protecting them until a problem develops and then targeting specific problem animals rather than all wolves indiscriminately. We think that is a wonderful statement and one that the majority of Albertans could comfortably get behind and support. A comprehensive plan that is supported by current, peer reviewed science, instead of just implementing the same old plan of simply killing off what doesn't fit neatly into our lives. It is about addressing human behaviours, which are ultimately the core issue. Thanks so much to all of you for your help and support.
There are two issues with respect to wolves in Alberta.
1) Caribou recovery. The GoA is basically killing wolves and creating a caribou farm when the issue is habitat. If there is no where for them to live and safely reproduce, no food to eat then the caribou will not survive. If industry continues to disrupt this sensitive species and provide direct access via cutlines and logging roads for predators and for other ungulates in to caribou habitat these animals will not survive. Countless scientists have weighed in on this against the cull and fenced in area for the caribou as being futile as the habitat issues have not been adequately addressed. Over many years wolves have been shot from the air and poisoned with little to no impact on caribou recovery. The science does not support what the GoA is putting in place to “recover” the caribou. The GoA’s plan does not even adequately address public access to this sensitive area let alone industry.
2) Wolves can be hunted 10 months of the year, all you need is a tag and you can kill as many wolves as you can find during the large game season. Ranchers can kill a wolf for just being near their land, let alone having actually done anything to warrant being killed at any time throughout the year and the rancher does not have to have done anything to be proactively deterring predation, such as electric fencing, proper husbandry or supervision. Even on public land where cattle graze, wolves can be killed just for being there.
3) Wolves can be snared or trapped 6 months of the year. The GoA will tell you that traps and snares are considered perfectly humane according to the Fur Institute. That is a bit like taking advice from a fox on about hen house security. Proulx and Rodtka have studies that show how horrific and inhumane snares really are but all you really need to do is see a photo of a nearly decapitated animal to know that the death was not the “humane and swift” death that trappers will have you believe. In addition traps/snares are not species specific, many animals including dogs and cats are caught in traps.
4) Poison is used by ranchers on occasion through Fish and Wildlife and in caribou habitat. Poison is used no where else in North America as a wildlife management tool, it is considered too inhumane, not species specific (that is it kills anything that consumes and can get into the food chain through water, ground and other animals). Death by poison is enormously painful and causes tremendous suffering.
5) Although the GoA admits that bounties are not a useful tool in “managing” predators, that in fact they can actually increase predation issues and they do not pay bounties, they do allow them to go ahead with municipalities and outfitters paying the bounty. The outfitters use this method to reduce predators in order to increase the number of ungulates that they can kill in their guiding business. So special interest groups reaping the benefits. For the municipalities the bounties can be included in killing contests for fun. Culls and bounties are ineffective because:
When a pack is fractured, an alpha animal for example, younger animals who rely heavily on adults to teach them to hunt and survive will not have the benefit of this guidance and may resort to livestock as a way to survive.
Rebound reproduction - several pairs may reproduce in a pack, not just the alpha, when they are heavily hunted. In order to sustain the larger number of offspring, they may resort to livestock predation.
When a entire pack is removed, another one will likely move in or at least other predators and these new residents in an area may not have the skills of the previous ones to hunt their natural prey and may resort to livestock predation.
While it is not always possible to completely remove lethal methods, it is clear that overall they are not reliable and if they were then they would not need to be repeatedly used. Ranchers should have the assistance in use of non lethal methods such as electric fencing, range riders, livestock guarding animals, rotational fencing/grazing and many other methods as opposed to simply providing payment for the livestock after the predation with no accountability on the rancher to mitigate future losses ie. husbandry and fencing etc.
Culls, bounties, snares and use of poisons should be prohibited. Hunting season of wolves at least reduced considerably if not completely. In caribou areas, focus on habitat reconstrucirton, major reduction in disturbance, closing off of access points.