Thursday, August 4, 2016

Banff Wolf Killed (same story every two weeks)

 At 8 p.m. last night, Parks Canada killed a yearling female wolf near Lake Minnewanka for what was described as “bold behaviour,” after the wolf repeatedly got into garbage left out by campers at the Two Jack Lake campsites and overflow campsite.

It was just the latest in a ridiculously long list of incidents and deaths in Banff at the hands of man for the latest Bow Valley wolf family, the wolves known as the Banff Town pack:

January 21st: Wildlife experts worry about habituation after Banff wolves spotted eating garbage (pathetically, the two construction companies that started this whole thing were only fined $1,000 each)

June 2nd: 'Things are looking bleak' for the Bow Valley wolf pack in Banff National Park

June 7th: Female wolf killed in Banff National Park after aggressive behaviour

June 16th: Applying fear so Banff wolves steer clear

June 18th: Wolf pup killed by train in Banff National Park

July 4th: Three more wolf pack pups killed

July 20th: 'Problematic' wolf gets into campsite garbage

July 21st: Alpha male, pack, limping through 2016

August 3rd: National Park bans tents at Two Jack Lake campgrounds due to wolf

And, finally, today's news that came as a shock to no one that has been following the demise of this wolf family closely: Banff National Park kills wolf involved in campground incidents

The Banff Town pack in happier times -- November 2015

So to be blunt: WTF is going on in Banff?

Twenty years ago, in 1996, the Bow Valley Study was commissioned to look at the effects humans were having on Banff and the Bow Valley. Their summary report was titled 'Banff-Bow Valley: At the Crossroads.'

Today, we can look back and clearly see which direction the Parks Canada Agency has taken from that crossroads with our beloved Bow Valley. Few recommendations from that report have ever been implemented and there is hardly a piece of the Bow Valley that is now not much worse off than it was twenty years ago in terms of ecological integrity and protection. Rather than ramp up protection for the habitat and the wildlife in the valley, Parks Canada has instead ambitiously and blindly pursued an increase in tourism and visitation while simultaneously decreasing funding and staffing.

In short, Banff National Park, the crown jewel of the Canadian national parks system, is now critically underfunded, understaffed, under protected and over visited.

The staff on the ground are being worked to the bone, bleeding their souls back into the park; but at this point, they're fighting a losing battle. Every action they take is reactionary, not precautionary, because they simply don't have the manpower or the will from Ottawa to truly take charge of the situation and right the ship.

Peter Dettling warned of the pending storm in his book, The Will of the Land. So too did Gunther Bloch in my book with him this past July, The Pipestones: The Rise and Fall of a Wolf Family. But frankly, so too did the Bow Valley Study twenty years ago.

Perhaps it's finally time to start to question whether Banff National Park is still our crown jewel. Is it even still worthy of being included in UNESCO's world heritage sites?

How has our national park failed so miserably? In recent weeks, the Banff Town wolf family has been “accidentally” and intentionally fed, trapped, collared, killed by Parks Canada staff, and killed by CPR trains. What started as two wolves meeting in the valley for the first time in the winter of 2015 -- having three pups in 2015, then having six more pups in 2016 -- and heading into this spring as a family of 11, has completely disintegrated into a limping male, two yearlings (including one that's also on a death watch for getting into garbage) and maybe, if we're lucky, one or two surviving pups, though no one really knows at this point.

Yes, Parks Canada has increased information patrols, public outreach, and citations. But it's yet another case of way too little, way too late.

I'll leave the final word on this devastating day for Canada's most prominent national park to the Alberta organization, Wolf Matters, who says that for now Parks needs to step up the plate and close all of the campgrounds that have been affected before more wolves die:

Our species has proven that we cannot be trusted, whether through true ignorance, laziness, or disrespect, it doesn't matter, we cannot be trusted and so the privilege [of camping in Banff] should be removed. There is nowhere else for these animals to go, this is their home. Outside the park they can be poisoned, snared, hunted 10 months of the year, shot from the air, and trapped -- and inside the park....well, it seems they cannot live safely there either.

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9 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Campers should never leave anything at their campsites. If they do, they should be fined. The wolves should never be killed for this reason either. This incident is inexcusable!

August 4, 2016 at 4:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent post and summary. This is a pathetic situation.
-Monica Dragosz

August 4, 2016 at 5:44 PM  
Anonymous Cynthia Leader said...

Thank you for this article. The wolves in the eastern slopes of the Rockies, are also in trouble. Humans are the problem. Not the wolves.

August 4, 2016 at 6:02 PM  
Anonymous Michal Pietraszko said...

For some reason Parks Canada supports people who think our National Parks are Disneyland. The amount of ignorant and uneducated in terms of wildlife people visiting Banff NP absolutely unacceptable. It should be a privilage to be able to camp there, not a matter of making a reservation online.
Thank you John for bringing this issue up. I think we all should do what we can to educate our friends and families.
Cheers.

August 4, 2016 at 6:59 PM  
Blogger Dee said...

Thank you. Keep the light on. People care.

August 4, 2016 at 10:21 PM  
Blogger intelife said...

Include links on who to contact. Also start a petition on change.org and on the animal petitions site...do it fast. It must target the Parks official responsible for decision making.

August 5, 2016 at 7:01 AM  
Blogger Rita V said...

Sadly, parks are being run as corporations now. Its all about the paying visitors and not the wildlife and fauna they shoyld be protecting. Reports/recomendations are sought to appease the public and create an illusion that public opinion matters. But implementing recomendations costs money and recimendations are often ignored in favour of the bottom line. Sadly, this pattern will likely continue intil our parks and wildlife disappear entirely.

August 5, 2016 at 10:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Uh, what if you & other prolific wildlife photographers STOP producing wildlife porn & showing everyone where there is wildlife & thus bringing in the masses. It's one thing to educate & promote saving wilderness but you ignore human nature, which smothers & ends up killing anything that becomes popular. Think wolves in Banff, Mtn Goat drowned in Alaska, seals & dolphins killed by human crowds .... In my time of living in Calgary, seeing wolves was incredibly rare, as we just didn't know where they would be. Now, you & other pros & amateurs alike, give guided tours, or post of Farcebook, or send out Twits of your God Damned "trophies", which causes more & more educated & ignorant to become voyeurs & digital trophy hunters. It's sickening. Why not do what some like Darwin Wigget do & ignore popularizing wildlife, but instead popularize the fight against animal cruelty, animal farming & SPCA's. He has produced wonderful images of dogs & cats in overcrowded underfunded SPCA shelters, which attract forever homes for these animals. They are not digital photo trophies as you make out wildlife to be, even though is not exactly your intention.

August 21, 2016 at 6:14 PM  
Blogger intelife said...

Shelter animals have tons of advocates..because they are mostly cuddly and beta to humanoids. I don't believe the intention of wildlife photography is to help pinpoint the locations of the animals. At least I hope not!

August 22, 2016 at 11:50 AM  

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