Natural Art: The Photography of Brad Hill


Advocacy & Action: It Takes Effort to Make a Better World!

Environmental and conservation issues I'm actively engaged in. And how you can join in and take action to right some very wrong things. Just because we've being doing the wrong thing for a very long time doesn't make it right...

1. Taking Action Against BC's Regressive "New" Wolf Killing Plan

Date: 31 July, 2014

British Columbia's wolves are being managed as vermin and the "new" Grey Wolf Management plan of 2014 is little more than a flawed attempt to justify aggressive proactive wolf control...

This is a call to action - and a personal plea - to anyone who cares about the welfare or conservation of wolves. If you've enjoyed the efforts I've put in to creating and maintaining this advertisement-free nature photography website for any reason, please consider paying me back by adding your voice to this call for action against BC's regressive wolf "management" plan. I'm not asking for any money - just a little effort. The wolves of BC NEED a lot of letters to be written. Thanks in advance.

In a recent article in the Tyee, Gary Allan and I compared BC's "old" wolf management plan of 1979 to the "new" management plan of 2014. Our conclusion...

"Scrap the 2014 plan for the management of the grey wolf. Return to the progressive management plan of 1979. Augment it with what science has learned since 1979, almost all of which dispels the notion of the "big bad wolf" and shows its value to society and ecosystems."

After reviewing and carefully dissecting both the draft and final versions of the latest BC wolf management plan it's clear it's nothing more than a very thinly-veiled effort to justify widespread proactive wolf control. In brief, it is a plan which pays lip service to awareness of (and understanding of) recent studies that clearly show the positive value of wolves in structuring and shaping complete ecosystems and increasing biodiversity, but recommends only actions designed to proactively cull wolf populations to as low a level as possible without actually endangering them. The plan does not contain a single action that facilitates the return of wolves to portions of the province from which they have been extirpated or where they are now represented with only relic populations.

I strongly encourage that anyone who is interested in wolf conservation to read our Tyee article comparing the old and new management plans. If you'd like to examine the 1979 and 2014 management plans for yourself, just click on the links below:

• Read the entire Tyee article: BC's Wolf Killing Plan a Big Step Backwards

Download the 1979 Wolf Management Plan for BC (PDF; 2.0 MB)

Download the 2014 Wolf Management Plan for BC (PDF; 1.4 MB)

Now that the the new wolf management plan has been exposed as being grossly deficient, it's time for two things:

• Making specific recommendations (that are consistent with what modern science has taught us about wolves) for modifications to the 2014 wolf management plan and/or the policies which are logically derived from it (e.g., BC's Hunting Regulations as they apply to the Grey Wolf) and

• Taking direct action to change the plan. In this case, we feel the best approach is a letter-writing campaign directed at key individuals in the BC Government.


We strongly encourage you to write letters or emails to the BC Government protesting the 2014 Wolf Management Plan. Because BC government officials have discounted the value of "form letters" in past conservation campaigns, we encourage you to put the letter in your own words (you'll find suggested items to include in the next section below). Here's some key individuals to send your letters to (and sending them to more than one is encouraged!):

Premier Christy Clark
Parliament Buildings
Box 9041
Victoria, BC V8W 9E1

Minister Steve Thomson
Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations
PO Box 9049
Stn. Prov. Govt
Victoria, BC V8W 9E2

NDP MLA Norm MacDonald
Official Opposition Critic for the Environment
Room 201
Parliament Buildings
Victoria, BC V8V 1X4

Green Party MLA Andrew Weaver
Room 027C
Parliament Buildings
Victoria, BC V8V 1X4


Here are some key changes to wolf management in BC that you might want to include in your letter. Note that a more detailed discussion of the rationale for each point can be found in the following section (below).

1. A Shift from Widespread Proactive Wolf Control to Limited, Localized Reactive Wolf Management.

2. A Complete Overhaul of Wolf Hunting Regulations in BC. We recommend that wolf hunting in BC should mirror the closely restricted hunting of other top-level carnivores in BC. This means:

• Species-specific tag required to hunt a wolf (priced comparably to black bear tags)
• Bag limit of 1 wolf per season
• Mandatory reporting of all wolves killed
• Hunting season from November 1st to March 31st
• No taking of any wolves in the presence of young-of-the-year
• Hunting is subject to all principles of fair chase (no baiting, no use of dogs, no hunting from any motorized vehicle)

3. Wolf Control to Protect Livestock As a Last Resort Only.

4. Creation of Multiple No-hunting Zones (refugia) for Wolves.

5. Outright Ban of the Use of Poison for Wolf Control.

6. Outright Ban of the Use of Killing Neck Snares for Wolf Control.


1. A Shift from Widespread Proactive Wolf Control to Limited, Localized Reactive Wolf Management. If you read the 2014 Wolf Management Plan, examine the regulations that govern wolf-hunting in BC, and find a way to observe the killing of wolves by provincial Conservation Officers at the request of cattle ranchers, there is only one possible conclusion you can come to: that the BC Government believes that wolf management consists primarily of widespread proactive wolf culling. This basic, ingrained philosophy is based fully in outdated legacy thinking influenced more by fantasy and myth than by scientific fact. It must be replaced with a modern view of wolves as critical components of natural, healthy, and resilient ecosystems.

Critical Background Information: The 1979 Wolf Management Plan recognized wolves as critical components of healthy ecosystems and that any control of wolf populations should be on a limited, reactive basis only. It foreshadowed the many studies that followed (available upon request) that clearly demonstrated that wolves and other top-level carnivores are critical in structuring and shaping virtually all levels of ecosystems (from herbivore to plants to the actual landscape itself) through what are now known as trophic cascade effects. We also now know that family groups of wolves (packs) are much less prone to preying on livestock if they are left intact (simply because intact packs are more capable of catching and killing natural prey than if they are decimated by hunting or culling). We've long known that wolves (and other carnivores) exhibit both density-dependent reproduction and population growth rates. This means that as they recolonize areas they initially expand in population size but, as the carrying capacity of the habitat is approached, reproductive rates and population growth taper until population growth effectively ceases. In the simplest terms - left undisturbed, wolf populations are self-regulating.

If we add in the knowledge that depredation rates on livestock by ALL predators are remarkably low (less than one tenth of 1% of the livestock being grazed in the province by the government's own figures), then the shift in wolf management philosophy from one endorsing limited, reactive wolf control in the 1979 plan to one of widespread, proactive wolf culling in the 2014 plan is beyond puzzling and is logically indefensible.

2. A Complete Overhaul of Wolf Hunting Regulations in BC. We recommend that wolf hunting in BC should mirror the closely restricted hunting of other top-level carnivores in BC. This means:

• Species-specific tag required to hunt a wolf (priced comparably to black bear tags)
• Bag limit of 1 wolf per season
• Mandatory reporting of all wolves killed
• Hunting season from November 1st to March 31st
• No taking of any wolves in the presence of young-of-the-year
• Hunting is subject to all principles of fair chase (no baiting, no use of dogs, no hunting from any motorized vehicle)

Critical Background Information: At present, the wolf is the only top-level carnivore in BC for which no species-specific tag is required. For almost half of the land mass of BC there are no bag limits for wolves and for virtually all of BC there is no mandatory reporting of kills (which functionally means there is no bag limit for the entire province). In many regions of BC there is year-round hunting allowed, even during the pup-rearing season. Combined, these regulations (or lack thereof) actively encourage the opportunistic shooting of wolves whenever they are seen by anyone with a hunting license and a gun in their hands. Currently, if a group of hunters stumbles upon a family group of wolves (a pack) - even one including pups-of-the-year - they can begin shooting and not stop until all that is left is a pile of smoking corpses. There is no way to interpret this other than the obvious - BC's current hunting regulations unjustifiably treat the wolf as vermin. This must change.

Editorial Note: There are strong ecological, economic, and ethical arguments for banning the trophy hunting of ALL carnivores, including wolves. In practical terms, going from nearly unregulated province-wide, government-sanctioned slaughter of wolves directly to an outright ban on any hunting of them is probably too big a step to have any chance for success. Baby steps!

3. Wolf Control to Protect Livestock As a Last Resort Only. In the rare instances where wolves habitually prey on livestock we recommend that wolf culling is used ONLY if 1) there is clear documentation/verification that the source of predation is wolves and that 2) the owner of the livestock can demonstrate that they have taken every practical non-lethal measure to reduce predation.

Critical Background Information: At present, the rights and welfare of livestock (owned by private entrepreneurs) that are grazed on public crown land take precedence over the naturally occurring wildlife found there. This is despite the fact that the livestock are functionally invasive species and cause many forms of damage to the land, including damage to riparian zones, introduction of invasive plants, the introduction of diseases to wildlife, and more. The 2006 UN report entitled "Livestock's Long Shadow" (PDF of abridged version; 245 KB - complete report available upon request) outlines the full array of damage that the grazing of livestock causes.

In contrast, the predators found on the land help ensure biodiversity, encourage the regeneration of forests, increase overall ecosystem productivity, and even assist in increasing carbon dioxide absorption (references to studies available upon request). Moreover, the cost of predator control (often at the behest of the livestock owner) is borne by all taxpayers of BC.

Taken as a whole, the entire concept of taxpayer-funded predator and/or wolf control on crown land for the perceived benefit of livestock and/or ranchers seems - at best - completely misdirected. It would be easy to argue that a full reversal of the situation (banning livestock from all crown land and encouraging the return of all natural predators) would make more sense to society as a whole - it is undeniable that it would make more sense ecologically. A less extreme position would be to move toward a user-risk model where losses to predation are accepted by the livestock owner as a cost-of-doing-business and "part of the package" for being allowed to damage public land for their own profit.

4. Creation of Multiple No-hunting Zones (refugia) for Wolves. As per the 1979 Wolf Management Plan, we recommend the creation of multiple no-hunting zones throughout the province where wolf populations are fully naturally-regulated and from which cattle grazing is prohibited.

Critical Background Information: The 1979 wolf management plan recognized the intrinsic value of wolves, as well as both their potential economic value (through commercial wildlife watching opportunities) and their ecological value in structuring ecosystems and enhancing biodiversity (even though studies confirming the ecosystem effects weren't published for many decades after the plan came out). Further, the 1979 plan recognized the potential for conflict between ranchers and wolves and specifically indicated that cattle grazing should be prohibited in wolf refugia. Over a century of persecution has left the wolves remaining in the province exceptionally wary and currently unsuitable as candidates for viable commercial wolf-viewing enterprises. However, as demonstrated in several National Parks in and along the BC border (e.g., Kootenay National Park, Banff National Park), once persecution ceases it is not long before wolves lose enough of their wariness to become commercially "watchable" (and further argues for no-hunting zones).

An additional benefit of no-hunting zones is that they would provide the opportunity to study many of the aspects of the behavior and ecology of wolves in naturally-regulated populations.

There are several wilderness regions in BC where cattle are currently not being grazed and are unsuitable for cattle (without massive changes to the landscape, such as widespread massive clear-cutting of forests) and that would be suitable as wolf refugia. The northern portion of Vancouver Island, the entire Great Bear Rainforest, and the Spatzizi region of northern BC are only 3 examples of regions where refugia could be established.

5. Outright Ban of the Use of Poison for Wolf Control. As far as we can determine poison is currently not being used to cull wolves in BC - but is not specifically banned. We request that its use be formally banned.

Critical Background Information: Historically the government of BC used a poison known as compound 1080 (sodium monofluoroacetate ) to dramatically reduce wolf populations in many areas across BC (and despite its use being discontinued in 1961 some wolf populations have still not recovered). Compound 1080 is effective as a killing agent, but the death it causes is prolonged and exceptionally painful and inhumane. Moreover, the use of poisons to control wildlife is very non-specific to the intended target, and many other species (including domestic dogs) are killed when poisons are used.

6. Outright Ban of the Use of Killing Neck Snares for Wolf Control. Unlike poisons, killing neck snares ARE being used by the government of BC and trappers for the killing of wolves. We request that their use be formally banned.

Critical Background Information: Canada is a signatory of the Agreement on Humane Trapping Standards (AIHTS). AIHTS provides a regularly-updated list of traps of humane methods of trapping animals, including both humane killing traps and humane restraining traps. In its current Hunting and Trapping Synopsis the BC government states that it conforms to AIHTS and states that the agreement applies to wildlife management purposes, including wildlife conflict control AND for conservation purposes. There are NO killing neck snares listed by AIHTS as approved for use. Yet, almost amazingly, the government of BC simply exempts itself from abiding by the list of approved traps and uses killing neck snares themselves (for "conservation purposes" by Conservation Officers) and encourages their use by trappers. Why? It's not clear, but presumably because they're cheap, easy-to-use, and coldly efficient. However, they are non-specific and kill many non-targeted animals (including cougars). And those snagged in the snares suffer prolonged and incredibly painful (and terrifying) deaths (see this letter from Dr. Jose Diaz, DVM - PDF; 57 KB).

Supporting Documentation:

List of AIHTS Approved Traps (PDF; 139 KB)

BC Hunting and Trapping Synopsis (excerpt - PDF; 416 KB - see pages 91, 94, abd 95.

Please note that an online petition against the use of killing snares in BC may be found by following the link below - feel free to add your name and voice!

Stop the Use of Killing Neck Snares Against Wolves in British Columbia

Thanks for taking some of your valuable time to read this and for doing the right thing in speaking up against BC's archaic approach to wolf management. Doing the wrong thing for a long time - even decades or a century - doesn't make it right.


2. Stop the Use of Killing Neck Snares Against Wolves in British Columbia

Date: 24 February, 2013

A. The Issue:

The Government of BC is engaged in an active war against the Grey Wolf. One of the most horrifying elements of this campaign against the wolf is their use of killing neck snares - a method of culling wolves that is painful, inhumane, and cruel. The snares are indiscriminate and torture, maim and kill any animal that wanders into them. Government representatives set these snares at the behest of private entrepreneurs, including ranchers, often on crown (public) land. The overall wolf management plan that drives this cruel practice is wrong on all levels - it makes no sense either in ecological or economic terms, and does not reflect the value system embraced by most British Columbians. We must change how the Government manages wolves, and demand an immediate end to the use of killing neck snares against wolves.

B. The Full Case Against the Killing Neck Snares

The case against the use of killing neck snares on wolves and other carnivores in British Columbia is very clear-cut and fully backed by science. But sometimes after reading hundreds of scientific papers it can be hard to see the forest for the trees. Here's the essence of the argument, complete with references and/or links to those wishing to examine the supporting evidence.

1. The snares themselves are inhumane, cause unnecessary pain and suffering, and kill many non-target animals. See 21 February 2013 entry on my blog for supporing evidence and testimonials.

2. The use of the snares directly violates the Agreement on International Humane Trapping Standards (AIHTS), to which Canada is a signatory and which the BC Government claims to follow. See 26 February 2013 entry on my blog for supporting evidence.

3. The Grey Wolf has high ecological value, clear economic value if managed correctly, and incalculable spiritual and aesthetic value. See Commentary: On the Value of a Wolf for the science supporting this perspective.

4. The Grey Wolf has only a trivial cost to society, a measurable but much smaller impact on big game populations than humans do, and depredation rates on cattle that can only be described as minuscule. See Commentary: On the Cost of a Wolf for data and relevant studies.

5. The possibility exists that the use of the snares is in direct violation of the Criminal Code of Canada (i.e., illegal). See 27 February 2013 entry on my blog for relevant supporting evidence.

The case FOR the use of the snares? It is tough to find a logical one - and impossible to find one that is backed by science. It appears that it is simply a legacy argument along the lines of "because we always have." And, to those using them, the reality of the snares in daily use probably plays a huge role in why they are still used today: they are cheap, lightweight, easy to pack up and carry, relatively easy to set-up, legally need to be checked once every 14 days and, given time, will kill (at least something).

For the entire chronological story about these particularly snares - my discovery of wolf snares near my home begins with my 11 February 2013 blog entry. Simply follow the "Wolf Snares In My Backyard" series from bottom to top from the 11 February entry.

C. Take Action - The Online Petition:

Add your name to our rapidly growing online petition against the use of killing neck snares:

Stop the Use of Killing Neck Snares Against Wolves in BC

For those wishing to distribute the full URL, here it is:

Please sign the petition, and do whatever you can to spread the word about this disgusting situation - let's go viral on this one!

D. Additional Resources:

Copyright-free resources you can download and use as you see fit to help put an end to these disgusting snares:

Wolf Neck Snare Discovered in Use on February 10: Download 1200 pixel image (JPEG: 750 KB)

Press Release - 25 February 2013: Download Press Release (PDF: 102 KB)

Media Coverage: A number of media outlets - including radio, online, and print publications - have shown strong interest in this story. Here's just a small sampling:

The Huffington Post: BC's Tortuous Wolf Management

The Nature Photographers Online Magazine: Wolf Snares In My Backyard

The Columbia Valley Pioneer (print and online) - March 8, 2013: War on wolves wraps up (PDF: 15.6 MB)

Check back soon for additional tools and ways you can help stop the cruel and inhumane treatment of the Grey Wolf

E. My Personal Appeal To You:

Way back in 1970 L. David Mech wrote a classic book simply called "The Wolf". In it, he said this about "wolf haters":

"These people cannot be changed. If the wolf is to survive, the wolf haters must be outnumbered. They must be outshouted, out-financed, and outvoted. Their narrow and biased attitude must be outweighed by an attitude based on an understanding of natural processes. Finally their hate must be outdone by a love for the whole of nature, for the unspoiled wilderness, and for the wolf as a beautiful interesting, and integral part of both."

The time to outshout them is NOW. Please sign the petition. And please spread the word. Let's go viral with this - add the petition to your Facebook page, tell everyone about it on Twitter. Email your friends. Let's make it impossible for the BC Government to NOT listen to us. Go nuts!

Thank you with all my heart...