CANADA'S WOLF-KILLING PROGRAMS
Help end western Canada's Wolf Killing Programs under the guise of caribou recovery.
Wolves in Canada are running out of places to hide. In Alberta and British Columbia, wolves are chased by helicopters until they are exhausted, and then shot, often multiple times. The tax-funded killing programs are being carried out under the guise of caribou conservation. But killing isn't conservation...
These provinces have knowingly allowed industry to destroy caribou habitat for 50 years. Activities such as energy development, logging, mining and high-impact recreation continue in critical caribou habitat. As a consequence of our neglect, the government has sanctioned the killing of one species to save another. Wolves are being scapegoated to industrial interests for resource extraction; kill programs have been expanding across both provinces. Predator kill programs are ethically unacceptable, outdated & ineffective as a long-term solution. Critical caribou habitat is still being compromised by human use.
Are we prepared to spend the next several decades shooting wolves from helicopters in a vain attempt to maintain small herds of caribou in degraded habitat? Killing wolves will impact far more than wolves and caribou, as an apex predator wolves have an invaluable role in ecosystem regulation.
Watch this film about Alberta’s conservation dilemma in “Cry Wolf, An Unethical Oil Film” by DeSmogBlog.
This is also a question of animal welfare. The morality of causing harm to hundreds of intelligent and sensitive animals for any reason should be questioned.
In some killing programs, wolves are fitted with tracking radio collars to unwittingly betray the location of their packs when they return home. Entire wolf families are then chased and shot from the air. These wolves are often kept alive to suffer year after year.
In light of expanding harm, Wolf Awareness developed the following Policy Position:
Wolf Awareness Policy Position on wolf kill programs underway in Western Canada
● Scientific evidence confirming the efficacy of wolf kill programs that are intended to benefit ungulates is equivocal. The notion that a period of intensive wolf control will stabilize declining populations of caribou that are limited by habitat and result in long-term increases in the density of these populations is uncertain. During the time needed to recover lost and degraded caribou habitat, thousands of wolves would need to be killed in a questionable attempt to prevent caribou extirpation. Further, long-term and wide-scale killing of wolves can cause ecosystem wide adverse ecological effects, impairing many plants and animals.
● In making moral judgments, science can inform, but it does not give permission to cause harm and suffering. People tend to regard harm and suffering as more serious if it is deliberate (e.g. recreational and institutional killing of wolves), but sometimes justifiable if done for a seemingly worthy purpose. However, principled justifications invoking science, which are used to sanctify harmful and inhumane practices, are not ethical rationales for killing wolves.
● BC and Alberta are the only two Canadian provinces that have not adopted the Canadian Council on Animal Care (CCAC) standards that ensure humane killing methods for wild and domestic animals. That these 2 provinces refuse to act in accordance with this national standard and continue to carry out inhumane killing of wolves is deeply concerning.
Wildlife management and conservation practices should be ecologically and ethically sound. Wolf killing programs are neither and as such should be abandoned.
- Approved by the Board of Directors June 2018
Since 2005 in Alberta, more than 2,500 wolves have been killed under the guise of protecting caribou, beginning in the Little Smoky Caribou herd range where more than 95% of habitat has been disturbed by human activity for industrial resource extraction, mostly oil and gas.
Likewise, British Columbia has [inhumanely] killed more than 1,200 wolves since 2015, yet the province continues to log and recreate in caribou habitat.
The methods used to kill wolves are inhumane. Alberta's wolves are being killed in strangling snares, gunned down from helicopters and poisoned with Strychnine. Non-targeted wildlife victims are also dying horribly due to the indiscriminate nature of poison and snares. British Columbia's wolves experience a similar fate, except that poison is not used.
As caribou declines accelerate in Canada, wolves are once again being scapegoated in attempts to protect oil and gas, mining, forestry, and recreational activities. We urge provincial and federal political parties, politicians, and all special interests who support wolf kill programs under the guise of caribou conservation to review studies on predator control and environmental ethics and reconsider their position on killing predators as an unethical means to achieve the conservation of endangered caribou. The public, decision-makers, many wildlife managers, and apologists fail to distinguish between existence of caribou and long-term persistence of the ecological systems on which the caribou depend. Intact ecological systems are characterized by the species that inhabit them and by the ecological functions and processes that link species with their environment (e.g. food, security, thermal regulation, migration, predator-prey relationships). Although species can continue to exist after natural ecological relationships have been altered or destroyed, most ecologists understand that such systems are not sustainable and not representative of healthy environments or successful conservation.
Did wolves do this?
Case example in British Columbia
In 2007, the province of BC released scientific recommendations for caribou habitat protection in the Revelstoke-Shuswap area in the Draft Mountain Caribou Recovery Strategy which included protecting 34,000 hectares. But for economic reasons, the government chose to protect less than 10,000 hectares.
In 2011, the government amended the Revelstoke Land Use Plan to allow timber companies to log a minimum of 6,000 hectares of old-growth forests to compensate for what they had lost to protection of caribou. Eventually, the recommended 34,000 hectares of provincially protected habitat that scientists deemed necessary to maintain and recover imperiled caribou declined to less than 4,000 hectares.
Where the caribou lost critical and life-sustaining habitat, the logging companies gained more timber to cut. Even B.C.’s Forest Practices Board admitted the new areas opened to logging would reduce and fragment the already inadequate habitat, making recovery of caribou unlikely.
Despite ongoing objections from worried NGOs co-operating in the Mountain Caribou Project, protected habitat was reduced year after year. Although never protecting sufficient habitat to support caribou in the long-term, the province’s caribou recovery plan is still portrayed by the government as a great conservation commitment approved at the expense of industrial interests.
We believe experimental wolf kill programs are unwarranted and unethical, and should be replaced with adequate habitat protection.
Check out the recent Timeline of BC Caribou and Wolf Mismanagement,1954-2018.
Read this article co-authored by Wolf Awareness and the Raincoast Conservation Foundation titled “Alberta Must Call a Truce on Wolves“.
Death by a Thousand Clearcuts, a website dedicated "to bear witness to designer extinction in Canada" and chronicle the deliberate destruction of habitat in the Upper Clearwater Valley of British Columbia; logging within federally designated Critical Habitat for Caribou near Wells Gray Park.
Use the Google Earth Time Lapse Tool to see the habitat changes that have occurred in these areas. Wolves have not caused these changes, we have. A question remains: even if we were willing to restore these areas, could they ever fully recover to what they once were?