WARNING: The following story contains disturbing images.
Environmentalists are calling on the B.C. government to intervene after learning of at least three Interior hunting groups promoting contests for killing various predators.
An open letter signed by 47 members of pro-animal groups — as well as another letter from Bears Matter dated March 2 — has been sent to Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources Doug Donaldson, demanding the end to all “wildlife-killing contests” across the province.
The letters argue the contests violate the province’s wildlife and hunting guidelines while turning trophy hunting in a “bloodsport.”
“These killing contests flout sportsmanship ethics and outdoor traditions and instead glorify killing and violence and send a dangerous message to younger generations of hunters, who are often encouraged to participate in these events,” the letter from Bears Matter reads.
“To allow this kind of ‘contest,’ where wildlife are killed for no reason except to win a prize, goes beyond the pale,” the other letter reads.
WATCH: Coverage of B.C. hunting issues on Globalnews.ca
One event being held in Williams Lake by Chilcotin Guns is being dubbed a “wolf-whacking” contest. The event began on Dec. 1 and ends on March 31. For $20, contestants compete in teams of one to four to see who can kill the most wolves by the deadline.
Another one in Yahk, B.C., sponsored by Creston Valley Rod and Gun Club has a point system for killing different animals: three points for cougars or wolves, two for coyotes and one for racoons. The “predator tournament” runs from March 16 to 24 and offers cash prizes for the top three contestants.
The third event cited in the letters comes from the West Kootenay Outdoorsmen, which is advertising a prize of $500 “for each wolf killed.” Club members are also being allowed to keep the pelts, which are reportedly worth up to $200 on the open market.
Hunters associated with the three groups who spoke with Global News said the contests are a fun way to deal with the growing predator population in the Interior, which they say is threatening other animals.
DISTURBING IMAGES: Photos submitted by environmental groups show hunters posing with predators they killed during wildlife killing contests.
But the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources said in a statement that it believes the wolf population is “healthy and self-sustaining throughout the province.”
It also said the ministry doesn’t condone or encourage wildlife-killing contests but noted there are no rules that prevent them from being held so long as hunters are properly licensed and follow the laws.
“The province manages wildlife populations on the principle of conservation first, followed by First Nations’ rights,” the statement read. “Only then is licensed hunting allowed.”
Charlotte Dawe of the Wilderness Committee, one of the groups that signed the open letter, says she doesn’t buy the argument that the contests are for population control.
“They’re killing for the sport of it,” she said. “To believe that this is an unbiased, science-based predator removal program is just, it’s not true.”
—With files from Paul Johnson