Management Plan for the Grey Wolf in British Columbia


The management plan has been created with the available information and serves as a guideline in Grey Wolf management. The Grey Wolf is currently not endangered and of least concern in British Columbia. Goals created by the BC Conservation Framework include to contribute to the global efforts for the species, prevent the Grey Wolf from becoming a species at risk and maintain their diversity.

Wolves in BC can weigh between 30 and 50 kg and are the largest wild canid species. Their fur ranges from pure white to black and various mixtures of grey and brown. It is very intelligent and adaptable, making him a highly effective carnivore. Even though the wolf has been extirpated in many parts outside of Canada it is still fully viable within Canada including British Columbia where it has re-established its population since the 1970s.

Wolves are very adaptable and generally inhabit all habitats where there is enough prey. For suitability assessments focus has been on human-caused mortality or disturbance such as road densities. They adapt their diet according to availability of prey but usually they feed on ungulates such as moose or deer.


Many potential threats do not affect the wolf populations so far. The only threat which only has a low impact is hunting. It is seen as a low impact due to the fact that wolves have a high population growth, their range is expanding and they can travel long distances to find new suitable habitats. Due to the non-mandatory reporting system it is unclear how high the take of wolves really is. There has also been an increase in wolf hunting all over British Columbia. However, the impact is still low and can be managed with proper monitoring on the take. All other threats including recreational activities were determined to result in less than 1% reduction of the species and is therefore not seen as a severe threat. Agricultural threats are negligible and control kills connected to agriculture are listed in the hunting section of the threats.

Management History

Wolves are very important to First Nations traditions, therefore, they are also interested in the management planning and will be consulted before changes occur.

In the late 1950s wolf populations were at a minimum, however as soon as the bounties were removed in 1955 and the poisoned baits were forbidden in 1961the population started to grow again. In 1979 a draft wolf management plan was established.

Since 1966 wolves have been managed as a game species, changing wolf seasons on Vancouver Island and the Kootenay region and declaring it a furbearer. As the population increased again, wolf season was reopened on Vancouver Island. In order to recover a black-tailed deer population on northern Vancouver Island a wolf control program was conducted in 1982 but stopped again in the 1990s. Harvest regulations are very liberal today due to the large population of wolves in British Columbia, however, the reporting of take could be improved.

Regarding agriculture, there has been a predator removal program, however, the number of wolves that were removed was small. The Conservation Officer Service is working together with owners of livestock to reduce the predation of such.

In order to increase caribou populations there has been a reduction in wolf populations in certain caribou habitats. The decline in caribou populations is a result of an increase of moose and deer which also increased the wolf population and created more predation pressure on caribou.

The data on wolf harvest is very uncertain as the hunt on wolves mostly occurs opportunistically. Even in areas where the reporting of take is compulsory, some hunted wolves are not reported.

Management Goal and Objectives

The aim is to maintain a self-sustaining wolf population in order for wolves to keep being an important part to the ecology of British Columbia as well as fulfill cultural, recreational and economic needs. Further it is important to minimize the number of livestock taken by wolves and manage wolf populations where it is impacting the recovery of other wildlife species.

Current Management Framework

Wolf management has two sides. In areas where other wildlife populations or livestock are threatened due to predation hunting is open for longer seasons with no bag limits and in areas where it is ensured that wolves fulfill their ecological part hunting seasons are shorter, bag limits exist and protected areas are created. Hunting and trapping should not be prohibited, however it is important to monitor so it doesn’t negatively influence wildlife.

Regulations for Hunting and trapping are created with the use of policy principles, some of which state that these regulations should still allow a variety of opportunities within conservation constraints, they should be easy to interpret and enforce, fair chase and humane treatment need to be recognized, harvest will not jeopardize population viability and genetic variability and First Nations’ interests need to be considered in management planning.

So far, seasons for hunting and trapping exist, bag limits are usually two or three except in areas where predators need to be reduced and hunting and trapping is prohibited in national and provincial parks. No species license is required as well as no restrictions on age and sex.

To monitor the harvest take, questionnaires are sent to several licensed hunters annually. Regions one and four have a compulsory reporting program.

The Conservation Officer Service suggests non-lethal control over wolves concerning livestock protection. This would include better livestock husbandry. On private property the owner can hunt and kill a wolf if encountered, however it still needs to be reported and the wolf remains property of the Crown. Permits to hunt on private land can be distributed, however, only during hunting season.

To increase caribou herds again it is suggested to conduct an aerial reduction of wolf population in areas where it is needed. However, if the ungulate population need only be increased for hunting it is not recommended to reduce wolf populations.

Research that has been conducted usually focused on responses of wolves to changes in predator-prey systems or control. Due to knowledge gaps it is recommended to have an adaptive management system where actions are taken and monitored and the plan is changed accordingly to the outcome.

Management Synthesis

Wolf populations seem to be increasing due to the fact that they are inhabiting previous ranges again, harvest has been increasing, observational reports by the public and Ministry staff and feedback by First Nations and tenure holders.

The increase in wolf hunting is a result of an increasing wolf population, higher bag limits and more motivation by hunters to hunt wolves.

If it stays within conservation goals of the wolf, actions can be taken to lessen the threat on livestock and other wildlife by reducing wolf populations in certain areas. This will result in localized population declines which will recover if there is enough prey availability.

Suggested Actions

In the future assessments of wolf populations should be improved by making data collection easier, finding a better way than compulsory reporting, assessing the effectiveness of a low cost or free species license, improving trapper-based harvest estimates and monitoring activities in connection to research and inventory to improve estimates concerning population size and trends. Other actions include a more structured decision making approach, reviewing the effect of bag limit removal, clarifying the responsibility for livestock damage control, spreading information better through websites especially to livestock owners, making the two management approaches clear that state that wolves will be reduced if they are a threat to livestock and wildlife but that they will be managed in other parts of British Columbia to maintain a predator-prey system, and considering to include wolf control into the current policy on “Control of Species”.


Wolves are of no special conservation concern at the moment and therefore require only few conservation actions to mitigate threats to the populations and ensure that risks stay low. There is a general disinterest to hunt wolves and it usually happens opportunistically. Mostly it is livestock owners that are concerned with the wolf populations as they damage their livestock, or biologists who believe that they endanger other wildlife like caribou. In such areas where livestock or wildlife is threatened wolf control actions can be implemented, however, in order to keep conservation risks small wolves should not be reduced too much in other areas in the province. It is especially important to have clearer data on populations and better reporting of the amount that is taken by hunters. Maintaining a self-sustaining wolf population is important as they play a key part in the ecology of British Columbia.

Wolfs in:

  • Source B.C. Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations. 2014. Management Plan for the Grey Wolf (Canis lupus) in British Columbia. B.C. Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, Victoria, BC. 48 p. Available at : [Accessed 03/2021].