B.C. Wolf Management Plan 2014
The Grey Wolf (Canis lupus; hereafter wolf) was designated as Not at Risk by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) because it has a widespread, large population with no evidence of decline over the last 10 years. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species lists the status of the wolf as Least Concern and it is listed in Appendix II by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
In British Columbia (B.C.), the wolf is ranked S4 (apparently secure) by the Conservation Data Centre and is on the provincial Yellow list. The highest B.C. Conservation Framework rank for the wolf is a priority 3 under goal 1 (Contribute to global efforts for species and ecosystem conservation).
The wolf is common throughout much of B.C. and has recolonized areas in the south of the province from which it was extirpated by decades of bounties and poisoning. As one of B.C.’s top carnivores, wolves play an important role in structuring predator–prey systems, but they are also a threat to livestock and, in very rare cases, to human safety. The species attracts a highly polarized debate between those who see the wolves as emblematic of B.C.’s wilderness heritage and those who see them as a threat to game species and livestock. This plan presents an analysis of historical and current management, an updated range map and population estimate, and a proposed approach or managing wolves as an important component of B.C.’s predator–prey system, while minimizing conflicts with livestock production in a consistent, transparent, and effective manner.
Widespread poisoning and other control measures throughout the first half of the 20th century reduced the B.C. wolf population by the late 1950s, but several indicators suggest that the population and range of the species have increased since then. Direct census of wolves is infeasible over such a large area as B.C.; however, an estimate based on published wolf density and range estimates, as well as ungulate biomass estimates, suggests the current B.C. population is approximately 8,500 wolves (range 5,300 –11,600).
Trends in the wolf population are estimated primarily from changes in reported harvest, along with observational reports from Ministry staff, First Nations, stakeholders, and the general public. These indicators suggest that B.C.’s wolf population is currently stable to increasing throughout their range.
The following factors limit and/or regulate the distribution and abundance of wolves in B.C.: abundance and distribution of ungulate prey, human-caused mortality, space/intraspecific strife, and disease.
The threats assessment for this species indicates that hunting and trapping are considered the only measurable threats, and that these threats have a low impact on this species because of the wolf’s natural resilience, adaptability, and expanding population. There is currently no evidence that there are significant conservation concerns for wolves in B.C. The hunting and trapping of wolves in B.C. currently have a standing non-detriment finding (see Appendix 1). Management Plan for the Grey Wolf April 2014
The goal of wolf management in B.C. is to ensure a self-sustaining population throughout the species’ range and to ensure that, within the biological limits of the species, wolves are available in sufficient abundance to fulfill their ecological role, and to meet the cultural, recreational, and economic needs of society.
Further, the objectives of wolf management are:
- to ensure a self-sustaining population throughout the species’ range that fulfills the role of wolves as a top predator in B.C.’s diverse ecosystems;
- to provide opportunities for economic, cultural, and recreational uses of wolves consistent with Ministry program plans;
- to minimize impacts on livestock caused by wolves in a manner that does not jeopardize conservation objectives; and
- to manage specific packs or individuals where predation is likely preventing the recovery of wildlife populations threatened by wolf predation
Provincial policy supports the use of predator control2 to protect livestock and species at risk. Predator control to enhance ungulate populations for hunting is not supported by policy. Balancing the public interest where opinions are highly polarized is the challenge of managing wolves in B.C. Public consultation on this document resulted in more than 3,200 responses that spanned a wide range of perspectives. The plan was amended to address many recurring comments that were made through the consultation process.
The B.C. Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations and B.C. Ministry of Environment will consider the recommended objectives and management actions within this plan when developing new, or modifying existing, provincial policies, procedures, and regulations related to wolf management.