Wildlife Mismanaged in B.C. Says Cariboo Rancher
Quesnel, B.C. – One Cariboo rancher says he is being thrown to the wolves when it comes to wildlife management in British Columbia.
Mike Gilson operates a ranch in the Gravelle Ferry area southeast of Quesnel and says wolf predation is taking its toll on his business.
“Last year the wolf predation of our cattle started around the middle of July,” he says. “When the grazing season was over and the cattle were back home the losses came in at 28 calves, 11 yearlings and three cows. The monetary loss of these cattle was roughly $65,000” with “no compensation.”
This year he says the predation started in June and notes four calves have been killed by wolves, 13 have been treated for wounds and at least another 15 cows have been seen that no longer have a calf.
Gilson considers the loss of three to six calves the cost of doing business but says his losses forced him to hire a private, professional, predator mitigation specialist.
He attributes the problem to wildlife mismanagement.
“Wolves and bears, with the help of man, have drastically reduced ungulate populations in recent years, forcing wolves to find alternative food sources, such as cattle,” says Gilson.
“When a pack of wolves is targeting cattle as prey the only way to end the predation is through removal of the entire pack. In recent years, due to being underfunded and lack of man power/ability to carry out the mitigation work, whole pack removal is rarely achieved.
“Instead what has happened in many instances is the removal of a small portion of the pack causing the breakup of the pack structure. The fragmented pack will then reassemble into two or three new groups of livestock eating wolves, compounding the problem.”
He says the solution is to deal with the wolves.
“The management of predators needs to be done by an organization made up of stakeholders. Government needs to be at the table but not solely running the show. Predator management decisions can not be based on the beliefs of the uneducated voter, as done in the past and therefore contributing to the mess we have today.”
250News contacted the Conservation Officer Service for reaction but were told they no longer investigate or mitigate wolf depredation on cattle or sheep. All such calls are no forwarded to the Livestock Predator Program run by the BC Cattlemen’s Association.
We reached general manager Kevin Boon who says the Cariboo is the hardest hit region in the province (other affected areas include the Peace, the north Okanagan and the Kootenays). He also sympathizes with Gilson’s concerns.
“Mike is quite right in his concerns. We certainly have to have a better system in place for wildlife management and part of that certainly comes with the wolf population,” he says.
“There is work being done by government to bring in multiple stakeholders to talk all aspects of wildlife management. Right now there are some programs that we do have available for producers if criteria are met to bring them in. Some producers are choosing to do their own.”
He says a lot of the issue comes down to the public wanting to see wolves and wanting to see wildlife.
“There has to be an understanding that there has to be a balance and right now it’s out of balance and it’s costing our livestock.”
Is a wolf cull the answer?
“I keep hearing culls but really it’s not a matter of culls, it’s a matter of bringing a balance in. A cull insinuates you’re going to wipe them out – nobody wants that. It’s a matter of getting them back into balance and how we do that.
“We have multiple stakeholders that are willing to manage these and want to manage them and it’s not just the understanding that the wolves are eating everything else – it’s making sure that you’re protecting the others as well.”
There are lots of issues raised in this article, directly and indirectly.
Should government pay for predator control so that ranchers can graze cattle on Crown range? What is government’s correct role?
Are wolf control programs effective or a temporary solution?
Is it realistic to turn cattle out on Crown range in late spring and expect them to graze all summer with only moderate losses to predators, in an area where there are not only wolves, but also cougars, black bears and the occasional grizzly? This model seems to work better in the dry belt country to the south, and not so well in the wet belt east of Quesnel.
“professional, predator mitigation specialist” .. you mean someone with a gun or traps? Does everything these days have to have a fancy title to make it sound more exotic or important than it really is?
This is ridiculous, raising cattle for free on crown land, and then expecting the government to supply a team of shepards to protect them. In the end, only pulling profit from it. Makes sense?
Agreed. I don’t want to pay for his ‘compensation’.
I guess it’s not your problem eh?
Someone else’s business is negatively affected, but you don’t care.
Ranchers grazing on Crown land do pay for the right to use the range. It is not free.
Wolves are a huge problem throughout Northern BC. The moose populations are way down and a lot of that is due to wolf kills. In an area that I frequent west of PG it is not un common to see 4 or 5 wolf kills of moose or deer in a 25 km round trip. I have even seen the wolves chase a moose across Cluculz Lake and kill it in front of cabins last winter. The wolves don’t even eat the whole carcass a lot of times. I guess if the wolves are not brought back down to a lower level nature will do so itself.
Anyone who disagrees with this must enjoy paying the price in the grocery store. This needs some attention sooner rather than later.
Pay for the right to use the land, then get it back at the end of the year with a near zero profit made on the book making
If you like wild life and you want to help save it . Then stop eating cattle and you won’t be helping to kill our wild wolves and other predators . It’s that simple .
Too many of these guys will accept a loss of $65,000 and not pay a guy to come clean out a pack of wolves for him.
It comes at a cost and a fraction of what they will lose if they don’t. Yup you might have to do if annually.
Wolves are part of the business, pay to deal with them or accept it for what it is.
It’s not the provinces job to deal with Wolves that eat meat just like its not their job to deal with moose etc that run in front of cars and compensate people for their vehicle losses or even life.
If you need a wolf trapper, shoot me a msg, I’ll clean out the whole pack for ya but it ain’t free. Many guys who can actually kill them all will but you need to ask and it costs money. Not $65,000 though!
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