Social, family-oriented, and highly adaptable—wolves have a lot in common with dogs and humans. Old myths and fears plus competition for land and prey threaten the survival of these wild canids. Sadly, wolves are often misunderstood and needlessly shot, poisoned, trapped, and hunted for sport.
In provinces all across the country, wolves are tragic scapegoats, blamed for declining moose and caribou populations, when the real threats are factors such as over-hunting, climate change, parasites and the disappearance of vital habitat as extraction industries encroach further into the wilderness.
In BC, wolves in the South Peace and South Selkirk regions are currently in the crosshairs of the BC government, which recently issued permits for contract hunters to shoot hundreds of wolves from helicopters in exchange for a tax-payer funded bounty totaling $2.2 million. The government claims that the plan is to protect caribou, but their own documents say that the strategy of culling wolves is unlikely to have a significant effect in absence of effective restoration of caribou habitat, which has been carved up and destroyed by resource extraction industries such as logging, mining, and oil and gas development. Shooting wolves from helicopters is inherently inhumane, as there is no way to check from the air whether or not a wolf that has been shot is still alive and in pain.
Similar to the situation in British Columbia, wolves in Alberta are being scapegoated and slaughtered needlessly under the guise of caribou protection, as a ploy to pander to the industrial interests that are responsible for vast destruction of caribou habitat. The Alberta provincial government and local governments allow killing methods that are more varied than in BC, but just as inhumane. In addition to aerial gunning from helicopters, wolves in Alberta are also routinely killed by strychnine poisoning and neck snares, both of which cause immense suffering to the animals – including other non-target species that eat the poisoning or get caught in the snares. Since 2005, nearly 1000 wolves have been killed by the Alberta government, and many more have been killed by hunters and trappers who are paid through municipal and private bounties.
Humane Society International/Canada advocates for an end to wolf culling programs, which have proven to be ineffective, and for more protections for wolves and their habitat. In areas where caribou and moose populations are threatened, HSI/Canada is calling for non-lethal measures to help species rebound, including better habitat protection, more funding for research and solutions to parasite problems, stricter controls on moose hunting, and better enforcement of anti-poaching laws.