-tailed deer, river otters, harbour seals and raccoons. But they are also known to take black bears, as well as mink, birds, sea lions and smaller marine life such as shore crabs and clams.

Trail cameras are being used to track movements of the packs within PRNPR.

Park officials and Conservation Office officials report West Coast residents don’t report wolf sightings as frequently as they occur. Public opinion tossed around on West Coast social media ranges from sympathy for the wolves, displaced by interloping humans, to others calling for them to be shot if they come into town because of threats to humans and pets.

Park visitors are urged to report wildlife sightings to 250-726-3500.

editor@westerlynews.ca