Issues Facing Wolves in Alberta
ALBERTA’S WAR ON WOLVES
by Dwight Rodtka
Over the past two years, there have been several articles in newspapers and magazines regarding the wolf and grizzly predation problems on cattle in the southwestern part of the province and the Smoky River caribou herd. Apart from these two issues, one would not know there is a wolf in the province and almost no one realizes the kind of “management” they live under. If we read about the provinces plan for wolves one would think they were made of gold, but as with so many things, you should take a moment and look at what they are doing rather than just listening to what they say. For wolves, it’s quite enlightening.
Did you know that any land owner or grazing lease holder or anyone authorized by same can hunt and kill wolves twelve months of the year? A lease holder or whoever he authorizes can hunt an additional eight km onto public land around his lease whether or not he has ever had an animal even frightened by a wolf. If you are a hunter you can hunt wolves during any open season for any animal – approximately nine months from August to June. There is no limit on the number of wolves which can be killed by any means throughout the province. In government “speak” this would be maximizing sport hunting opportunities and giving producers the tools to protect their livelihood.
Trappers have more than generous seasons as well, even trapping when the fur is not close to being prime. Wolf season is open October 1 to March 30, perhaps so trappers can take advantage of the many bounties available. Registered trappers are supposed to check traps every 48 hours and resident trappers every 24 hours.
We wonder how often, if ever, compliance checks are done? If trappers choose to use snares, they can set them on December 1 and check them March 30, with no mandatory check time. It is through this system that the vast majority of wolves are taken in Alberta—a system that fits in well with the bounties available (whether or not the fur is salvaged).
Alberta Fish and Wildlife culling and control programs can get excessive too. The Smoky River culling debacle has likely cost the lives of at least a thousand wolves. The use of strychnine and aerial gunning means that a high percentage of wolves are never found.
With cattle predation occurring in the spring and summer, Alberta Fish and Wildlife usually undertake their poison campaign in January and February (contrary to their policy). Their poison program does not target problem pack removal, but is a very crude attempt at population reduction. If there had been predation problems prior to the campaign, those responsible might be have been replaced by new individuals.
In one ongoing situation, well over thirty wolves have been killed during a five-year period. This poison campaign is the result of four to eleven cattle being taken.
Killing wolves is very expensive to the Alberta taxpayer—not only are the farmers fully compensated for all losses, we also pay Fish and Wildlife staff to spend time setting and maintaining these baits stations. At a time when Fish and Wildlife resources have been seriously underfunded, is poisoning wolves a good use of public resources?
As a final blow, our government allows any person or any group without reason to secretly put a bounty on wolves. The only stipulation with regards to bounties is that the animals must be killed “legally.” The bottom line is to slaughter as many wolves as possible. This approach to wildlife management is why The Wyoming Sheep Foundation, Alberta Fish and Game Association and the Alberta Trappers Association—along with several municipalities—have placed $300-$500 bounties on wolves. There is no oversight to this program, and the public is not privy to any information about private programs! How many thousands of wolves have these programs killed? For what reason? By who? Who cares? Despite all this wolf killing, the government has recently increased wolf population estimates from a previous 4,250 to 7,000. When and how was this census done? My own observations are that wolves have declined in the last twenty years as has their prey, with fewer and smaller packs and more single wolves.
It is time that we demand that our government regains control of wolf management in Alberta!
The Truth About Snares
by Dwight Rodtka
Learn about these barbaric torture devices
Strychnine - A Terrible Way to Die
Dr Haigh writes - The debate, seldom polite, often vigorous, about the wolf and its presence among us often becomes a “to poison or not to poison” matter. The subject waxes and wanes, but today, in parts of Alberta and British Columbia, indeed in many parts of North America, it is indeed the question, and strychnine is the apparent sling and arrow. I suspect that most people who espouse the poisoning route have never seen the effects of this deadly substance on any animal. Unfortunately I have.
Read the rest of his article and learn about what strychnine really does..
Bounties in Alberta - What They Don't Want Us to Know!