White Wolf Sanctuary
PO Box 65
Tidewater, OR 97390
BY STEPHEN HUME, VANCOUVER SUN COLUMNIST AUGUST 5, 2011
It now appears British Columbia is officially declaring total war on wolves in the Cariboo and Chilcotin — a region which covers about one-third of the province — on the basis of “anecdotal information.”
As Larry Pynn reported in The Sun earlier this week, the decision doesn’t appear to be based on science or research.
Some won’t like the use of the term “total war,” preferring comforting euphemisms like “open season” or “predator control.”
However, it all comes down to the same thing.
Without benefit of any real science, we’re now going to permit anybody who so wishes in these “management areas” to shoot as many wolves as they like, whenever they like, wherever they like, for whatever reason they like.
Furthermore, to rid ourselves of this “anecdotal” scourge, we’re going to permit unlimited trapping of wolves on private land using leghold traps.
Leghold traps have been banned in Europe since 1991 because of the cruelty they impose on their prey, which will chew off their own limbs in the attempt to escape.
If the traps aren’t checked frequently, animals caught in them starve or batter themselves to death.
The Humane Society of Canada denounces leghold traps for their infliction of unnecessary pain and suffering.
In addition, the organization says, leghold traps don’t discriminate. This primitive 18th-century technology is as lethal to a dog or an endangered badger as it is to a wolf.
Please note the irony of a government that rushed to launch an inquiry into the cruel treatment of sled dogs at Whistler but which now sanctions the indiscriminate infliction of cruelty upon the sled dogs’ wild cousins — and any other creature with the misfortune to encounter a “wolf” trap.
This seems an odd way for wildlife biologists to behave, but then, when science does the bidding of government it’s often not principles that drive the process but politics.
And the most meddlesome politicians tend to be those who inform themselves anecdotally — as a B.C. cabinet once said of himself — by sitting firmly on the fence while keeping both ears to the ground.
What this hip-pocket policy doesn’t explain is the basis for the decision — beyond “anecdotal information” advancing special interests.
I spent a whole morning trying to obtain non-anecdotal statistics about livestock mortalities due to wild predators. Information about the province’s predator compensation program, which pays for animals killed by wildlife was curiously inaccessible on provincial government websites, although one could easily get information about compensation for separating wildlife excreta from crops and so on.
The best data I could find that wasn’t anecdotal was a reference to a federal agency which reported that in 2008 and 2009 the total livestock in B.C. killed by wolves amounted to 70 animals.
Another provincial study from 2003 reported that between five and eight per cent of all livestock losses in the province are caused by wild predators — which would suggest that between 92 and 95 per cent of livestock losses are caused by other factors like disease, toxic forage, calving problems, bad weather, getting hung up in barbed wire fences, hit by vehicles or killed and butchered by rustlers.
These numbers seemed consistent with a study done in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming. It found less than three per cent of livestock mortalities were caused by large predators, including wolves.
If this research data is accurate, it contradicts anecdotal evidence cited to justify declaring total war on one predator species across a third of B.C.
On the other hand, if we’re going to accept anecdotal evidence to justify an indiscriminate wolf kill, I have anecdotal reports of other public threats that Premier Christy Clark should be addressing.
First, I hear anecdotal reports about alligators in the sewers; giant blind alligators slithering beneath our feet. Something must be done!
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