Governent contradicts Caribou Recovery Plan worker's statement re: wolf cull tactics, government urged to respond

The paw print of a wolf in the South Selkirk

The paw print of a wolf in the South Selkirk

Last week, the government disputed claims made by Wildlife Defence League that the wolf cull is being executed more inhumanely than previously understood. On Monday, a Forests, Lands and Natural Resources spokesperson denied the use of a “Judas wolf” during their culls. In response, today Wildlife Defence League is releasing part of a field interview they conducted while researching the cull and caribou habitat protection last month. 

“Is the government being dishonest with the public, who are footing the bill for this slaughter? Or are they just out of touch with the reality of their kill program?” said Tommy Knowles, Campaign Director of Wildlife Defence League, “Whatever the case, we need to get to the bottom of it, and request that the government clarify what tactics are really being used in the cull.” 

The government insists its wolf cull is humane by veterinary standards, but details revealed by the source, who states in the recording that he works for the Mountain Caribou Recovery Project, suggest otherwise. In the recordings, the source explains the radio-collared wolf is left to live after his pack has been killed. (Clip #5.) He also explains that within a few months the collared wolf will have packed up with another two or three wolves (Clip #4) who will then be “taken out” (Clip #5).

Wildlife Defence League was in the South Selkirk researching and documenting the cull and caribou habitat protection. While in the field they spoke with individuals with direct ties to the wolf cull and caribou recovery programs. 

Media contact:

Tommy Knowles (available from 6am-10:30am and 7pm-10pm PST)

Campaign Director, Wildlife Defence League



Transcript of all five recordings available below.

Links to the recordings:

CLIP 1: On working with the caribou recovery program

CLIP 2: On how wolves are collared

CLIP 3: On how the GPS collars are used

CLIP 4: On the Judas wolf

CLIP 5: On “taking them out” once Judas wolf packs up

Press release from Thursday, Feb 18

Government response as reported by National Observer









Source: Since I’ve been back and worked with this program.

WDL: What program is that?

Source: The caribou recovery.


WDL: Do you guide or are you just by yourself?

Source: I’m a retired wildlife patrol guide. Now I just capture them and put a radio collar on them.

WDL: So you radio collar wolves?

Source: Yah, I do that as well.

WDL: How does that work?

Source: You set out a foot trap that’s got a gap in it so it won’t break bones or do any tissue damage and then you get one and then you tranquilize it and they’re submissive, they’re a piece of cake to work on. I have a video of one I did, its tail is wagging, just like a dog.


Source: The survivor, I got the collar on, he’s not a dominant one he’s a subdominant male and sometimes he’s with buddies and other time’s he’s got no one.

WDL: What do they use to track?

Source: This reports to a satellite every 4 hours and it will tell you where he’s at and you can tell how many kills it has because if they anchor in an area for more than 24 hours, if he’s not moving for 24 hours he’s sitting on a kill then that gives you the GPS location.


WDL: So how are they killing them, are there just hunters on the ground?

Source: No they got a helicopter.

WDL: Does the heli fly lots, are we going to be in the way here?

Source: No no it’s all done they just left one with a radio collar on and then they can buzz in see if he’s got new recruitment, we’re right against the states. Within two or three months there will be another couple or three here.


WDL: So they just spend a few days killing wolves then they’re out of here?

Source: Yah cause you got a radio collar on it and they know where the one is at and they leave that one with a radio collar to live and now they can come back and okay he’s got buddies, better take them out.

Press Release: South Selkirk Wolves Confirmed Slaughtered in Second Year of BC Wolf Cull

A trail camera captures an image of a wolf in the South Selkirk.

A trail camera captures an image of a wolf in the South Selkirk.

SOUTH SELKIRK, February 18, 2016 - BC-based conservation organization, Wildlife Defence League, has received information that the second year of the BC Liberals’ five year plan to cull wolves in the South Selkirk region is now over. 

Sources connected to the slaughter disclosed that all pack members, with the exception of a “Judas” wolf, have been gunned down by helicopter. Until now, it was understood that “Judas” wolves are collared in the spring and tracked in the winter, when the Judas wolf and his or her family were killed.

“We were shocked to learn the Judas wolf is kept alive year after year,” said Tommy Knowles, Campaign Director for Wildlife Defence League. “He or she is left to pack up with a new family, who are deliberately baited into the territory. The next winter, the Judas wolf’s new pack is slaughtered. If watching your family killed year after year by snipers in helicopters is what this government considers a “humane” cull, I shudder to imagine what they consider inhumane.” 

Conservation organizations, independent biologists and even the BC Liberals have acknowledged habitat destruction, including logging, as the root cause of caribou decline.

Trail cameras set up in the area captured an image of a wolf. “This wolf puts a face to the cull. He or she is either now dead, at the hands of the BC Liberals and Bighorn Helicopters, or is their “Judas” wolf. Both possibilities are beyond comprehension,” said Knowles.

Anyone with information about the South Peace and South Selkirk culls is encouraged to get in touch with the organization. 


Tracking Those Who Target Wolves

Cull – noun - a selective slaughter of wild animals.

In just under ten years, Bighorn Helicopters has culled over 1000 wolves in Alberta and British Columbia. Acting as bounty hunters for the provincial governments, they continue to perpetuate an anthropocentric view that has plagued the wild since Europeans settled in what is today known as Canada. 

When the Liberal government of British Columbia announced they would be killing entire wolf packs from helicopter in a so-called effort to save endangered caribou, it came as no surprise that Bighorn chose to take the contract. As an organization dedicated to defending wildlife from exploitation, we refuse to let the actions of this company go unnoticed and unchallenged.

Last winter, we launched a pressure campaign against Bighorn. Our supporters succeeded in tying up their phone lines and e-mails, day after day. The re-launch of call-ins, e-mails and faxes began again last week to coincide with the second year of the wolf cull in British Columba – but this season, we have stepped up our campaign.

Bighorn Helicopter’s head office and hanger is located in Cranbrook. They also have a base in Fernie and Invermere - contact information can be found on our event page. The company is also known to frequent airports and landing strips in the Kootenays to refuel and resupply as they attempt to cull wolves. 

When it comes to slaughtering wildlife, Bighorn's reputation precedes them. Tuesday night, Bighorn flew into Nelson, resupplied and shut down until morning. At approximately 10am the next day, they were seen flying into the South Selkirk mountains, possibly to cull wolves. 

Gone are the days when Bighorn flew under the radar, silently killing these highly intelligent, social beings with our tax dollars.

We will not stop until they do.

Join us in calling on Bighorn Helicopters to cease their participation in the slaughter of wolves.

Activists Drop Banner At Site Of BC Wolf Cull In Message To Bighorn Helicopters And The Provincial Government

Photo: Sam Edmonds

SOUTH SELKIRK, February 3, 2016 - BC-based conservation organization, Wildlife Defence League, took to ground zero of the province’s wolf cull to send a strong message on behalf of BC taxpayers to the Liberal government and Bighorn Helicopters.

Members dropped a banner in a forest cut-block in BC’s South Selkirk region, demanding the government and Bighorn Helicopters “stop killing wolves”. The group’s surveillance team captured the banner from the air, while out patrolling the area for evidence of the ongoing cull. The region is an epicentre of the province’s controversial wolf cull, where wolves are being blamed for the decline in caribou populations. In the South Selkirk and South Peace regions, the BC government aims to kill 200 wolves, primarily by sharp shooters in helicopters, in its second year of a five-year plan. 

This despite continued habitat destruction and disturbance in and around caribou habitat, including logging, mining, oil and gas projects and recreational activity, which opponents argue are the root cause for the decline in caribou.

“Bighorn Helicopters is responsible for the slaughter of over 1000 wolves in the last decade and they continue this despicable legacy of killing wolves, including mothers and pups, through their role in the government-sponsored, taxpayer-funded wolf cull. We are calling on the BC government and Bighorn Helicopters to end the cull and reallocate those resources to caribou habitat protection and restoration.” said Tommy Knowles, Campaign Director for Wildlife Defence League. 

Wildlife Defence League has launched a campaign against Bighorn Helicopters for the second year in a row. They are calling on the public to contact the company and demand they drop their wolf kill contract with the government of British Columbia. The organization is also on the ground in the South Selkirk region in an effort to monitor, document and expose the cull and showcase the true reasons for the decline in caribou.  


Press Release: Wildlife Defence League in the field to monitor, document, expose the wolf cull and demand caribou protection in British Columbia.

Wildlife Defence League crew in the field, attempting to monitor, document, expose BC wolf cull. Photo credit: Sam Edmonds

Wildlife Defence League crew in the field, attempting to monitor, document, expose BC wolf cull. Photo credit: Sam Edmonds

SOUTH SELKIRK, January 18, 2016 – Wildlife Defence League crew have taken to the field to monitor, document and expose the taxpayer-funded wolf cull and to demand genuine caribou protection in British Columbia. Members of the organization are situated in strategic locations throughout the South Selkirk.

Culling wolves to save caribou is a scientifically flawed approach to wildlife management and fails to address the true reason for the decline in herds – habitat loss and fragmentation. In the South Selkirk, logging decimated critical habitat years ago and scarred the landscape, leaving it uninhabitable for caribou. Both industry and government understood the consequences of their decisions but continued on. With an estimated 12 caribou left in the South Selkirk, they are now functionally extinct from the landscape.

“The BC Liberals commenced the wolf cull for the second year in a row in order to give the appearance that they are trying to protect caribou,” said Tommy Knowles, Campaign Director for Wildlife Defence League. In reality, their intention is to scapegoat wolves while allowing industry to go un-checked.”

Shooting wolves from helicopters also has ethical implications that must be noted. Entire wolf packs, including pups will be mercilessly gunned down at the hands of snipers. These highly intelligent, social animals and their families will be torn apart. They will be forced to watch as their siblings, mothers, fathers are shot to death.

The organization says it will not stand by while the wolf cull continues and endangered caribou continue to fade off into extinction. “Our intention is to show British Columbians how their tax dollars are being spent ineffectively and unethically, to draw attention to the need for genuine caribou protection.”