Wolves, Caribou, Tar Sands and Canada’s Oily Ethics

We ran a story on this earlier — they are going to shoot a lot of wolves because tar sand mining is ruining the mountain caribou habitat. Now this in the Huffington Post.

Wolves, Caribou, Tar Sands and Canada’s Oily Ethics. By Chris Genovali. Executive Director, Raincoast Conservation Foundation



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  1. Larry Thorngren Avatar

    I have traveled way out on the Dempster Highway in the Yukon on two occasions to see and photograph the Pocupine Caribou Herd as it heads south for the winter.
    The hunting season closes each fall for eight days to allow the caribou to cross the Dempster and continue on their migration. I saw thousands of caribou each time I made the trip. I stayed for a few days to observe the hunt when the eight day closure was over.
    I only saw one caribou that had been killed by wolves. The main cause of death was hunting by native hunters. They claimed to be participating in their ancestral practice of killing caribou to eat, but the ones I saw were driving new pickups, pulling new snowmobiles behind their new trucks. and using modern high powered scoped rifles.They would shoot and load caribou until their pickups were full.When I asked some of them what the limit was, I was told that they could shoot as many as they needed. I asked if a truck load was enough and got some angry stares.
    A Canadian game warden told me they were taking the caribou to town and selling the meat.

  2. Headwaters Avatar

    The tar sands are strip-mining the habitat of woodland caribou, not mountain caribou. This is only affecting a few populations. However, every caribou population in Alberta is in decline. Wolves are definitely the immediate cause for several of these herds, but the ultimate causes include massive logging operations, incredible networks of exploration and development roads constructed by the oil and gas industry, and a warming climate that has made winters far friendlier to wolves, whitetails and elk, and less friendly to animals like caribou that rely on deep snow to avoid predation.
    So… Killing wolves is treating a symptom, not the causes. The problem is that Alberta’s industry-friendly land use creates fragmented second-growth habitats that produce tons of wolf food (deer and elk) and the wolves pick off the struggling caribou incidentally because the same landscape changes make them so vulnerable. It may be necessary to buy time for some of the critically vulnerable herds but only if accompanied by serious measures to preserve what little remains of Alberta’s intact boreal forests. Don’t hold your breath for that.