A Wolf Solution - Wolf Week Wrap-up

As my self-proclaimed Wolf Week here on my blog and on my Facebook photography page winds to a close, I wanted to thank all of you for your support and feedback and offer up some final words as potential solutions to the problems wolves face in Alberta, British Columbia, Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho.

It saddens me that in today's more enlightened, environmentally-conscious society we still legally allow wolves to be snared, trapped, baited, called-in, chased, and shot with impunity across vast swaths of our wild regions (just last Wednesday, Montana's governor swore in a new bill continuing to allow wolf hunting on Yellowstone's border claiming that the new bill was supported by "sound science"). It's incredulous that two main lobby groups, sport hunters and ranchers, have wielded such power over the political process when it comes to wolf management (an oxymoron if ever there was one in the northwest!), creating this battleground that festers now between wolf lovers and wolf haters.

What does the future hold for our wild wolves?

I knew a week ago that I wanted to direct this Wolf Week series of blog and facebook posts towards an end goal: to get people like you to help demand change from our state and provincial wildlife managers and agencies in how our wild wolves are perceived, treated, and managed.

But before I get to that, I wanted to quickly recap the past week's posts for those of you that are just finding this for the first time:

On Day 1, Wolf Snares in my Backyard tackled a local problem here in the Rockies where Conservation Officers recently set out wolf snares intended to choke wolves (and anything else unfortunate enough to get ensnared -- including your family dog) to death on public crown land, effectively using our taxpayer dollars to fund a private business (a ranch) on public land because the business had complained about a small, neighbouring wolf pack (meanwhile, here in Canmore, I complained about having other photographers competing with me and so far not a single one of them has been snared by the government, go figure!).

On Day 2, A Wolf Kill Contest Update looked (once) again at the barbaric wolf kill contest in Fort St. John, B.C. that I covered back in November and December and noted that Pacific Wild, a British Columbia environmental organization headed by friends of mine, is threatening to challenge the contest's legality in court. [Thank you to everyone who donated to Pacific Wild's cause, if anyone would still like to donate, you can do so here -- I'd love to see even more of you match my donation of $250.  For Americans that would like to donate to a worthy cause in the U.S., please consider donating to WildEarth Guardians or to WolfWatcher.]

On Day 3, I stepped away from the bad news for a day and showed off some wild wolf pictures along with a few stories in a post entitled, My Favourite Wolves.

Day 4 was back to the issues at hand, as Debunking the Wolf-Livestock Myth took an in-depth look at the lies behind the cattle industry's blatant war on wolves across the northwest. The science and data all point to the same conclusion: wolves are not a threat to the livestock industry.

And finally, Day 5 was perhaps the most contentious post of the week, as Hunting and the Big Bad Wolf examined the slippery slope of half-truths and misrepresentations that the pro-wolf hunting lobby floats to the public to rationalize killing wolves to boost big game populations.

Why do we continue persecuting wolves when science shows they are not a threat?

I hope that these posts enlightened many of you to the real issues at hand here: that wolves are being unfairly persecuted across our provinces and states and that it's time we changed our wolf management policies.  As my posts have clearly shown, wild wolves are not a threat to human safety, to the livestock industry, or even to the sport hunting industry.  Rather than having our politicians ignore the science and continue to listen to the loudest lobby groups, I think we have a chance to effect real change with our own lobby group of wolf lovers, admirers, photographers, and biologists.

And while I would love to see an end to wolf trapping and hunting across the board from my own moral standpoint, I'm also not naive enough to think that will happen and nor do I think it needs to happen in regards to having sound scientific wolf management plans in place.  Rather, I want to aim for more feasible goals, beginning with no-hunting, no-trapping buffer zones set around all of our national parks like Banff, Yoho, Kootenay, Jasper, Waterton, Glacier, and Yellowstone to not only protect wolves, but also to protect the burgeoning tourism industry in these areas.  It is estimated that Yellowstone's wolves alone bring in more than 35 million dollars to the local economies, so it only makes sense that if we're still going to have wolf management that protects the interests of ranchers and sport hunters, then we also need to even the playing field and protect the interests of businesses that host the millions of tourists that flock to these World Heritage Sites in the hopes of seeing wild wolves.

How big should these buffer zones be?  Well, let's put it this way: in 2012, Banff National Park protected 6,697 square kilometers (2,564 square miles) of the Canadian Rockies -- it's an enormous swath of wilderness that takes over an hour to drive across from east to west, and almost two hours to drive across from south to north.  Yet in 2012, Banff National Park was home to exactly two wild wolf packs that did not have to deal with the threats of trapping and hunting on the park's edges.  Just two secure packs!  In fact, add in all of Kootenay and Yoho national parks, too, and we're still left with just two secure packs.

[Editor's note: For a fantastic resource on what we need in terms of buffer zones (and a great wolf resource website, period), check out Just Beings Wolf Conservation.]

Our national parks in Canada and the U.S. are not large enough on their own for secure wolf habitat

Other changes I would also like to see in future wolf management plans include:

- making wolf kill contests illegal
- making wolf hunting from snowmobiles (in a chase) illegal
- making wolf hunting with baiting or calling illegal
- making wolf hunting tags mandatory
- limiting the authority of wildlife management agencies to kill wolves except in the case of verified livestock losses and/or broader programs aimed at threatened or endangered species recovery (e.g. a broader program for caribou recovery in Idaho, B.C., and Alberta might include a wolf cull of entire packs known to prey on caribou IF the program also included an extensive habitat recovery phase limiting ATV use, snowmobile use, oil and gas exploration, etc).


- significantly bolstering our livestock reimbursement programs in terms of both funding and personnel (so that claims are dealt with quickly, efficiently, and accurately and so that verified claims are fully reimbursed across the northwest).

So what do you think of my suggestions?  What did you think of Wolf Week? And what changes would you like to see in wolf management in B.C., Alberta, Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana?  Please submit your Comments below to let me know.

Or better yet, why not submit your comments to the politicians in charge of our wolf management plans and ask for buffer zones around our national parks along with some of the other suggestions I mentioned above:

For British Columbians, you can email:

Honourable Steve Thomson—Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources

To: Steve.Thomson.mla@leg.bc.ca
CC: rich.coleman.mla@leg.bc.ca; terry.lake.mla@leg.bc.ca; sunletters@vancouversun.com; info@pacificwild.org, adrian.dix.mla@leg.bc.ca, info@wildernessprints.com

(be sure to include reference to the buffer zones, to government workers snaring wolves (Day 1 post), to the wolf kill contest (Day 2 post), and to strengthening the livestock reimbursement program)

For Albertans, you can email:

Honourable Diana McQueen -- Minister of Environment and Sustainable Resource Development

To: ESRD.Minister@gov.ab.ca
CC: vermilion.lloydminster@assembly.ab.ca, info@wildernessprints.com, office@albertaliberal.com, asyslak@cpaws.org

@DianaMcQueenMLA (twitter)

(be sure to include reference to the buffer zones, to the fact no tag is required to hunt wolves, to the value of wild wolves to tourism in Alberta, and to the strengthening of the livestock reimbursement program)

And for those of you in the U.S.:

Visit WolfWatcher's Take Action page to see what you can do right now to help Yellowstone's wolves (including phone numbers and emails for Montana's governor -- be sure to reference the value of wolves to tourism in Montana and the critical need for buffer zones).

That's it for now, everyone. Thank you again for all of your support. 


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