This letter from the Alberta Government is in response to one that we sent a few weeks ago that:
1) Asked about the status of the Alberta Wolf Petition, where it stands, what happens next, will any changes be made in response, when can Albertans expect a new wolf management plan draft?
2) Provided details on alternative methods to those being currently used and a plan for how they could be implemented, including incentives for ranchers who already use alternative methods and incentives for those not already using alternative methods to start using them, as well as cost savings measures for the Government and ultimately tax payers.
3) Outlined countless success stories from Alberta and around the world that used alternative methods as well as supporting studies not only to be pro-active with livestock predation issues, but also in protection of habitat from numerous scientific experts.
4) Provided a tremendous number of studies/papers outlining the immense suffering of target animals, as well as animals considered collateral damages with respect to poison, traps and snares that leave absolutely no doubt to the reasonable mind that these methods are not humane.
5) Provided an incredibly in-depth, well laid out plan to include alternative methods, while acknowledging that lethal may be necessary in some cases but should never be the first go to, acknowledging that alternative methods will take work and planning and will not be effective 100% of the time as well as acknowledging First Nations people regarding trapping activities pursuant to Treaty Number 7.
6) Provided a lengthy, detailed account of the Public Trust Doctrine as it pertains to the issue surrounding public lands and the animals that live on those lands and where the current plan falls down in these areas and how it could be changed to truly take into consideration this doctrine.
7) Outlines how current methods that do not target a specific problem animal, such as poison, snares, killing contests, bounties impact and can actually increase the very “issues” they are intended to resolve and how managing by numbers is not only not supported by the scientific community, but nor can it be considered a reasonable solution, and it absolutely not humane.
In the reply from the Minister, she does not even touch questions regarding the petition or the new wolf management plan that was supposedly being drafted. Instead she simply says "The Management Plan for Wolves in Alberta identifies wolves as a valuable part of a healthy ecosystem and aims to ensure that wolf populations are self-sustaining.”
So would that plan be the one that is decades old and needs an overhaul so that will take into account current science?
The Minister goes onto state that alternative methods are are typically not effective but provides no evidence to refute all the supporting evidence provided to her in our initial letter to her department on the success of alternative methods. "Alternative methods are typically ineffective and can have significant negative implications.”
Of note here, the Minister does not provide anything to back up this statement regarding alternative methods typically not only being ineffective but more importantly she provides no information to support her statement regarding negative implications of alternative methods while completely ignoring all of the attached studies, success stories and viable, successful solutions that were attached to our letter regarding alternative methods.
Rotational grazing, electric fencing, supervision, husbandry, blocking access to habitat and restoring habitat just to name some, none of these things typically work? Just killing predators, that is the only thing that works and that works consistently every single time and gets rid of the issues for good? Interesting.
Now we are going to stop right here and say that it is true that non lethal methods do not work all the time. They will require planning and work in order to be effective and even then nothing is 100%. But let’s look at the flip side of the coin - lethal methods must also be typically ineffective otherwise why do we continue to see predation on livestock, increased wild canid populations in some areas where they have been heavily targeted, increase in predation in some areas, predation where there had been none or relatively little in the past and why have the caribou not recovered substantially in areas where wolf culls have been going on for years? So the Minister is not acknowledging the “negative implications” of the current methods of choice being used by the Government.
She nor her officials acknowledge the Hayes/Harestad study about recolonization where this lethal control has not worked in the past nor will it work now. The Hervieux study clearly shows that killing over 1,000 wolves in the Grande Cache area has not increased the survival rate of mountain nor woodland caribou. Nor will it ever succeed.
Finally, the Minister states that “Localized municipal wolf harvests do not pose a risk to wolf populations, as long as wolves are removed according to existing regulations.” In other words it’s okay to kill them because there are lots of them and yet the Minister offers no answer to our questions as to how many wolves there are at present in Alberta and how these numbers would have been arrived at.
And here is one more interesting thing, the Minister says as long as wolves are removed according to existing regulations. Wait a minute, what regulations are there for bounties?
Municipal wolf bounties are localized municipal harvests but time and time again the Government of Alberta has stated they are not involved with wolf bounties - Minister Phillips admits that they are being done under the approval of GoA supervision when she states they will continue as long as they are done under existing regulations - which are the regulation GoA establishes. She does not acknowledge that she can not devolve that authority down to municipal governments to manage wildlife. So what is it, is the Government involved in bounties, or not?
But really we should not be surprised by any of these comments from the Minister as she also proudly displays beside her smiling face, an instructional sheet on how to make and use snares on her website.
We would have actually had a lot of respect for Minister Phillips if instead of spin doctoring her reply with what she thought we wanted to hear, she had at least been transparent, come clean, told the truth and said:
We recognize that there are alternative methods that could possibly reduce the issues facing caribou and ranchers with livestock and the peer reviewed science behind them. That said however we would like to continue to base our decisions on outdated science if any at all and that we have no intention of changing anything to do with wild life in particular predators because it is too much work, will take too much planning, will include making changes to laws which we don’t feel like doing. We don’t really care all that much about the caribou and their disappearing habitat and are taking the easy route by scapegoat wolves so that it seem like we are doing something as we sort of have to otherwise we will have the Feds on our back, even though a study by the U of A determined that the wolf cull has done little to nothing to recover the caribou. In addition we don’t really care about the changing attitudes of modern Albertans especially those who signed the petition or have called and written to us. Basically it is just easier to let people kill wolves and coyotes so that’s what we are going to do.
You cannot believe what Governments tell you or that they are acting in the best interest of the Province or the people and certainly not the animals that share the land with us.
If you would like to join us in following up with the Minister on some of these and other questions here's here email address -AEP.Minister@gov.ab.ca
We cannot sit idly by otherwise, the lies keep happening, nothing changes and we get what we get.
If you have a chance, visit SWELL Wolf Education Centre in B.C. (Nanaimo). There are so many terrific activities, presentations etc! See more Here: http://whospeaksforwolf.com/?page_id=403
Wolf Matters has been busy teaching again! This is our third group of Beavers learning about the importance of wolves and coyotes! Thank you Teena once again, our super amazing presenter! If interested in a presentation (no matter what age group of people), contact us!
We want to send out a HUGE thank you to Mountain Equipment Co-op Calgary for their generous donation! Wolf Matters was chosen for their Staff Choice award! We are very honored and grateful!!! This donation will help us enhance our current education program as well as help fund upcoming projects this summer as we endeavor on our mission to advocate for better treatment of our wolves, coyotes and other wildlife. THANK YOU MEC!
Our super volunteer educators Teena and Paige talking wolves and coyotes again to another group of amazing kids! If you are interested in our education program, please contact us! Any age, any venue! We love teaching!
Another tremendous turn out for our presentation on wolves and coyotes. Sixty people learning to co-exist and helping dispel myths about wild canids. Thank you so much for coming everyone and thanks so much to our presenter Teena Thomas for her passion and dedication to the wild ones! If you'd like us to present in your community or school, send us a message! More information can be found HERE.
Carleen Ross Professional Artwork
Wolf Matters is pleased to announce that artist Carleen Ross has offered to donate part of her profits from her amazing artwork to various organizations including Wolf Matters. Please check out her store (linked below) and help support some very important causes!
"Art with a Cause: Prints professionally created on Fine art paper.
Donations are made to certain organizations to help with conservation and education."
Store Link: Carleen Ross
Many of you have asked for assistance in what to say to your MLA and others. We have addressed key points for you in the notes. We encourage you to speak with your MLA, call Minister's office, the Premier, follow up with emails, ask for replies. And follow up again. They will try to redirect you and make excuses for their actions but what is happening now, is not working or they would not have to keep culling wolves. Insist on changes. Ask your MLA to truly represent what Albertans are asking for with respect to wildlife and land. Email TV, radio and Editors with your thoughts and concerns. Talk to friends and family and ask them to also get involved. Author Kevin Van Tighem wrote in an article about wolves being classified as a species subject to special management to include
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.
Ever since our press release earlier this week, Wolf Matters has been asked to do interviews for various news outlets in the province. The petition asks for the abolishment of bounties, use of poisons, reduction in hunting and trapping seasons for wolves and protection on Crown lands. Many groups, businesses and people have worked very hard to bring this petition to the Legislature and have it tabled by MLA Cam Westhead and now your help is needed.If you are an Alberta resident you can help to make positive changes in Alberta by contacting your MLA and asking for their support of the changes requested in the petition and by having peer reviewed science as the foundation for the Wolf Management Plan in that province.
Check it out!
(To listen to the TalkRadio 770 interview click on the link and then choose Jan 3, 4:00pm time slot in the drop down box. The interview is at approximately 17:00 mins.)
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