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Animal conservation group trying to save Vancouver Island wolves

File photo. An environmentalist group is trying to drum up petition signatures to stop the Ministry of Forests from extending wolf trapping season on Vancouver Island by two months.
File photo. An environmentalist group is trying to drum up petition signatures to stop the Ministry of Forests from extending wolf trapping season on Vancouver Island by two months.

Conservation group ‘Pacific Wild’ has launched a petition in an effort to save wolves on Vancouver Island, and hope enough people will sign before Saturday.

The group is putting the word out because the Ministry of Forests has proposed extending wolf trapping to increase the elk population.

According to the Ministry, the proposal is to extend the trapping season by two months: Sept. 10 through to June 30, because the wolf population has risen while the elk population remains too small and isn’t showing any signs of growing.

Pacific Wild Executive Director Ian McAllister said if the proposal goes through, those traps could kill pups and pregnant wolves.

READ MORE: Critics of B.C. wolf cull take fight to court

McAllister added West Coast wolves are globally unique because they survive off of marine life.

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“They’re also morphologically unique, slightly smaller than wolves on the rest of the continent and they’re certainly behaviourally distinct because of their reliance on the ocean. So these are rare wolves that should be protected and the BC government unfortunately is going in the opposite direction and allowing them to be hunted, trapped, and killed in extremely inhumane ways.”

He said he hopes enough people will make their voices heard either on the SaveBCWolves petition or on the government’s website.

“It’s very much a knee-jerk reaction to a few people, you know, who have said that wolves are preying on too many deer. There’s absolutely no data or field-based research,” he claimed, “There’s no peer-reviewed science to support this.”

In a statement, the Ministry of Forests said, “[t]here appears to be a correlation between the areas with increased wolf signs and decreased ungulate populations.” It did admit that although there are scientific inventories to monitor deer and elk populations, there have not been scientific surveys for monitoring wolves in the area.

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It currently estimates there are around 250 wolves on Vancouver Island and rising.

The Ministry said no wolves were trapped between 2016 and 2017 because of significant snowfall and freezing temperatures that winter. It added that in the previous five years, an average of 7 wolves were trapped in the entire Vancouver Island region per fiscal year.

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All trappers and hunters that harvest wolves are required to report it to the Province, and trapping will mostly happen on northern and central Vancouver Island.

Feedback submissions to the B.C. Government will close midnight Dec. 19, and the Ministry said all comments will be considered before any decision is made.