Wolf Awareness is a non-profit Canadian organization dedicated to the conservation of wolves through research and public education about wolf ecology.

Wildlife death toll in Alberta’s Little Smoky caribou range climbs

Date: 2nd November 2017

Indiscriminate killing methods destroy species-at-risk and habitat destruction continues

Media Release: GOLDEN, BRITISH COLUMBIA – (Nov 2, 2017) New information revealed through the Freedom of Information process shows that the death tally of wildlife victims in Alberta’s Little Smoky caribou range continues to rise.  Too many animals have been killed under the guise of conserving a herd of roughly 80 caribou in a landscape that is now 96% disturbed by oil, gas and forestry. The number of caribou have not increased in this time.

In addition to 1,000 wolves that have been gunned down from helicopters, poisoned with strychnine or strangled in snares since the Little Smoky wolf-kill experiment began in 2005, a minimum of 1,130 other animals have been killed in areas of Alberta that overlap with declining caribou. This includes approximately 200 healthy moose, deer and elk that were killed and laced with strychnine to be used as draw-baits for wolves in the Little Smoky range.

Records indicate that at least 1 grizzly bear, listed by the province of Alberta as a Threatened species, was accidentally poisoned in the Little Smoky wolf reduction program, along with 253 other non-target scavengers, including lynx, marten, fisher, coyote, raven, skunk, fox, golden eagle and bald eagle.

Strychnine is referred to as a food-chain killer because animals that are killed after consuming this poison become toxic to others that scavenge them. Poisoned animals can also travel before dying. Records provide the minimum number of deaths, as not all carcasses are found or retrieved.

Strychnine causes extreme suffering by attacking the heart and nervous systems, leading to vomiting, violent seizures while conscious and eventually death by asphyxiation.

Between 2000 and 2012, 676 non-target animals were killed in traps set for wolves in and around caribou areas, including two caribou.  No updates have been published since 2014, but snaring continues.

Recently, a spokesperson of Alberta Environment and Parks implied that the province’s plans are required to meet federal Species at Risk Act that forces each province to protect endangered species such as these caribou.  However, adequate habitat protection implemented when caribou declines were noticed decades ago would have precluded wolf killing. Legally mandated range plans outlining adequate habitat protection for caribou herds in Alberta became overdue on October 5th.

“How can this be called conservation?  This is tax-funded indescriminant wildlife slaughter, used to distract Canadians from realizing that there is no solution that can save these caribou while habitat destruction continues.” remarks Sadie Parr, Executive Director of Wolf Awareness. “Current plans leave us with blood oil and blood timber. What habitat restoration is planned is too little, too late.”

Toxicology and veterinary experts, wildlife biologists, conservation and animal welfare organizations are collectively urging Health Canada to deny Alberta’s application to renew its permit to use strychnine to kill wolves, coyotes and black bears. The current permit expires December 31st  2017. A federal re-evaluation of strychnine is underway, with public consultation set for March of 2018.

Canadians need to start engaging now; for remaining animals and ecosystems and for future generations. We launched wehowl.ca/poisonfree to help them do so.” says Parr.  

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Media contacts:

Hannah Barron, Conservation Director, Wolf Awareness Inc  hannah@wolfawarenessinc.org 647 567 8337

Sheryl Fink, Campaign Director, International Fund for Animal Welfare sfink@ifaw.org 519 830 0046.

Dr. Judith Samson-French, DVM, BSc, MSc – Veterinarian – Banded Peak Veterinary Hospital, Bragg Creek, Alberta  judith@pearls365.com  403-949-3249

Dr. Judit Smits, DVM, MVetSc, PhD – Department of Ecosystem and Public Health, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Calgary  jegsmits@ucalgary.ca  403-210-7407

 

Addendum:

Background information on strychnine and campaign to ban it across Canada: http://wolfawarenessinc.org/media-release-coalition-of-organizations-launch-campaign-to-ban-3-deadly-wildlife-poisons/

 Campaign website: www.wehowl.ca/poisonfree

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