Oh, the many effects of extracting the world’s dirtiest oil!

Despite the huge PR offensive by big oil, Alberta, and Canada’s right wing government, it is hard to overwhelm the public into thinking digging big holes to get out the bitumen is a great idea. Scientists, bloggers, conservation groups, and even segments of the Democratic Party keep pointing out how it hurts.

An example this morning of a common blog attack is Cry Wolf: An Unethical Oil Story. DeSmogBlog. Carol Linnitt.

The facts are basically these. Note that this does not follow the exact  same logic as “Cry Wolf” above.  Alberta has already killed 500 wolves using poison bait and the entire array of methods that conservationist hate.  This includes strychnine which kills all the scavengers too. The planned wolf cull is to kill 6000 wolves over the next 5 years. Why? All the industrial activity in the northern forest creates deer habitat.  A big increase in deer, creates more wolves to eat them.  Mountain caribou are also edible, but usually not bothered much by wolves due to their rarity.  However, the larger wolf population means more caribou get eaten as what we might call “by-catch,” to use a fishing example.  Mountain caribou can’t stand this pressure even though the absolute number of caribou killed is small.  So the big wolf killing program is the government-dirty oil complex’s effort to save the caribou.

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About The Author

Ralph Maughan

Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan's Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of "Hiking Idaho." He also wrote "Beyond the Tetons" and "Backpacking Wyoming's Teton and Washakie Wilderness." He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

6 Responses to Alberta’s tar sand pits create deer, wolves and decimate mountain caribou

  1. Hi Ralph! Thanks for posting a link to our documentary and for fleshing out some of the more nuanced scientific issues at stake here. I hope we’ll have the chance to expand on this cursory documentary in the future.

  2. Immer Treue says:

    Heiko Wittmer, among others in Canada have studied the woodland caribou. I cannot open this file from my present location, I believe it is his 2007 study


    but it spells out the destruction and fragmentation of Woodland Caribou habitat, which makes more suitable deer, moose, and elk habitat, which in turns brings in more predators, such as wolves. Even though the caribou are more of a secondary prey choice, this influx of predators puts more pressure on the caribou. Short term answer to perhaps bolster caribou is remove predators. Long term answer, the one that everyone knows, it’s the habitat stupid.

  3. Salle says:

    Tar Sands in the United States: What You Need to Know


  4. Wolf Moderate says:

    I read this a while back and can’t understand why these camps can’t contain there trash better. Killing 145 bears isn’t a huge issue in Canada due to there large numbers, but killing them for no other reason than laziness is a bit ridiculous.


April 2012


‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

~ Edward Abbey

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