Letter in Science states that Canada’s wolf cull subsidizes industry

British Columbia must reevaluate its caribou habitat protection policies and do better by its environment and its citizens, argues Raincoast scientists.

Wolf control, often presented as a ‘solution’ to stabilize caribou populations, ultimately allows continued approval by governments of resource exploitation, including logging in habitats deemed “critical” to caribou. That’s the central message of a new letter in Science, published by Raincoast scientists.

The letter was inspired by an article published in the CBC in December 2023, which revealed that BC’s controversial wolf cull has resulted in at least 1944 wolves shot and killed from helicopters. The government program, designed to keep 13 mountain caribou herds from going extinct, began in 2015 and has direct costs of more than $10 million. 

The letter points out that, although there is some evidence in the short term that the wolf cull has helped one population of mountain caribou, the evidence for the wolf cull being a long term solution for all caribou herds is weak and uncertain.

The letter goes on to suggest that the wolf cull is basically another form of industrial subsidy. Taxpayers are footing a hefty bill. Wolves and ecosystems are paying the price. 

The letter is calling for the province to reevaluate its caribou habitat protection policies and do better by its environment and its citizens.

Authors and affiliations

Chris T. Darimont and Paul C. Paquet
Department of Geography, University of Victoria, Victoria, BC V8W 2Y2, Canada.
Raincoast Conservation Foundation, PO Box 2429, Sidney, BC V8L 3Y3, Canada.

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Research scientist, Adam Warner conducting genetics research in our genetics lab.
Photo by Alex Harris / Raincoast Conservation Foundation.