British Columbia Joins War on Wolves


The dark shape stood watching us. Outlined against the golden stubble of the hayfield, he was the largest dog we had ever seen. He shifted his attention to our sheep. Studying him through the binoculars, we realized we were watching a wolf. The wolf was watching dinner.

When the wolf crossed an invisible barrier, our two Akbash guardian dogs exploded into action. The male placed himself between the wolf and the flock. The female ran in barking pursuit. Although the female was much smaller than the wolf, the wild canine turned and trotted off. None of our cattle-ranching neighbors had guardian dogs. Their calves were easier prey than our protected sheep.

Wolves are an essential part of the ecosystem. A research collaboration among 22 scientific and educational institutions in six countries “shows how the decline in large predators affects everything from habitat loss to pollution, deforestation, carbon sequestration, climate, the spread of disease, and more.”

Reporting on the research on his Supermarket Guru site, Phil Lempert cites two other examples of the impact of the loss of predators at the top of the food chain: “One case details how industrial whaling may have shifted the diet of killer whales, leading to the dramatic decline of sea lions, seals and sea otters. Another details how the loss of lions in Africa has led to a population explosion in olive baboons, which bring intestinal parasites to humans living nearby.”

BC Responding to Fears, Not Statistics

There is nothing pretty about finding the remains of a cow or sheep attacked by wolves. British Columbia livestock breeders are understandably concerned when their already slim margins are narrowed by predation. Ranchers say attacks are increasing. So do First Nations hunters, who say moose and caribou are falling prey to wolves. In Cariboo, the province’s primary cattle country, those groups welcome the decision to allow open season on wolves that stray too near livestock.

However, B.C. Ministry of Agriculture statistics provided to the Vancouver Sun point to an emotional decision not based on statistics. In 2010, “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.” To put that in perspective, those 78 deaths represent a tiny fraction, .052 percent, of the estimated 150,000 grazing on Crown Land.

Stephen Hume estimates 55 of the 78 deaths could be attributed to wolves. With approximately 525,000 cattle on B.C. farms and ranches (not just those on Crown Land), wolf-caused losses represent slightly over 0.01 percent, about half the number that die on the way to the slaughterhouse or are injured and have to be euthanized. Hume also cites a Canadian study of mortality in beef cattle that put disease as the top livestock killer, statistics similar to those found in the U.S.

He continues, “Meanwhile, a rancher from the Williams Lake area was charged following an SPCA investigation which found 40 of his cattle had starved to death and 130 were severely emaciated – that’s about 0.03 per cent of B.C.’s cattle herd.

“Unfair to blame all ranchers for the behaviour of one individual, ranchers reasonably argue. Exactly. And it’s equally unfair to blame wolves for livestock mortalities on the basis of unverified claims, anecdotal evidence and generalizations which arise from old prejudices.”

Wolves and the Ecosystem

Having seen what wolves can do to livestock, I understand the ranchers’ fears. Few city dwellers have had their bank accounts raided quite so graphically. White-collar greed is more ruthless but less bloody. So the issue of wolf kills deepens the urban/rural divide, with both sides accusing the other of ignorance.

However, the small numbers of cattle taken down by wolves are questionable justification for the province’s removing all hunting restrictions in Cariboo. We humans make a habit of condemning whatever inconveniences us. Rather than viewing the planet as one interconnected, living organism, we kill off the parts that have no immediate value to us.

The result is more than mass extinctions, environmental degradation and climate change. As we squander the gifts our planet offers so freely, we fail to see we are only one small part of the ecosystem and that our future depends on accepting our role as stewards rather than destroyers.

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Angela K.
Angela K.about a year ago


Animals deserve RESPECT and FREEDOM !!! ALL ANIMALS !!!

Kat K.
Kat K.2 years ago

STOP KILLING!!! Why do some people think they have to murder everything they come in contact with?? There are some mean, hateful, loathsome people in this old world, and they are the ones who need to be culled, not the precious animals who have had their habitats, food chain, etc taken from them at the hands of these subhuman beings, who would just as soon kill their own mothers if they got in their way. They make me sick!!!!

Duane B.
.2 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Terry V.
Terry V.3 years ago

We are MURDERING our planet, thus ourselves.

Nancy G Ellison
NANCY G Ellison3 years ago


Nancy G Ellison
NANCY G Ellison3 years ago


Vanessa Wolfe
Vanessa Wolfe3 years ago

This just sickens me, senseless cruelty, the arrogance and sense of entitlement of these ranchers. They are so consumed with hate, greed and predjudice they can't see the forest for the trees. There is now enough scientific data proving this apex predator is an absuolute necessity in the ecosystem. Educated and intellignet ranchers/farmers implement knowledge gained through these studies and are successful with no kill deterrent measures.
Make no mistake livestock is a commodity and there is no compassion here either.

Michael Horvath
Michael Horvath3 years ago

We as humans cause alot of grief in this world we are our worst enemy.If we keep building and destroying land these poor animals have nowhere to go.I am disabled and my family has to live on1200.dollars a month which is why i have to go hunting every year..I also share with other families in need if the animal is too big for us.I do not agree with senseless shooting of animals. Every animal plays a part in the eco system not to mention if we start killing all the animals it upsets the natural harmony of the entire system.Wolfs are very peaceful animals they are not like hollywood pro trays them .We do have to protect the cattle if you are a farmer but there are ways to do that without killing them .I see why many people get angry with guns and senseless killings of animals,these people are the ones that should be punished not the animal.Take care and have a grand day people think before you shoot.

richa blue akasha
Rich Blue3 years ago

senseless murder..stop encroaching upon wildlife habitats! Poor animals have nowhere to go :((

Cheryl H.
Cheryl Huxted3 years ago

lol colleen, ranchers are obviously lazy and uneducated, otherwise they would understand the concept of ecology. No, not all of course, but the large majority. If one rancher can come up with non lethal solutions to the problem, why can,t the rest? Is that not ignorance and laziness?