Editor, The Times:
I would like to respond to the article ‘Wolf populations on the rise in the North Thompson’ (Clearwater Times, Jan. 23 issue).
As I haven’t got a whole lot of knowledge regarding the ‘wolf problem,’ the article enticed me to dig into the subject. In this letter I would like to share some of my acquired knowledge as well as my concerns regarding the subject.
As I’ve learned, wolf populations are known to control themselves. When there are too many wolves, pack fertility drops naturally and so do wolf numbers. In areas where wolves are only lightly hunted or trapped, approximately 60 per cent of adult females breed. In areas where they are heavily exploited, up to 90 per cent of females breed, allowing them to produce greater number of pups to counter their losses. As a result, hunting and trapping wolves won’t change their number and therefore managing is a waste of time and money. Moreover, not managing wolves would save lots of them suffering in traps, snares and/or by badly aimed bullets….
Apparently, managing wolf populations is often done at the request of ranchers and under pressure of hunters’ organizations. The latter would rather kill game themselves. As stated in Grant Gale’s article, wolves near Blue River have been eating mountain goats and soon there may not be a hunting season for goat in that area. Poor hunters! Don’t get me wrong; I’m not strictly against hunting. As long as we only take what we need and every part of the animal is used, fine. It has been a way of living since the early days. However, hunting for fun, trophies, only for fur or for managing populations doesn’t seem right to me.
Then there is the issue regarding the local mountain caribou, which might need some ‘intervention’ to protect them. Scientists believe that mountain caribou have declined because of increased habitat fragmentation, predation, and disturbance associated with motorized backcountry recreation (such as snowmobiling, heli-skiing, and cat-skiing). Another emerging threat to mountain caribou is climate change (this will likely affect the current distribution and availability of arboreal lichens). Why blame it all on wolves? In the long term, protecting caribou habitat will be more effective than shooting wolves.
Unfortunately, many of us are still taught to fear and hate the wolves, having grown up on Little Red Riding Hood, The Three Little Pigs and Peter and the Wolf. After my research I really think we should take a better look at our own stake in ‘managing’ nature….
As proven by science, just killing a few wolves won’t change anything. Kill them all, or let them be, seems the only way to deal with any ‘wolf-problems.’
Sources: Furbearer management guidelines from the government of BC, Peterson reference guide to Behavior of North American Mammals, Hunting-trapping synopsis 1012 Government of BC and Handbook of the Canadian Rockies.