Issues Faced by Alberta Wolves
Despite being condemned internationally and banned in many countries, toxicants like strychnine and compound 1080 are still being used by the Alberta government on wolves. The use of poisons has been widely criticized by scientists because they are inhumane, they are non selective, and they are in contravention of animal welfare guidelines.
Wolf Culls by the Alberta Caribou Recovery Plan
Over the past seven years, more than 800 wolves in the Little Smoky region have been gunned down from helicopters, poisoned with strychnine and strangled by snares, all under the guise of protecting Alberta's endangered caribou. Despite this 7 year cull, the caribou herd remains critically threatened. This is because the caribou live in a habitat that is 95 per cent disturbed by oil and gas development and the province has knowingly allowed these industries to destroy essential caribou habitat for years. Many biologists and wildlife experts consider these killing methods as inhumane and unethical. Additionally, snares intended for wolves "accidentally" killed at least 676 other animals, including two caribou and strychnine meant for wolves killed many other species, some of which likely have gone undocumented.
Bounties & Predator Killing Contests
In Alberta, wolf bounties are proliferating despite the long-standing, science-based proof that they do not work. There are currently two types of bounties in Alberta: municipal bounties and private bounties (both unregulated). Oftentimes, bounties can include the killing of pups. Predator hunting tournaments or contests are also becoming increasingly popular and, according to the government, are permitted because the populations of predators, like wolves and coyotes, are not under threat.
Coexistence and Human Conflict
Wolves typically hunt for wild animals such as deer and elk, however they will occasionally prey on livestock when the opportunity arises. If a wolf becomes seriously habituated to preying on livestock, the wolf is often killed as a result. Most incidents of depredation are avoidable and many ranches throughout North America practice effective non lethal methods to avoid conflict with predators. Removing attractants like dead or dying livestock, use of canine or equine guard animals (dogs, donkeys), ranch riders, electric fencing, wild life corridors, and other technological deterrents have been proven to work. Currently, farmers and ranchers are given the express right to kill wolves on sight if close to their property. This includes animals that have not preyed upon livestock. Interestingly, recent studies have found that killing a wolf can actually increase the risk that wolves will prey on livestock in the future. As quoted from the AWA , "...the Alberta government cites the substantial overall Alberta wolf population as its rationale for dodging its responsibility to redirect wolf predation concerns into effective deterrent and management practices".
Snaring, Trapping & Liberal Hunting Seasons
Wolves in Alberta are hunted 10 months out of the year from the beginning of the first large animal hunt to the end of the spring bear hunt. This means they are hunted while they still have pups. Additionally, there is no bag limit. Despite the general conception that snares are quick lethal killing devices, past studies have demonstrated that manual and power killing neck snares were inadequate to consistently and quickly render canids unconscious. Furthermore, snares are non-selective, and impact seriously on the welfare of non-target animals. Leg hold traps also cause suffering, and many times animals will chew their own limbs off to try and escape. Every year, domestic animals, and other non target species are caught in these traps and are considered collateral damage.
Anti-Wolf Hysteria/Wolf Persecution
Anti wolf hysteria is a phenomenon that can be defined as the widespread public hatred of wolves. It often incorporates both the wolfs enduring role as the evil/dangerous/bad character, such as in folklore and fairy tales (Three Little Pigs and Little Red Riding Hood), as well as societal attitudes favouring policies of active persecution of wolves, and opposition and resistance to policies aiming to protect existing wild populations, or reintroduce the species into former ranges where it has become extinct. Fierce, and often aggressively negative perceptions of wolves have a long history in western (and many other) cultures which gives rise to the myths that seem to persist throughout the decades. Anti-wolf fanatics have launched a campaign to demonise the wolf. In a crusade to win over the hearts and minds of people in an attempt to increase wolf persecution. The warped biases against wolves and persistent myths that lead to this culturally induced hysteria can be linked to poaching and other unethical hunting behaviours/actions.