Date: 15th July 2016
CANADA (June 21, 2016) — The Alberta government recently announced a draft plan for the recovery of woodland caribou recovery in North and Central Alberta. Part of the plan includes a fencing experiment that would enclose large tracts of former wilderness for caribou and then slaughter many other species found inside. Natural predators such as wolves, as well as deer, elk, and moose would be destroyed. Over decades, most of the areas in question have been converted from wilderness into industrial landscapes.
“The recovery plan proposes a bloodbath so that industry can continue at all costs,” says Sadie Parr, Executive Director of Wolf Awareness Inc. “Outside of these caribou farms, industry will continue to fragment what little is left of caribou habitat into land that supports the very animals targeted for killing.”
Through Canada’s Species At Risk Act (SARA), the Government of Alberta is compelled to contrive a strategy to recover threatened subpopulations of mountain caribou and implement it by 2017. The province released its draft plan for caribou recovery in North and Central Alberta on June 8, 2016. Contained within this proposal are the Government of Alberta’s Draft Little Smoky and A La Peche Caribou Range Plan (June 2, 2016).
Wolf Awareness is encouraging the public to comment on the draft before the August 5th deadline. According to 2012’s federal Recovery Strategy for Caribou, 95% of critical caribou habitat in the Little Smoky already is disturbed by people and their activities. Most of these disturbances are caused by industrial development and infrastructure, including forestry and the energy sector.
Says Parr, “This is not caribou recovery, this is simply Dirty Oil and the world needs to know about it. Although we fully endorse protecting caribou and habitat, widespread killing programs and fenced enclosures are not conservation tools. They are merely tools to preserve tiny island-like farms of caribou on a carved up and impoverished landscape.” Furthermore, she questions, “If caribou are indeed the priority, why is industrial activity planned to continue within essential caribou habitat?”
Dr. Paul Paquet is a world-renowned large carnivore expert and co-author of a recent scientific article titled “Maintaining ethical standards during conservation crises”. He questions the ecological validity of range plans for Little Smokey and A La Peche herds, “These management experiments will destroy entire ecosystems, and many of the animals within, in an attempt to recover several threatened subpopulations of a woodland caribou. I can’t imagine that this was ever the intent of the Species at Risk Act.”
Hannah Barron, a director of Wolf Awareness, emphasizes the lack of scientific rigour behind predator killing components of the proposal, “More than 1000 wolves have been killed under the guise of protecting the Little Smokey Caribou herd over the past 11 years with no significant increase in caribou numbers. Wolves have been strangled, gunned down from helicopters and poisoned using carcasses laced with strychnine. Snares set for wolves also strangled 676 other animals, including 2 caribou.” Recently, the caribou-fencing plan has been justified by proposing that it will help the Alberta government wean itself off killing wolves and using poison. However, predator killing is slated to continue for the next fifty years.
“Poisons have devastating effects on non-target animals that cannot be controlled. Banning horrific poisons strychnine and Compound 1080 is something that should have happened decades ago,” says Paquet. “Although this is a welcome announcement that needs to be carried out across the province, it does not justify the fencing experiment.”
Numerous scientists, conservation organizations, animal welfare groups and people around the world are vehemently opposed to predator kill programs, yet this critical expertise and input is being ignored by decision makers who continue to scapegoat wolves for caribou declines.
Nearly 24,000 people have signed an online petition asking Premier Rachel Notley to end the wolf killing ostensibly being carried out to recover caribou in Alberta.
“Each and every Canadian should hold our government accountable for conservation,” concludes Parr. “Hundreds of interconnected species are facing extinction in our country. Forging ahead with business as usual while scapegoating predators is embarrassing and shameful”.
Wolf Awareness is a non-profit organization (charity # 119301851 RR 001) dedicated to developing positive attitudes towards predators in general, the wolf in particular, and an appreciation of the environment of which all of us are a part. Wolf Awareness is made up of a team of conservationists and scientists whose primary goal is to foster an appreciation for natural predators and broaden the understanding of wolves, ecology, and conservation.
Maintaining ethical standards during conservation crises: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/272153185_Maintaining_ethical_standards_during_conservatio
Witnessing extinction: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/274320654_Witnessing_extinction_-
“Cry Wolf, An Unethical Oil Film” by DeSmogBlog: http://www.desmogblog.com/cry-wolf-unethical-oilstory
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