Caribou Pay the Price. Wolves Get the Blame. Kochs Get the $$.

February 13, 2015

Common Dreams:

Alberta’s attempt to boost caribou numbers by killing wolves is an inhumane approach that fails to target the root of the problem—the extractivist industries—says a group scientists.

Explaining how the wolves came to be seen as the problem, Kaleigh Rogers writes at Vice:

See, roads and industrial development built to take advantage of Alberta’s rich natural resources has impacted the woodland habitat, in part allowing wolves to more easily gain access to the caribou herds. While the wolves aren’t to blame, they have been contributing to the diminishing caribou population and nearly wiped them out in some areas, so the government decided to introduce a systematic wolf cull to address the immediate problem.


Controversy erupted in November following the publication of an analysis in the Canadian Journal of Zoology, which, as CBC Newsreported at the time, assessed

the effect of a seven-year wolf cull in the northwestern Alberta range of the Little Smoky caribou herd — roughly 70 animals scratching out a living on land 95 per cent disturbed by forestry and energy development. Seismic lines and cutblocks from that development allow wolves deep into the undisturbed portions of the forest, adding further pressure.

In an attempt to keep caribou from disappearing, Alberta began an annual cull of about 45 per cent of the wolves on that range in 2005. By 2012, 841 wolves had been poisoned or shot from helicopters.

The wolf killing managed to keep the caribou population stable, but was just buying time for the caribou, the study found. As Emma Marris wrote in the journal Nature, the caribou population did not show an increase. “Such an increase would require placing new limits on industrial development in Alberta, a conclusion that adds fuel to an ongoing debate about the ecological consequences of human activity in the boreal forest,” she wrote of the study.

Meanwhile, the still-teasing-about-running-for-president, WTF quote generator, and sweetheart of climate deniers everywhere,  Sara Palin, had some tough love for whiny caribou.

Christopher Helman in Forbes:

“The administration is not understanding the inherent link between energy and security and energy and prosperity. He’s rewarding the environmentalists who are extreme in saying there would be environmental harm in developing ANWR.” They worry about the impact on the “moose and caribou.” Well we’ve had the Trans-Alaska Pipeline for decades, and that “pipeline has not been adverse at all.”

On the contrary, “the animals like the warmth” that the pipeline gives off. “The animals mate under the pipeline. I haven’t actually seen it” but that’s what I’m told. If oil and gas development is risky to wildlife, “if it is to hurt one caribou, then that one caribou should take one for the team and allow the rest of the country to benefit.”



6 Responses to “Caribou Pay the Price. Wolves Get the Blame. Kochs Get the $$.”

  1. dumboldguy Says:

    More evidence that we’ll never get it right. We are constantly applying anthropocentric “solutions” (bandaids) to ecological and environmental problems and wondering why they don’t work.

    Speaking of wolves, the first gray wolf to be seen in the Grand Canyon in 70 years was shot and killed by a hunter (an adult, presumably). “Echo” the dead wolf (yes, she had a name) got her name in a contest held among school kids after she was first found living in the area.

    The “hunter” said he made a mistake—-thought she was a coyote.

    (That’s a great lead pic, by the way—a great man vs. nature metaphor. Someone should do a collection—-planes/birds, fish/boats, cars/armadillos, guns-bombs/humans, etc)

  2. Ideally, you’d want to just leave Mother Nature to sort it all out with no human interference. However, once an area sees developments like logging, mining, agriculture, power transmission lines, and human settlements, suddenly there’s a need to “manage” wildlife or else you can expect to see species extinctions.

    I did live in Idaho once long ago, and I can say with confidence that, yes, wolves do indeed have a big impact on deer, elk and caribou populations. Conversely, the population of deer, elk and caribou have an impact on wolf population – after all, wolves are not vegetarians. If there are no prey animals for them to eat, their population will decline as well.

    So yes, it does make sense to cull the wolf population if the caribou are declining. Otherwise, the wolves will slowly starve, unless of course you start a campaign to feed them cans of dogfood.

    But the bigger issue is that, indeed, the huge tar sands mining operation in northern Alberta will negatively affect all wildlife in the region. I think that’s beyond dispute, no matter what the Cock Brothers might claim.

    I’ll just add that some of the biomass plans that greens promote aren’t cuddly either. Although I’m not sure that northern Alberta is being logged, nearby British Columbia most definitely is. Of course, most of the logging is for timber, with wood pellets being made from the “forest litter,” which really isn’t waste because removing it to sell for home heating removes fertility from the forest, causing future trees to grow stunted and become easy prey to pine bark beetles. While I’m no fan of tar sands, I’m also not so enamored with the biomass “solution.”

  3. redskylite Says:

    This is another prime example of a natural balance that mankind has rudely and abruptly upset.

    What a race we are, we can send satellites to investigate the outer planets, drill out wondrous channels under the Swiss Alps to examine the smallest of particles and yet have polluted our oceans with plastics and junk, and are torturing our fellow species.

    Culling wolves seems analogous to geo-engineering, cleaning up our imbalances with man made ideas and plans, maybe wise or maybe insane.

    Well Caribou have adapted themselves to a harsh environment and hold a special relationship with the Northern native human inhabitants. The tar sands is a mess, a pinnacle of human indulgence and industrial vandalism.

  4. redskylite Says:

    I came across this article in “PlanetExperts” by Daniela Ginta which strongly agrees with my sentiments…….

    • dumboldguy Says:

      Wolves are being “culled” or otherwise destroyed in all too many places, and it’s the folks of the “conservative” persuasion that seem to be behind it. Idaho and the area around Yellowstone are the hotspots for this in the lower 48, and some are even trying to organize a “wolf killing rodeo” with competition for prizes. They’re not concerned about caribou, but DO maintain that the wolves are killing livestock, molesti8ng Red Riding Hood, and blowing down houses full of pigs, and are therefore a menace to god, country, and the American Way. .

      It will be interesting to see what happens if they DO manage to wipe the wolves out. My prediction—after the wolves are gone, the caribou will still be in decline (because of the real reasons), and the ecosytems that have returned to “normal” since the reintroduction of wolves will go back to “abnormal”.

      You can be sure that the “fat cat” ranchers that shouldn’t be grazing animals for profit in “the wild places” will still be making their $$$$ and sharing it with the politicians. Some things never change.

  5. Makere Says:

    Reblogged this on The Turning Spiral and commented:

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: