Biologists Claim Controlling Wolf Population Won't Save the Caribou
Wolf management problems appear to be universal, and biologists have various ideas on how to manage the growing wolf populations that threaten wildlife, such as the caribou. In the fall of 2008 a University of Alberta scientist Evelyn Merrill, wanted to sterilize members of wolf packs in the Rocky Mountain House Area. Sterilizing seemed like a humane way of reducing the wolf packs' populations, which would also reduce the predators for elk and caribou in the area. This idea sparked debates, and was never used. Instead Alberta has spent over a million dollars on strychnine for poisoning and shooting them from the air, which some see as more humane than the sterilization experiment.
Biologists claim, wolves have long been used as scapegoats for wildlife management problems such as the one that the Alberta government is facing with caribou. Those in charge of management are trying to reduce the wolves numbers, this is an ongoing issue in animal management. Initially, bounties were used to encourage people to kill wolves. Then it was poison and leghold traps. In extreme cases, some jurisdictions sent men out to dig out dens and strangle the pups that were in them. In Jasper National Park, where wolves are protected there are a moderate number of packs, compared to the Little Smoky Region where they are trapped, poisoned and shot, the number of wolves is rapidly growing. The scientists and biologists believe that now they have a better idea on the numbers, and reducing the packs by percentage, but if there is a food source the wolf population thrives.
Managing the wolves will have to continue, if there is any hope for the caribou's survival, but it is not the only key to the equation. Habitat needs to be conserved for the caribou as well, without piecing it apart for roads and development. From the Montreal Gazette.