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,


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