Monday, February 11, 2013

Wolf Snares in the Backyard - Wolf Week - Day 1

Imagine walking along a trail near your house on a beautiful sunny day, your lovely dog racing along beside you darting in and out of every little trail having the time of its life.  A dog being a dog. A perfect day!

Now imagine being out on that walk and, suddenly, all goes quiet except for a muted rustling in the bushes to your left.  Your dog has vanished, and you sense that something isn't right.  During a frenzied, panicked search, you discover your dog choking to death ensnared in a wire wrenched so tightly around its' neck that you can't even get a finger in there. 

Within minutes, your beautiful family dog is dead, all because some friggin' idiot put a wolf snare on YOUR backyard trails.

Sound too far-fetched to be true?

Wildlife photographer and conservation advocate Brad Hill came across wolf snares in his 'backyard' in the Columbia Valley in British Columbia while walking his dogs this weekend (thankfully his dogs are fine), and he's rightfully furious that no one warned him they where there.

He was just as mad that someone had put it upon themselves to 'manage' wolf numbers near his house, so he made a few calls and discovered that the ones placing the snares were actually paid government workers, Conservation Officers (COs) with British Columbia Fish & Wildlife.  Further digging revealed that these COs had set the snares to remove a pack of 6 wolves that had been preying on cattle (or so they suspected) on public land.

So basically, in a nutshell, British Columbia taxpayers are paying for their government employees to go out and choke wolves to death, uh, pardon me, to snare wolves in what's considered to be a perfectly acceptable manner so that the wolves won't (potentially) prey on cattle that are being run on public land.  To break that down even further, taxpayers are paying for government workers to remove wild wolves doing what they do naturally in the public wilderness owned by all Canadians so that a private business (the rancher) can increase its earning potential while using public land for free.

Want to learn just how ridiculous this situation really is?  Then check out Brad's full post, Wolf Snares in my Backyard - an Ethical Dilemma.

Now back to those snares.

Is choking a wolf to death humane?  Is that the fate awaiting this beautiful gray wolf in B.C.'s Columbia Valley?

I got to photograph this wolf above on a chance encounter north of Radium in British Columbia's Columbia Valley just this past November.  I am sickened to learn that it may now fall victim to a wolf snare just because some rancher can't look after his cattle on the range (I'm sorry, but if you plan on letting your cattle out onto public lands to graze all summer long without any supervision or husbandry, then losing cattle to bears, wolves, cougars, or anything else should just be the cost of doing business). 

I'm beyond frustrated that we continue to persecute wolves without letting science do the talking. Conservation Officers should know better.  They go to school and are supposed to learn a bit about wildlife biology, and they should know, as Brad says on his blog, that "one way to GUARANTEE that wolves will turn toward livestock is to kill about half a pack - not only are you likely to take out some of the more experienced animals that teach the younger ones how to kill natural prey (like the elk and deer that abound in this area), but you're also making it unlikely that they will even be able to take down grown elk (and thus can be forced to go after "easier" prey, like livestock)."

It is not rocket science, yet we continue to stand around and let our governments sneak around behind our backs doing things like this.  Wolf snares should be outlawed immediately. They can and do ensnare family pets like dogs, as well as a host of wild creatures like coyotes and deer.

I'm not going to beat around the bush on this one, someone, anyone, needs to go down there (the GPS coordinates from Brad's picture of one of the snares are 50,11.2403N, 115,53.8594W on the Findlay-Dutch road north of Radium -- you can find more details on Brad's blog) and see those snares for themselves. If you happen to take along some wire-cutters, so be it. 

One of the wolf neck snares along the Findlay-Dutch - (c) Brad Hill

I have decided to officially name this Wolf Week here on my nature photography blog and Facebook fan page, so starting today and continuing all week long, you're going to get full updates on a host of storylines associated with wolves in BC, Alberta, and Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, including an update on the Wolf Kill Contest situation in northern British Columbia.

Thanks everyone for your interest,

John

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12 Comments:

Anonymous Betty Gilgoff said...

I'm all for Wolf Week John so keep them coming. We need more of this information getting out to the public and you do such a wonderful job not only of capturing the most amazing photos but telling us the stories that go with them. I think through you I've fallen in love with the grizzly bears and wolves that you follow.

But I want to know who it is that we write to in order to express our outrage?

February 11, 2013 at 4:29 PM  
Blogger Nathan Masters said...

Hi John,
I am all for the Wolf week. Your images of all Canadian wildlife are so beautiful. IT makes me feel like I am right there with the animals.
I want to know who we write to as well.
Nathan

February 11, 2013 at 5:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hope your words are heard in the right ears. The things that go on behind closed doors never cease to amaze me.

February 11, 2013 at 5:42 PM  
Anonymous Carl Marshall said...

Right on. The use of "control" on government land is a long tradition which needs to end. Here in the US ranchers who run their cattle on BLM or Forest Service administered land do so for a small fraction of the fair market lease value and then many protest in the extreme when the wolves come on the land. Government contractors do the dirty work of kiling the wolves for them.This is wrong and frankly, below mere contempt.

February 11, 2013 at 7:23 PM  
Anonymous Scott said...

John,

I am with you 100%. Let the wolves survive.

February 12, 2013 at 1:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you John for spreading the word. We in Jackson Hole, Wyoming have the same problem. There are so many people who DO understand how important the wolf population is but the people in power aren't hearing us! I will continue to follow your blog...more people need to become aware of the inhumane treatment of our wolves which is now affecting all of us, our family and pets!People here have found their dogs in the same situation. Best of luck! Deb

February 12, 2013 at 11:28 AM  
Anonymous Shirley szilvasy said...

I have sent an e-mail to B.C. Fish and wildlife to express my distate for what they are doing. I think everyone should forward one to them and that this type of thing should be brought forward to the media and let them expose it for what it is- cruelty.

February 12, 2013 at 12:42 PM  
Anonymous Debra H. said...

John,
I am also with you 100% and would like to know who to write to. I am sick & tired of conservation officers working for ranchers instead of wildlife.

February 12, 2013 at 1:28 PM  
Anonymous Debra H. said...

John,
I am with you 100% and would also like to know who to write to. I am tired of conservation officers working for ranchers instead of wildlife!

February 12, 2013 at 1:30 PM  
Blogger JohnEMarriott said...

Thank you everyone, each and every comment you make and action you can take helps!

February 12, 2013 at 5:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Beautiful pictures of those majestic wolves. If anyone came into my backyard - which is fenced off - they would be up for trespass. That's the way it is in New Zealand. I've been over there several times and backyards are often open to the wilderness. I guess that's the problem. It's shocking the way the northern states of the USA are dealing with wolves. It's horrible cruelty.

February 13, 2013 at 8:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This report makes me just furious , I can't believe any conservation officer
could do such a thing, they are supposed to be out out there protecting
the wildlife not killing them in such a horrific way, in my opinion any person who could do such a thing has no conscience and no redeeming qualities as a human being and has no place in a proper society, killing wolves because some farmer lost cattle using public lands
is ridiculous and unconscionable , these farmers need to accept the fact that it's their own stupidity and ignorance that got their cattle killed in the first place, the farmers need to grow up and grab a brain and realize that theses public lands are the wolves homes and not their personal land, they need to take their cattle else where.
Any Conservation officer who would take the order to set snares that choke these majestic animals to death, has absolutely no heart and doesn't deserve the job he has been entrusted with , how do these officers go home to their family's at night and be able to look them in the face, I question their judgement and obvious lack of proper training and moral value, what they are doing is an act of vicious cowardice and for all purpose Murder I don't know how they live knowing what they are doing, Shame on them.
Steve Woods

February 14, 2013 at 8:49 AM  

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