Wild Tracks

On behalf of the world's wild species

Category Archives: Canidae

Canadian Government Slaughtering Wolves In Favour Of Oilsands

The deadline for Canadians to comment on the federal government’s massive wolf-kill caribou recovery strategy is February 22, 2012. For most Alberta boreal woodland caribou herds, the wolf-kill strategy would allow 95% of their habitat to be destroyed. Tar sands and other oil-gas activities in those herds’ ranges would not be disturbed. Alberta Wilderness Association (AWA) is inviting Canadians to ask Environment Minister Peter Kent to protect the habitat caribou require for long-term survival and recovery, rather than encouraging decades-long poisoning and shooting of many thousands of wolves.

“Because of ongoing mismanagement of caribou habitat, Environment Canada’s data shows Alberta’s herds are by far the most vulnerable to being wiped out in all of Canada,” says Carolyn Campbell, AWA conservation specialist. “This proposal will allow 95% habitat loss and many decades of massive scale wolf kills, for most Alberta herds. This is an absurd and deeply unethical strategy that sacrifices both wolves and caribou to unmanaged energy industry growth.”

In the name of caribou recovery, hundreds of wolves have already been poisoned and shot from helicopters in northwestern Alberta. The federal government’s draft caribou recovery strategy is now calling for a massive expansion of this approach. “There is no reason to think that killing wolves will recover caribou,” says Campbell. “Only protecting caribou habitat will achieve that.”

In healthy forests, wolf predation does not significantly affect caribou, points out Campbell. “These caribou are spread thinly across the landscape and do not support wolf populations in themselves,” she says. Industrial development upsets this fine balance, bringing in larger numbers of other prey such as deer and moose and creating easy access corridors for wolves, resulting in more caribou being killed by wolves. Scientific studies agree that the only long-term solution for caribou is to have enough intact habitat to allow them to remain separated from deer, moose and wolves.

AWA asks Canadians to call on Environment Minister Kent to set sensible limits on forest disturbance in caribou ranges, and restore necessary habitat, as the first focus of the recovery strategy, rather than encourage massive wolf kills.

For more information:
Carolyn Campbell, conservation specialist, Alberta Wilderness Association 

Community Office Ottawa Office
7600 Yonge Street Peter Kent
Thornhill, Ontario 401 Confederation Building
L4J 1V9 House of Commons
Phone:  (905) 886.9911 Ottawa, Ontario. K1A 0A6
FAX:  (905) 886.5267 Phone: (613) 992.0253
Fax: (613) 992.0887
eMail: kentp@parl.gc.ca

Wolf Conservation Helps Songbirds

The world’s large predators – bears, tigers, lions – are in trouble. They are disappearing worldwide, on a fast slide towards extinction. The smaller carnivores of the world are on the same slide, just at a slower rate.

Scientific consensus is now emerging to show these animals are crucial to the functioning of a healthy ecosystem. Food chain effects caused by adding or removing a top species are known as “trophic cascades,” and evidence is accumulating:

-overhunting of sea otters caused the collapse of kelp forests, as without predation by otters, the sea urchin population exploded and the feed on kelp

-when jaguars and pumas fled a valley flooded by construction of a dam in Venezuela, howler monkeys multiplied out of control and went mad as the plants they ate increased toxins in self defense

-the wolf’s return to Yellowstone National Park and their predation on elk gave willow and other trees the chance to grow along streams, cooling water temperatures for trout and encouraging the return of the beaver, whose ponds are vital for songbirds and amphibians

-a reduction of lion and leopard populations in Ghana led to an explosion of baboons that attacked livestock, damaged crops and spread internal parasites to the human population

It’s not just the loss of the large predators that can have an effect on human health. Small wild cats, birds of prey, coyotes and other carnivores feed on mice and rats that destroy crops and spread disease.

In spite of all the scientific evidence, governments in many countries – among them Canada and the USA (wolves) and Argentina (puma) – are still adamant that predators be wiped out. They are still  the scapegoats for anything that goes wrong in nature, and their removal is the first knee-jerk reaction taken by officials.

It’s time governments started acknowledging the scientific evidence showing we have to pay attention to the well being of predators if we want healthy ecosystems, and a healthy planet.

See also:

The Crucial Role of Predators 

Trophic Downgrading of Planet Earth

Trophic Cascades