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Stop the sterilization of wolves by BC vets

by Gary R. Allan




In the majestic Quesnel Highlands of B.C., since 2001, the Province of B.C. has been engaged in a perverted experiment with the reproductive rights of Canis lupus (wolves).




Two biologists from the Ministry of Environment (MOE) and Ministry of Natural Resources Operations (MNRO), with the complicity of the veterinarians of the Williams Lake Vet Hospital, have been trapping, sedating and transporting unsuspecting wolves to the vet hospital to be sterilized.  To date, 52 wolves have been sterilized.  Ten of thirteen packs have been sterilized in this area.


Within 24 hours of capture, sterilized wolves are returned to the same location and released.  These biologists and their staff are also killing the sub-dominant wolves (non-breeders of the pack), along with the pups.


Why are these biologists engaged in these Mengele type experiments?  Because they want to study the effects of fertility control on wolves.  The theory is that they sterilize the breeding pair of the pack (usually only 1 pair breeds in a wolf pack) and this pair obviously will not reproduce but they will vigorously defend their territory, keeping other fertile wolves out.  The experiment is aimed at, significantly reducing the wolf population in the area.


The sterilized pair will very likely be killed by other larger wolf packs, grizzly bears or other large carnivores.  Wolves seldom live beyond 5 years of age and wolves are not able to breed until 2 years of age.  Therefore this sterilized pair has a very short non-reproductive period and once they die, their territory will be recolonized by non-sterilized wolves. These wolves are also fair game to hunters and trappers, who could remove the sterilized pair and return the pack to fertile status.


To ensure a fertility control program works, it is essential to sterilize the breeding pair.  This can be difficult in different pack structures because the breeding pairs can change.  If a non-breeder is sterilized by accident, GPS collar tracking is used to locate the other pack members. The biologists then kill the other members of the pack including yearlings and pups.


The biologists state in their report, “Quesnel Highand Wolf Project Progress Report, Nov. 2005 – March 2010” that they are conducting this experiment because of the Mountain Caribou recovery program.  The Mountain Caribou, are a red listed species (endangered) under the Federal Species and Risk Act (SARA).  This experimental program commenced in 2001, long before the Mountain Caribou were listed as endangered.  It is now very convenient to link this sterilization project to savingan endangered species to legitimize the project.


What the biologists don’t disclose in their report is that grizzly bears are the main predator of caribou calves.  Yes, wolves do predate on caribou but the biologists, later in their report, finally admit that the wolf is not the main nor sole predator on caribou calves.  Many wildlife studies confirm that grizzly bears heavily predate on caribou calves.


In no way am I suggesting that grizzly bears be culled or sterilized.  MOE and MNRO know that the public would not countenance that program; but it is completely misleading to target the wolf as the scapegoat for predation on Mountain Caribou when it is not the main predator.


Veterinarian Involvement


Why would vets become involved in this immoral, unethical experiment?  Is it another revenue stream for them?  The public views veterinarians as wonderful professionals assisting and maintaining the health of our pets and livestock. By engaging in this sterilization project, I submit that they are violating the Canadian Oath they take.  This Oath states: “I will strive to promote animal health and welfare, relieve animal suffering, protect the health of the public and the environment and advance comparative medical knowledge.”


How does involvement in this sterilization project promote animal health and welfare?  How does it relieve animal suffering?  The vet at the Williams Lake Vet Hospital admitted to me in a personal interview that these sterilization procedures were very invasive and this may violate his Oath.  He stated to me that I had raised a very good point and he would have to give the question more thought.  When contacted by email a week later for his considered opinion, he did not respond.  This Vet Hospital’s vets have been performing these sterilization procedures for 9 years, and it is now only after a member of the public questions their ethics, that they consider their actions in relation to their Oath?  That tells me they were much more interested in the revenue than taking an ethical stand.


These wolves are experiencing very invasive surgery and then released within 24 hours into the wild with no follow up or after care.  When your vet sterilizes your cat or dog, they advise you to keep the animal calm and inactive for up to 7 days.  How does MOE staff monitor these wolves when they have so traumatized them that they disappear after being released and despite the GPS collars, they are unable to locate them?  How do they know that there have not been complications due to the surgery? They don’t.


Another potentially very serious problem, which was raised by veterinarian professionals who reviewed the design of an Albertan sterilization project;  is the spreading of disease when wildlife veterinary practices are mixed with domestic animal veterinary practice.


These reviewing vets expressed real concern around, bringing a wolf into an animal hospital.  Most wolves are carriers of parasites which could infect the domestic animals at the hospital.  Conversely, these wolves may contract diseases from the animals and then spread the disease upon release into the wild.  Then how do you control the spread of this disease? You can’t.


This exact scenario occurred on Isle Royale National Park where a dog infected with canine parvovirus came onto the island.  The wolves got infected, killing many of them.  Because it was on an island it was contained but that will not be the case in B.C.


What responsibility and liability does the vet, vet hospital and CVBC (College of Vets, BC) share in this matter?  Does these actions, not violate the vet’s Oath again by not protecting the health of the public?


When the CVBC were contacted regarding these immoral, unethical procedures performed by their vets, they hid behind their professional regulatory authority by stating that they had no authority to discipline a member unless wrongful conduct could be proven against the vet.  How far will CVBC go in its complicity with MOE & MNRO on their experiments with wildlife?


Proponents of Wolf Sterilization


Proponents will state this is a non-lethal method of wolf control.  Think again!  When a vet sterilizes a wolf, it kills an irreplaceable gene pool and that individual’s diverse pool of genes is lost. 


Proponents will further argue that if sterilization is selectively applied to a specific area, it is justifiable.  However, in their report, the biologist states that this Quesnel Highlands sterilization project is a pilot project which maybe replicated in other areas of B.C.


There was a 2006 BC wolf sterilization project in the Northern Rock Mountain area.  According to a leading wolf biologist for North America, this experiment failed but MOE will not disclose the reasons for its failure.


We can not trust MOE or MNRO to keep this wolf sterilization project confined to just this area of Quesnel.  These ministries are very secretive regarding wolves and they are led and controlled by a strong anti-wolf faction.  It is important for concerned individuals and the public at large to restrain their aspirations for this type of wolf control. 


Ethical Considerations


What right do humans have to sterilize a wild animal?  Are we good stewards of the environment if we start tinkering with the balance of nature by removing an animal’s ability to reproduce it self?  Once you shake hands with the devil it is very hard to regain your moral compass.


This is why we need animal rights legislation in B.C.  So these defenseless animals can have a voice in the policy process of the B.C. Gov’t, CVBC and other animal agencies, or in the law courts of B.C.


 I challenge the vets of B.C. to do the right and honorable thing and speak out against this immoral, unethical and perverse practice of sterilizing wild wolves.  Remember what Mahatma Gandhi said, “The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”

If the readers are as outraged as I am against this sterilization program, then please speak out for these animals.  Email the following people and demand that it stops:


Valerie Osborne, Registrar & CEO of CVBC


Williams Lake Vet Hospital


Murray Coell, Minister of the Environment (B.C.)

Email address:


Steve Thomson, Minister of Natural Resources Operations

Email address:




Submitted by Gary R. Allan

Spokesperson for the Canadian Wolf Coalition

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