Wolf culls and Woodland Caribou

Check out this article – a good summary and perspective on some controversial work that has recently come out of the Boutin lab.

Some additional words from Emma Marris that didn’t make the 700 word cut:

A spokesperson for Alberta Energy, Natasha McKenzie, said, “the actual approval to go in and actually drill is AER.” A spokesperson for AER, Bob Curran, blamed Alberta Energy, saying, “If the province of Alberta sells mineral rights, what they are saying is you are okay to develop. By the time it comes to us, that policy decision has already been made.”

Kyle Fawcett, Minister of Environment and Sustainable Resource Development, said that current reduced level of timber and oil and gas activity, combined with wolf control, is holding caribou populations in the province stable while the details of the range plan are hammered out. “The premise our range plan is that this is a working landscape. There are multi-millions of dollars worth of investments; you don’t just sterilize them overnight.”

But while Fawcett says the province plans to keep oil and gas and timber active in the area, under the forthcoming range plan there will be “significant changes in how industry operates.”

Animal rights advocates were shocked to learn from the study the high number of wolves killed each year. Mark Bekoff, a retired ecologist and advocate of “compassionate conservation,” says even studying these wolf kills was unethical. “I just would have said, I am not partaking,” he says. And he says the killing would not be justified even if it were the only way to save Little Smoky caribou. “If you claim that killing the wolves is the only way than caribou can rebound, then the caribou have to go,” he says.

Such a triage approach is also supported by industry. Brad Stevens, Vice President of Western Canada Operations for the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers says, “It makes sense apply resources in the areas with the greatest effect. The woodland caribou are right across Canada.”


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