Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Canada responds to caribou decline with plan to kill wolves

Woodland caribou herds in Canada are declining, and tar sands development is a big part of the reason why. But Canada’s national and provincial governments know what do about that: Kill the wolves.

That’s the crux of new posts by both Grist and the National Wildlife Federation, which are following this issue. Both are revisiting the environmental costs of tar sands development in Alberta.

The federation cites numerous studies released in 2011 that found that oil and gas development in Canada is contributing to the decline of woodland caribou herds. Both the national government and the province of Alberta acknowledge that tar sands development adversely affects the herds.

Environment Canada, the country’s national environmental agency, announced in fall 2011 that a draft of a nationwide caribou recovery plan – which is not yet in effect – would include plans to cull the wolf population near the three herds that are directly affected by the tar sands development. Environment minister Peter Kent was quoted in numerous stories acknowledging that "thousands" of wolves might need to be killed. Many stories have focused on the use of strychnine poisoning and aerial hunting to kill the wolves.

Officials in Alberta, however, want to emphasize that this program has not yet begun and, while wolves are currently controlled in the province, that images of a wholesale wolf slaughter are overblown. Read More