While not specifically a local matter, we feel some comment on the latest wolf situation is called for. The Bow Valley, after all, is a home for wolves, much like bears, cougars and all manner of other wildlife.
Finally, some 10,000 Albertans have signed a petition calling for a ban on wolf bounties and the use of poison as a means of dealing with so-called problem wolves.
Bounties? Poison? What is this, the 1800s? Are prairie settlers freezing in their sod huts concerned with the big bad wolf killing their milk cow or the sheep they need wool from to survive?
It’s 2017 now – man has been on the moon, we’ve sent probes deep into outer space, some cars can now drive themselves, computers make almost anything possible – and we’re using poison, which will indiscriminately kill anything that ingests it, as a wolf control?
This situation seems like a good opportunity to use science as the last word in regard to wolves, not deep-rooted fears, or concerns for losing some livestock to predation, or just that there are those who enjoy hunting them.
Maybe the problem is, after a search of the Alberta Environment and Parks website, all we could find concerning wolf management, unless it’s well hidden, is from December, 1991 (http://aep.alberta.ca/fish-wildlife/wildlife-management/documents/WildlifeMgmtPlan-Wolves-Dec1991.pdf).
That’s right, 1991; when Brian Mulroney was prime minister, Don Getty was Alberta premier, GST came into effect, Canadian Forces entered the Persian Gulf War, the Argos defeated the Stampeders in the Grey Cup, Rush won a Juno Award for Presto and controversial movie Black Robe was released.
Not surprisingly, something that hasn’t changed is, as stated in the above report, the attitude toward wolf management, in that “public tolerance” for aerial shooting remains low, poisoning is moderate to low, trapper incentives, moderate to high and government trapping, moderate. At the same time, back in ’91, costs associated with the various control methods ranged from $300 to $500 per wolf for aerial shooting, $200 to $300 for poison and $600 to $800 for government trappers, while trapper incentive costs were variable.
Looking back, information from 1991, in almost any field, is unlikely to be taken as the last word.
Since then, of course, many kilometres of oil and gas exploration roads have been cut into wilderness areas, roads which are often referred to as encouraging wolf predation on caribou. Wolves preying on caribou is always pointed out as a reason for culling, but what would be easier for wolves than to lope along oil and gas roads while tracking down caribou?
Would you rather jog along a somewhat developed road, or make your way through thick forest, deadfall and snowdrifts?
As to livestock predation, last we read, there was provincial compensation available for confirmed kills.
The Province states wolf management is tied to saving woodland caribou, but unless something is done about opening vast areas via exploration roads, it’s hard to imagine anything will change, whether the federal government calls for managing caribou habitat or not.
Let’s hope a 10,000-name petition at least sparks further, in-depth scientific research and a reduction in the free-for-all of wolf kills that are currently in vogue.