Images of alleged government-contracted workers posing with wolf carcasses have been made public by a group advocating on behalf of wolf protection.
Wolf Awareness is a non-profit organization aimed at “promoting coexistence among humans and wolves” that is speaking out against efforts by the Government of Alberta to control the wolf population and protect caribou.
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The group released photos they received confidentially of what they’re calling “government-contracted helicopter staff” showing off carcasses of wolves they’ve killed as part of Alberta’s caribou recovery program.
“The photos are said to be a few years old, but aerial gunning of wolves continues to take place in numerous caribou ranges in Alberta as a last-ditch and controversial effort to halt caribou declines. It also occurs in BC,” says a release from Wolf Awareness.
In terms of the province’s caribou protection plan, their website states that one objective is “reducing excessive predator-caused mortality for both calves and adults (i.e., related to predator abundance, distribution, ease of travel, and hunting success)” but does not specify the type of predators and how this is to be achieved.
“The wolves would have been chased down by the helicopter pilot and subsequently shot at until they fell or disappeared wounded under forest cover,” remarks Hannah Barron, Conservation Director of Wolf Awareness.
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“Unless our governments commit to meaningful habitat protection, this is what caribou conservation is going to look like for the next several decades in western Canada.”
According to Wolf Awareness, “in Alberta aerial gunning of these animals is used in addition to provincial staff laying strychnine, as well as by trapping (some incentivized), which is mostly done with neck snares.”
“Strychnine is a highly toxic poison – since 2005 it’s killed a minimum of 250 “accidental” victims from 12 non-target species, including at-risk Grizzly bears, in the Grand Cache area.”
Conservation biologist Lisa Dahlseide, who is working with Wolf Awareness, says she has not been able to get a status update on this year’s program or how taxpayer funds are being used.
“After several attempts to confirm costs and if the poisoning program, aerial killing and trapping subsidies have initiated this winter season, there has been no reply from multiple AEP staff,” said Dahlseide.
“We know that removing wolves results in severe ecological debt, and clearly the government does not want the public to know the associated tax payer debt.”
Daily Hive has reached out to the Alberta Environment and Parks, but they did not respond by the time of publication.