A couple of well-known celebrities – American pop star Miley Cyrus and B.C.-born actress Pamela Anderson – have been speaking out against our province’s contentious wolf cull program.
The province implemented the wolf cull program with the purpose of protecting caribou herds under threat from wolf predation. The province planned to kill up to 180 wolves this year by shooting them from a helicopter, but bad weather and a low snowpack created some difficult conditions. In the end, 84 wolves were killed. While Miley Cyrus called on her approximately 28 million Instagram followers to sign a petition against the wolf cull, Pamela Anderson published an open letter to Premier Christy Clark condemning the program.
I think it’s safe to say that the premier’s response was anything but classy. During a press conference, Clark responded to both women by mocking their tendency to wear revealing outfits.
“There is another thing they have in common – both Pamela Anderson and Miley Cyrus, when they open up their closets they probably don’t find a lot of clothes,” said Clark.
Yes, Miley Cyrus and Pamela Anderson might not be experts on wolves or habitat management (and you might not even like their music or acting skills). Nevertheless, they are human beings who share the concerns of millions of people around the world – including experts – who feel that the science behind this contentious program simply does not add up. So they at least deserve to be treated with respect and not to be dismissed based on their wardrobe choices.
Our premier could have provided a real answer to those two women without having to insult them. Besides, discussing how our decisions and actions impact the environment should be at the top of our list. Conservation scientist Chris Darimont of the University of Victoria said in a Canadian Press story published by the Huffington Post that wolves are not the main reason why the caribou population has been threatened. Darimont said successive governments have permitted forest, oil and gas and other resource companies to destroy and encroach on caribou habitat, and now that some herds are on the brink of extinction, wolves are made the scapegoat. It was very interesting to cover this story because the ministry of forests, lands and natural resource operations explained to me that the decision to implement the wolf cull was based on “science and peer-reviewed studies.”
And of course, their logic makes perfect sense – if wolves are killing caribou, and caribou is an endangered species, we will sacrifice a couple of hundred wolves to save the caribou.
The only problem with that logic is that nature might not work the same way as the human logic. Humans see and measure the world a certain way, sometimes forgetting that all systems are connected and making decisions without fully comprehending those complex connections. I am not entirely sure that our ecosystems function the same way as our limited brains can conceive, and I am not entirely sure that we understand the ripple effect that our interventions can cause on our planet.
Sadie Parr, Executive Director of the non-profit group Wolf Awareness, explained that wolves are social animals, more than just numbers. He said allowing wolves to express their natural social behaviour benefits the wider ecosystem.
“Sustainable numbers do not necessarily mean that a wolf population is thriving nor functioning naturally,” said Parr. “Their social bonds and kin-based families define what it means to be a wolf.”
So yes, science and logic make perfect sense, but do we really know how killing a couple of hundred wolves will impact the wider ecosystem?