Victoria, B.C. (June 30, 2022) – Pacific Wild (a CRA registered charity operating in BC) has lost its bid to stop the wolf cull in BC but gained standing before the courts on behalf of wolves.
The wolf cull, which commenced in 2015, has shot and killed more than 1,400 wolves through aerial gunning. Much of the shooting has been conducted by civilian contractors using high-powered semi-automatic rifles. As of now, this is being allowed to continue so long as they receive their federal permits.
“It is a bittersweet outcome” said Rebeka Breder, Counsel for Pacific Wild “over 1400 wolves have been ruthlessly and unnecessarily killed by the BC government sponsored kill program over the last six years, and if this government has its way it will continue for decades to come…
On June 1, 2022, the Supreme Court of British Columbia confirmed that wolves subjected to provincial killing programs have a voice before the courts.
As a result, the court gave standing to Pacific Wild to argue for wolves and against the province’s kill program.
Since 1986, this is only the second time the provincial wolf cull has been subjected to judicial review by the provincial court, with an unprecedented four days of court time.
“This is hailed as a huge win for environmental advocates” continued Breder “We are pleased the judge refused to deny Pacific Wild standing and supported our legitimate ability to speak on behalf of wolves. We gave wolves a voice they desperately needed and deserved in court, and we hope this helps other organizations hold the government accountable in court in future cases.”
In July 2020, Pacific Wild argued before the court that the province’s wolf cull program was allowing civilians to shoot wolves from commercial aircraft and thus violated certain aviation security regulations in Canada. Pacific Wild also argued that the regulations did not provide the discretion to government officials to issue permits to kill wolves by air. The killing of wolves by air was therefore unlawful.
The court confirmed that the province cull cannot take place lawfully without the federal aviation security exemptions. The legality of these new exemptions issued at the request of the province has never been challenged in court.
Said Karen McAllister, Executive Director of Pacific Wild “The province’s war on wolves has been ongoing for many years. Since at least 2015 we argued the province had not acquired the needed federal aviation security exemptions allowing its shooters to board commercial aircraft for the killings”.
This then changed during the lawsuit.
In response to the legal challenge and lack of federal permits, the government of BC changed its regulations relating to the wolf cull, while the matter was before the courts. A tactic that is often considered power disproportional and underhanded.
In an unprecedented move, while in the midst of litigation and having changed its own regulations, the province also appealed to its federal counterparts to issue the missing exemption permits for certain contract civilian individuals and agencies (whose names have been withheld) and thereby save the day.
The federal government subsequently acquiesced to the provincial demands and issued the additional missing permits.
The Court recognized that the government only changed its regulations and obtained the necessary federal exemptions for the cull during this litigation and only after Pacific Wild filed this judicial review.
“What this shows is that the government knew Pacific Wild was correct and at the time of filing the judicial review, the wolf cull was operating unlawfully”, says Rebeka Breder.
“Although we are disappointed with the court’s decision about the legality of the wolf cull, we are also pleased that this case confirmed Pacific Wild’s standing in this case. We gave wolves a voice they desperately needed and deserved in court, and we hope this helps other organizations hold the government accountable in court in future cases”, says Breder.
McAllister stressed that, “We now call on all our members and members of the public to write their MPs and demand that the issuance of federal aviation security permits for the sole purpose of killing wolves be ceased immediately. It is unethical, questionably legal, and not achieving the desired results. It is not necessary.”
Only you can stop this. Write your MP today.
Rebeka Breder, Counsel for Pacific Wild: 604.449.0215, firstname.lastname@example.org
Kirsten Mihailides, KMPR: 604.618.3572, email@example.com