Miley Cyrus Teams With Biologist Squad for Wolf Conservation

The singer’s trip up north comes less than a month after she protested the British Columbia wolf culls on social media.
Miley and Braison Cyrus. (Photo: April Bencze/Pacific Wild)
Sep 21, 2015· 1 MIN READ
Jennifer Swann is TakePart’s culture and lifestyle reporter.

It’s not uncommon for celebrities to advocate for social causes on Instagram. What’s more unusual is for a meme to inspire an international research project.

Such was the case when Miley Cyrus jetted north to British Columbia over the weekend with brother Braison, for a wildlife excursion that was organized with the help of Canadian conservation nonprofit Pacific Wild. The siblings joined a crew of biologists to explore a lush coastal region dubbed the Great Bear Rainforest by conservationists. It’s home to grizzly bears, salmon, whales, and wolves, among other creatures.

Three weeks earlier, the pop star inadvertently boosted Pacific Wild’s profile—and drove a significant amount of traffic to its online petition against the wolf culls—when she used her social media celebrity to draw attention to the wolves being shot across the northern border. A viral meme she posted to her 28 million Instagram followers read: “Why is the British Columbia government killing our wild wolves?”
The trip was part of Cyrus’ larger effort to educate herself and raise awareness about the annual wolf culls that the government of British Columbia announced last winter. Their squad included husband-and-wife research team Mary and John Theberge, biologists who have spent years tracking, studying, and writing about wild wolves. They were also joined by teenage members of the Kitasoo/Xai’Xais First Nation tribe, which has been active in fighting to preserve British Columbia’s natural habitats.

The wolf culls, which involve shooting groups of wolves from helicopters, were instated as a means of protecting the region’s endangered caribou—for whom wolves can be predatory—but many scientists and conservationists maintain that it's an ineffective and cruel way of doing so.

Greig Bethel, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Forests, Lands, and Natural Resource Operations, says the wolf culls are a temporary, short-term solution intended as a last resort to save the caribou. The program resulted in the deaths of 84 wolves last winter. “Every other mitigation effort, including addressing habitat protection and recovery, has already been well under way for some time,” he said via email.

Cyrus may be an unlikely advocate for the northern wildlife cause, but the performer believes her fame can ultimately help bring awareness to the issue. “I can’t believe I’m not a biologist, I’m a pop star. That’s ridiculous,” she said. “But that’s given me such a platform. It takes someone like me and where I am in this platform and especially to talk to all these young people that really do want to make change.”