Recount of B.C. wolf hunt has critics questioning 'fair chase' policy Americans used snowmobiles to chase B.C. wolves for hunt

Larry Pynn, Postmedia News

Published Vancouver Sun: Tuesday, July 27, 2010

VANCOUVER - When it comes to wolf-hunting, B.C.'s Environment Minister Barry
Penner says the province is home to the "fair chase." But the use of bait
and high-powered snowmobiles to target a wolf pack during a guided trophy
hunt on an ice-covered lake in northern B.C. earlier this year is now
raising questions about that assertion.

In February, a trophy-hunting couple associated with the Dallas Safari Club
in Texas made their way to Williston Lake reservoir - west of Fort St. John
and about 1,000 kilometres northwest of Vancouver - to hunt wolves with
Dennis Beattie's Wicked River Outfitters.

Writing about the hunt in the club's May issue of Camp Talk, Eddie and Lynne
Hopkins say they started their hunt after breakfast with a guide identified
as Steve Fiarchuck, and their detailed descriptions are calling into
question how fair chase is interpreted.

"Steve had a bait pile that he wanted to check about a mile from the lodge,"
they wrote, explaining that the site had fresh tracks and wolves could be
spotted on the lake about five kilometres away. The guide told Eddie Hopkins
to jump on board his snowmobile and they sped off, leaving his partner
behind.

"I never dreamed you could go so fast on a snow machine," Hopkins wrote,
estimating top speeds of 140 to 150 km/h. "As we flew down the lake, Steve
explained that we had to get to the wolves before they got to shore. We were
fortunate to get to the seven-member wolf pack and turn them towards the
center of the lake.

"As the pack headed out across the lake, they went in various directions.
Steve shouted, 'What colour do you want?' I said, 'Black' and he headed
towards a big black wolf."

Hopkins killed the wolf on the third shot after the snowmobile came "within
10 yards" of the animal.

"Steve instantly said, 'Get back on and let's try and get another one.'
Steve got us up beside a huge male gray wolf and I redeemed myself by making
a quick kill with one well-placed shot."

The article added: "During the course of the week, we killed five wolves,
two coyotes and took a bunch of animals from the trapline . . . If you have
never experienced British Columbia in the winter, you owe it to yourself to
go."

Conservationists were aghast.

"It's horrific, in the context of a family of wolves," commented Ian
McAllister of Pacific Wild, a group that works extensively with wolves on
the B.C. coast. "That's how they're treated.

"If that's legal, it's that much more appalling."

"Most British Columbians would be as sickened as I am by this so-called
'sport,' added Joe Foy, of the Western Canada Wilderness Committee. "That
article was some kind of sick eco-porn for those that like to hurt living
creatures for the fun of it."

Penner refused to comment about the article, saying the hunt is under
investigation by the Conservation Officer Service.

Beattie said in a phone interview that the hunt was perfectly legal, despite
a Wildlife Act prohibition against the use of a "motor vehicle or other
mechanical device to herd or harass wildlife."

He insisted the guide was simply using the snowmobile to prevent the wolves
from running off the lake and was not herding or chasing them.
"On this hunt, they were cut off from going to the bank (shore), you drive
between them and the bank, and then you do your hunting," he said. "They're
not chasing these animals. That's totally against the law and it's against
our rules of ethics."

Beattie, who is also head of the Northern B.C. Guides Association, said the
hunter got off the snowmobile before shooting, as required by law.
He cut the interview short by saying, "Don't bother me any more."

The Wicked River Outfitters' website states: "We'll do everything we can,
within the law and fair chase, to see that you get your game."
It encourages clients to pay $53.50 to the province for a wolf tag so they
can hunt the animals. Beattie charges more than $4,000 U.S. for a week of
wolf-hunting.


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