Killing wolves without purpose

I have to report an ongoing travesty.

In the name of protecting Woodland Caribou, the Alberta Government has killed more than 1000 wolves using poison, traps, and guns from helicopters. Hundreds of other animals have also been killed, including moose and elk to bait wolf traps. Others have died by eating poison intended for the wolves. It’s barbaric and senseless.

This is all happening in the name of protecting Woodland Caribou. They call it a “cull”. The problem is it doesn’t work.

The reality is Woodland Caribou are declining as a result of habitat loss and disruption. In order to survive, Woodland Caribou need large areas of undisturbed, old growth woodland habitat for food, shelter and protection.

Woodland caribou have already lost at least one-half of their historic range in Canada. We’re in danger of losing the caribou if we don’t get a handle on industrial development and enact strong laws to restrict activities in caribou habitat.

Related: Woodland Caribou Backgrounder

Today in Alberta, the reality is Woodland Caribou habitat is rapidly being destroyed by unmitigated, unchecked and unsustainable industrial practices.

According to a report in the Canadian Journal of Zoology:

From 2005 to 2012, in a 10,000-square-km treatment area northwest of Hinton, government crews have shot gunned 579 wolves from helicopters and poisoned 154 more with strychnine. Furthermore, to attract the wolves to the poison, the biologists shot 177 moose and 16 elk to serve as bait. The campaign is ongoing and the current toll of wolves alone can be expected to exceed 1,000. In addition, 167 wolves were snared by private trappers but there is only a partial list of the many collateral casualties of poisoning, including ravens, foxes, martens and lynxes.

According to acclaimed wildlife ecologist Dick Dekker:

“Habitat fragmentation is the main reason the woodland caribou is in decline. The problem has frequently been reported in the Journal, and the province has been severely criticized for continuing to issue permits for more industrial activity.”

Mr. Dekker has studied wolves and their prey species in Jasper National Park since 1965. His publications include some 250 titles, including a dozen wildlife books published in Canada, the U.S. and the Netherlands. He knows what he’s talking about.

Three years ago we were part of successful campaign to convince the Federal Minister of Environment to de-emphasize killing wolves and put habitat protection at the head of the list of actions in their Woodland Caribou recovery plan.

You may remember back in 2012, we collected over 3000 signatures in just 4 days opposing the feds proposed wolf slaughter. In the end, over 35,000 of you spoke out and took the call to action. It was a major victory.

Now the wolves need us again. Unfortunately, Alberta didn’t get the message. The indiscriminate slaughter continues and the Caribou population remains in freefall.


I’m sad to report that British Columbia has joined the senseless slaughter.

So we are re-launching our #SaveTheWolves campaign with a letter writing action to B.C. Premier Christy Clark and Alberta Premier Jim Prentice.

Please take a moment and send your letter today! Perhaps, together, we can get their attention again!

We’ve prepared a draft letter here. It’s best to personalize it, emphasizing your own concerns.

Wolves have been the victim of human prejudice and ignorance for too long.

It is industrial activities that's killing off caribou. Scapegoating wolves might distract attention from that uncomfortable truth for a while, but it won’t change the fact.

Both Premiers are active on Twitter so after you’ve sent your letter, please send them a Tweet urging them to do the right thing!


Thanks for standing up for the wolves.


John Bennett, National Program Director
Sierra Club Canada Foundation
1510-1 Nicholas Street
Ottawa, Ontario K1N 7B7
John on Twitter / Bennett Blog