‘Verified’ livestock losses in decline as province adopts open-season policy on wolves

Exclusive By Larry Pynn, Vancouver Sun August 18, 2011

The B.C. government justifies an open-season policy on wolves in the Cariboo region by saying their numbers are at a historic high and they are having a “significant” impact on livestock.

But official government payments to ranchers for predator-killed livestock tell a different story, suggesting the problem is in fact getting better, not worse.

There were 78 verified livestock losses to predators on Crown land across the province last year – the lowest in four years – for which the government paid out $32,931 in compensation. The province estimates 150,000 cattle (cows, not including calves) graze on Crown range land across B.C.

Ministry of Agriculture statistics provided at The Vancouver Sun’s request show those compensation numbers were down from 93 verified losses in 2009-10 costing $38,292 in compensation, 98 losses in 2008-09 worth $33,440, and 84 verified losses in 2007-08 worth $33,425.

The province cannot accurately say how many predator-compensation claims came from the Cariboo, but estimates that at least 40 per cent of the payouts last year went to ranchers in that region, said Vivian Thomas, spokeswoman for the Ministry of Forests, Lands, and Natural Resource Operations.

Paul Paquet, an associate professor of environmental design and adjunct professor of biology at the University of Calgary (and senior scientist for Raincoast Conservation Foundation) who has studied wolves for 40 years in Asia, Europe and North America, including extensively on the B.C. coast, argued there is a vast discrepancy between government policy and solid information on wolves…

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