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.