Here we go again . . . how many times are we going to have this debate? When will the government and the B.C. Cattleman’s Association pull their heads out of the sand?
It has been documented, researched and proven time and time again that large culls, slaughters or harvests do nothing to control the wolf population and it absolutely does nothing to address the caribou population.
I’m so sick of hunters saying we need to kill wolves to save caribou and then pressure our ignorant government into ridiculous “solutions.” I’ve been researching and following wolf research by leading scientists all around the globe for the past decade and can tell you the
biggest threat to the caribou is humans.
If wolves could decimate an entire species like the caribou, it would have already been done by now. The decline in the caribou population is directly related to human development. Predators shouldn’t be punished for man’s self-interested ignorance.
Caribou are adapted to living in areas where no other ungulates can live: dense forests.
This choice of habitat is an important predator avoidance strategy.
Logging and clear cutting alter their habitat and increase shrubs while taking out the dense forests, which in turn increases other ungulate populations and forces caribou out.
They are pushed into smaller habitat, resulting in higher population densities and therefore become easier prey.
Man’s continued encroachment on wildlife habitat is the cause for the decline. In fact, wolves are apex predators, which means their presence has a direct affect on other species.
Wolves keep ungulate populations moving, which helps to keep forests regrowing new trees. In turn, that provides more food for ungulates, more nesting sites for birds, more trees for beavers — all the way down to the bugs on creek beds.
Since the eradication of wolves (or huge slaughter of populations), coyotes have rapidly reproduced and actually cause more livestock kills than any other species. With wolves in the picture, they compete with the coyotes and help keep this population in check.
As for ranchers, I understand the devastation both economically and otherwise when losing even just one animal to predation. Wolves, however, are the last culprit.
Since 2003, livestock predation from wolves has decreased by 30 per cent; predation from coyotes is almost 10 times that of wolves.
Bears and cougars also contribute losses before wolves. The biggest cause of livestock mortality at a whopping 60 per cent, however, is disease, followed by exposure. Wolves only account for two per cent of livestock mortality.
Livestock predation is a problem. However, wiping out a species based on inaccurate assumptions is not the solution.
There are many other methods of controlling predators and also different methods of animal husbandry that can greatly reduce the conflict between ranchers and wolves — if not all predators.
But when you add the incentive of compensation to ranchers for wolf kills, it’s easy to see why they’d be more interested in an open season rather than to learn and practice other methods.
But I guess our government would rather listen to its ranching and hunting lobbyists instead of the many scientists proving them wrong. It’s all about the money and politics.