A wildlife conservation group wants to shed light on the Alberta government’s inhumane and ineffective predator control strategies.
Sadie Parr, Executive Director of Wolf Awareness, based in Golden, B.C., wants the public to know that the Alberta government is poisoning wolves in the name of caribou protection, but the program is neither effective nor humane.
“Indiscriminate killing is no form of wildlife management,” Parr said.
Since 2005, 190 wolves in the Little Smoky area have been poisoned by strychnine, a deadly and notoriously painful toxic alkaloid which attacks the neurological system and causes violent convulsions before death by asphyxiation. A coalition of conservation groups are sounding the alarm that the Alberta government sanctioned those cruel killings instead of tackling the real problem: habitat erosion by resource extraction.
“Killing wolves has become a smoke screen. It takes away from the bottom line, which is that we have to stop destroying caribou habitat,” she said.
It has been three decades since Alberta Fish and Wildlife released a a provincial caribou recovery plan which showed woodland caribou were at “immediate risk of extirpation as a result of habitat change related to logging and other industrial activities.” Despite many other similar pronouncements and reports, the Little Smoky region—7,200 square kilometres between Hinton and Jasper National Park containing the last significant pockets of wilderness in the boreal forest—remains only two per cent protected. Energy industry surface disturbance, such as roads, wells, seismic lines and pipeline corridors, enables predators to travel easily into formerly remote areas of caribou range.
On October 5, the provincial government failed to meet its deadline to develop range plans that protect critical caribou habitat, as required by Canada’s five-year-old recovery strategy for boreal caribou. Parr hopes Albertans will hold their government more accountable to another deadline: on December 31, the province’s five year permit for strychnine to kill wolves, coyotes and black bears expires. Coinciding with this, the poison will undergo federal re-evaluation, with the public comment period officially opening in March.
“The critical message is really surrounding strychnine,” Parr said. “Strychnine has been described as one of the most cruel, painful ways humans have devised to kill someone or something.”
It’s also a food-chain killer. More than 240 individuals of non-target species, including ravens, coyotes, foxes, lynx, eagles and grizzly bears have been killed with strychnine in Little Smoky, according to government numbers accessed via FOIP.
“Each victim becomes toxic bait for the next scavenger,” Parr said. “Strychnine was banned in the U.S. as a predator-killing agent due to environmental hazards in 1972.”
See www.wehowl.ca/poisonfree for more information.