Hunters in the B.C. Interior say they’re being unfairly portrayed by both environmentalists calling for an end to wildlife killing contests and the media that covers them.
In a video published to YouTube Wednesday, a man representing the website HowtoHunt.com called out Global News specifically for coverage of the controversy, saying reporters and environmentalists don’t understand what’s going on north of the Lower Mainland.
“Global BC News, shame on you,” the hunter says in the video, which is titled, “I Killed 200 Wolves.”
“Because of the habitat that you have annihilated and because of the extra predators that you are trying to save, it is all adding up to the decimation of numerous species,” he said.
The complaints came in response to coverage of two letters sent to the B.C. government calling for a ban on the contests, one of which was signed by 47 environmental and animal rights groups.
The hunter, who declined an interview with Global News, isn’t alone in his complaints. Beyond the over 200 comments the video has received so far in support, other hunters have responded to the story saying the contests are a way to manage the predator population in general, and wolves in particular.
WATCH: (Aired March 10) Environmentalists sound the alarm over so-called ‘wolf-whacking’ contests
The community says the decimation of the caribou habitat has brought the animals into closer contact with wolves, which are killing the caribou at an escalating rate.
Holding contests that offer rewards and points for killing wolves and other predators, which at least three gun and hunting clubs in the Interior are currently advertising, helps balance the populations out again, these hunters say.
“Now we are left to having to fix this problem ourselves,” the hunter in the YouTube video says.
“Thankfully … there are still at least a couple true rod and gun clubs left in this province and other states and provinces who care enough to go out of the way, to put themselves out there and encourage people to come out and make a difference and get a grip on this overpopulation of predators.”
But Alan Martin with the British Columbia Wildlife Federation said holding killing contests as a way to manage wildlife populations is the wrong approach.
“If you’re going to do predator control, it should be to achieve specific, measurable objectives,” Martin said. “They need to be properly done and scientifically monitored and evaluated. Those contests don’t meet any of those tests, and I think they may do more harm than good.”
In an earlier statement to Global News, Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources Doug Donaldson said the wolf population in B.C. is “healthy and self-sustaining throughout the province,” and that there are no rules against holding such contests despite the ministry not condoning them.
The ministry did not comment on the current caribou population, although the animal is listed as an endangered species. Four herds vanished between 2004 and 2018.
But another hunter, Pat Haggarty, told Global News the amount of wolf packs in central B.C. is “astonishing.”
“When I talked with local trappers they claim the saw a pack of 50 wolves,” he said in an email. “Actually seeing wolves in the wild during the day is not a regular occurrence.”
Haggarty added he imagines tens of thousands of hunters in B.C. would sign a petition to keep the contests going, in response to the open letter signed by environmentalists calling for their ban.
The debate has also made its way into the academic realm.
One study released Monday and authored by a biologist from the University of Alberta says the only way to reverse the decline in caribou is to kill more wolves as well as moose, and to pen pregnant cows. That study only showed the effects of government-run wildlife management programs, however.
WATCH: Coverage of B.C. hunting issues on Globalnews.ca
But another study released by an independent biologist within days of the first one argues caribou simply need to be kept away from wolves without killing the predators by making it harder for wolves to use forestry roads to access habitats.
The authors have questioned each others’ findings and argue they can be used by hunters and environmentalists alike for their own means.
—With files from Paul Johnson and the Canadian Press