Wolf removal activities to help save endangered caribou herds in the South Selkirk Mountains and South Peace have concluded for the second year of the five-year wolf removal project.
In the South Selkirks, nine wolves were removed. It is estimated that there are another four to six wolves in the area, but none of these wolves have been radio collared to track their movements. Approximately 108,000 hectares of core caribou habitat in the area has been protected from logging and roadbuilding.
In the South Peace, 154 wolves were removed. It is estimated that there are another 25 wolves in the area. Under the Peace Northern Caribou Plan, government’s goal is to protect 498,000 hectare of high-elevation winter range caribou habitat.
Both the South Selkirk and South Peace herds have experienced significant losses to wolf predation. The South Selkirk herd numbered 46 caribou in 2009 declining to 12 in the most recent survey conducted in March 2016. This is a loss of six caribou since the 2014 census.
In the four caribou herds in the South Peace (Quintette, Moberly, Scott and Kennedy-Siding), populations are also decreasing and wolves are a key factor. At least 37 per cent of all adult mortalities have been documented as wolf predation.
Hunting and trapping of wolves has not effectively reduced populations and may even split up packs and increase predation rates on caribou. Habitat recovery continues to be an important part of caribou recovery, but cannot address the critical needs of these herds in the short term.