To the editor:
The British Columbia government is going to slaughter 184 wolves to save 18 caribou.
Once again, the B.C. government is launching a war on wolves. What’s worse is the government knows it won’t work.
In the B.C. wolf management plan, it stated that “The ultimate reason that caribou have declined is likely habitat fragmentation and loss…. To date, B.C.’s wolf management actions have not been successful in meeting mountain caribou recovery objectives.”
The government has tried before to save caribou populations by culling wolves and it hasn’t worked before, it won’t work now. That’s because wolves are not the problem and definitely not the cause of the declining caribou population.
Habitat degradation is the leading cause in the population decline. Things like clear cutting, logging, pipelines, oil sands and recreational activities, such as snowmobiling, are to blame.
Caribou are adapted to living in areas where no other ungulates can survive. This choice of habitat is an important predator-avoidance strategy.
When there is so much habitat loss, it pushes the caribou into smaller areas but higher concentrations, which makes them easy targets for predators. Not to mention that the clear cutting and road building certainly makes travelling for hunting easier for the wolves.
Furthermore, the habitat loss and fragmentation alters their habitat to start increasing the growth of shrubs. This opens up new territory for other ungulate species, such as deer, elk and moose.
Wolves will follow their main food source, and this new territory is often where they end up, which increases the predation on caribou as a result.
In addition to this, wolves are highly intelligent creatures with very complex social relationships, much like humans. When a pack member is killed, it disrupts the entire pack, and research shows that as a result it can increase reproductive rates in wolves and destabilizes pack structure causing more predation of livestock and other non-native prey.
The B.C. government will continue to use scientifically unsound reasons to scapegoat the wolf to divert attention from the fundamental problem of ongoing habitat degradation by major industries.