Wolves have a place in wildlife balance but often cause problems for ranchers.

Wolves have a place in wildlife balance but often cause problems for ranchers.

Wolf predation a serious problem for ranchers

Predation by wolves continues to be the biggest cause of cattle losses in the Cariboo-Chilcotin, B.C. Cattlemen’s Association says.

Predation by wolves continues to be the biggest cause of cattle losses in the Cariboo-Chilcotin, according to Kevin Boon, general manager of the B.C. Cattlemen’s Association which represents about 1,150 producers throughout the province.

“In that area it is our leading cause of death and cost to our producers,” Boon said during an interview for Cattle Country.

In some cases ranchers are seeing a 10 to 15 per cent loss of their calf crop to wolf predation in a year, Boon noted, adding he knows ranchers in the Big Creek area that have lost close to $50,000 due to cattle loss. Theirs are not big operations and would be in the 200 head range, he added.

He described the existing compensation program available for ranchers as a drop in the bucket.

“In order for us to get compensation we have to verify a kill and and the type of predator that did the kill,” Boon explained, noting often it’s difficult to find remains, because of the large areas of land the cattle are using.

“If a pack of wolves kill a calf it’s gone overnight,” he said. “They pretty well eat everything and scatter the bones so it’s hard to confirm what we suspect it is.”

Boon estimated that less than five per cent of kills are actually verified.

Dealing with predation is a top priority for the association and one of the most difficult things to obtain constructive results from.

Back in 2003, the association started a program where it hired contractors to remove the offending wolf or pack after a kill was verified.

When the funding ran out five years later, they started another program that “mirrored” the first one, but funding again dried up in 2011.

“At that point the government turned it over to the Conservation Officer Service to look after, removing some of these wolves or predators, because we do have issues with bears and cougars as well,” Boon said.

The government implemented a predator control co-ordinator for the province. “It’s been run by one of your local conservation officers Darryl Ashworth for the last few years and he’s done an exemplary job. One of the things he’s done is be a liaison between the ranching community and the CO services,” Boon said.  “He created predator conflict committees to discuss issues in specific areas and ways to approach the problems.”

The committees also co-ordinate training for ranchers on how to trap and how to verify a kill.

“He’s trained over 600 ranchers to be able to do the verification process themselves and it’s worked very well,” Boon added of Ashworth’s efforts, saying both sides have benefited because the COS is strapped for resources as are ranchers.

The association has also encouraged trappers to remove more wolves, gaining some limited success.

“It’s not necessarily targeting the wolves, but it is targeting areas where there are high populations,” he said of the trapping program. “It has helped, but at the end of the day the amount of wolves being removed is far less than what the birth rates are.”

Wolves continue to expand their territories and with the effects of the mountain pine beetle opening up more areas for harvesting of timber, wolves have the ability to travel farther and quicker.

Ranchers aren’t out there to kill all the wolves, but want to bring a balance back and are hoping the government’s Grey Wolf Management Plan can be put in place in the region.

“In the programs we run we’re very targeted so if the wolves aren’t bothering us we leave them alone because for the most part if they aren’t killing our cattle they are keeping the wolves that would out because they are very territorial,” Boon said.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

This Dec. 2, 2020, file photo provided by Johnson & Johnson shows vials of the COVID-19 vaccine in the United States. (Johnson & Johnson via AP)
Interior Health notes 80 new COVID-19 cases over the weekend

108 people in the region have died from the virus

The Fraser River is seen west of Williams Lake from Doc English Bluff Ecological Reserve. (Rebecca Dyok photo)
Tsilhqot’in National Government appeals Gibraltar Mines’ permit to discharge into Fraser River

Permit amendments fail to adequately protect the environment and human health, says TNG

The Horsefly Community Hall will be the site of a mobile vaccine clinic March 19, 2021. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Six COVID-19 vaccine clinics to open in Cariboo Chilcotin

100 Mile, Alexis Creek, Big Lake, Horsefly, Williams Lake and Tatla Lake

A Williams Lake area family living on Knife Creek Road lost everything to a house fire on Wednesday, March 3. (Photo submitted)
House fire destroys rural family home south of Williams Lake

The Macdonalds built their home on Knife Creek Road about 30 years ago

A special committee has been appointed to look at reforming B.C.’s police act and is inviting the public to make submissions until April 30, 2021. (Black Press media file)
Public input sought for B.C.’s police act review

Submissions will be accepted until April 30

(The Canadian Press)
‘Worse than Sept. 11, SARS and financial crisis combined’: Tourism industry in crisis

Travel services saw the biggest drop in active businesses with 31 per cent fewer firms operating

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Montreal Canadiens right wing Paul Byron (41) fights for control of the puck with Vancouver Canucks defenceman Quinn Hughes (43) during first period NHL action in Vancouver, Monday, March 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Captain Clutch: Horvat nets shootout winner as Canucks edge Habs 2-1

Vancouver, Montreal tangle again on Wednesday

Cottonwoods Care Home in Kelowna. (Google Maps)
New COVID-19 outbreak at Kelowna care home includes fully vaccinated seniors: Henry

Two staff and 10 residents tested positive at Cottonwoods Care Centre

Excerpts from a conversation between Bria Fisher and the fake truLOCAL job. Fisher had signed a job agreement and was prepared to start work for what she thought was truLOCAL before she learned it was a scam. (Contributed)
B.C. woman warning others after losing $3,000 in job scam

Bria Fisher was hired by what she thought was a Canadian company, only to be out thousands

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix provide a regular update on the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, March 2, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 cases: 545 Saturday, 532 Sunday, 385 Monday

Focus on Prince Rupert, Lower Mainland large workplaces

Rising accident rates and payout costs have contributed to billion-dollar deficits at ICBC. (Comox Valley Record)
B.C. appealing decision keeping ICBC injury cases in court

David Eby vows to ‘clip wings’ of personal injury lawyers

(Black Press Media files)
Hosts charged, attendees facing COVID fines after Vancouver police bust party at condo

Police had previously received 10 complaints about that condo

Most Read