Alberta wolf bounty created to protect livestock under fire

Wolf bounties in two northern Alberta municipalities aimed at protecting livestock have caught the attention of wildlife organizations opposed to bounties.

Clear Hills County and the Municipal District of Big Lakes both implemented wolf bounties this year in an attempt to stop livestock kills by wolves.

“We had a lot of cattle producers from the area who have had wolf problems,” said Al Billings, reeve of the M.D. of Big Lakes.

Billings said the number of wolves in their area has increased dramatically in recent years along with the number of livestock losses from wolves. Landowners, registered trappers and resident trappers in the local area will be paid $300 for each wolf killed in the area.

“Hopefully, this will bring some numbers down. There are too many around,” said Billings.

“If we feel we’re getting too many numbers, we’ll cancel.”

So far, only one person has collected the $300 bounty from the Big Lakes municipality.

Clear Hills County pays $500 for each wolf killed in the area by local landowners or trappers.

Fifteen people have collected on 17 wolves. The county’s 2010 wolf bounty budget was set at $30,000.

Sadie Parr, interpreter with the Northern Lights Wolf Centre and a member of the Canadian Wolf Coalition, said placing a bounty on wolves would not decrease livestock losses.

Instead, it will disrupt the natural order of wolf packs, allow young juveniles to hunt indiscriminately and allow more coyotes and dogs to hunt livestock.

“Killing indiscriminately will not help livestock producers,” said Parr.

She is not opposed to killing wolves that have become problems but is opposed to the random killing.

“Not one bounty has ever been successful. It is not really a solution.”

Parr believes the money budgeted to pay wolf bounties should be used to educate livestock producers on ways to reduce the conflict with wolves and improve the understanding of wolf behaviour.

Wolves live in a stable family unit, she said. Killing part of that unit can disrupt their social pact and cause other wolves to invade the fallen territory.

She suggests using range riders to scare the wolves away, flagging, audio-boxes, guardian dogs, fencing and a change in livestock management as ways to reduce livestock kills. Mixing mother cows with yearlings and keeping cattle out of certain pastures at specific times of the year can reduce wolf predation.

Wolf conservations groups offer seminars to landowners on how to live with wolves, Parr added.

Billings said he has lost about six cattle on his land over the last four or five years. Normally, he can be compensated under provincial government predator control programs but sometimes there is little evidence left to verify a wolf kill.

“In fairness to our wolf friends, I have calves out there that are not bothered,” he said.

While some deterrent programs may be viable in smaller land areas, they are not feasible on the northern Alberta ranches comprising thousands of acres.

Billings said the M.D. is not expecting a large number of wolves to be killed under the program, but wanted to try something new to help livestock producers.

“This has been around for a number of years. It keeps coming back so we thought we’d do something about it.”

The program will be reviewed annually, he said.

Wolves of the west

These are subspecies of Canis lupus, also known as the Grey wolf or Timber wolf, that live in Western Canada:

Canis lupus columbianus: Yukon, B.C. and Alberta

Canis lupus crassodon: Vancouver Island

Canis lupus hudsonicus: northern Manitoba and the Northwest Territories

Canis lupus griseoalbus: northern Alberta, Sask., and Manitoba

Canis lupus irremotus: Rocky Mountains

Canis lupus mackenzii: Northwest Territories

Canis lupus occidentalis: Western Canada, also called the Mackenzie Valley Wolf

Canis lupus pambasileus: Alaska and the Yukon

Canis lupus tundrarum: arctic tundra

Source: www.northernlightswildlife.co m | MICHELLE HOULDEN GRAPHIC

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WOLVES OF THE WEST

These are subspecies of Canis lupus, also known as the Grey wolf or Timber wolf, that live in Western Canada:

Canis lupus columbianus: Yukon, B.C. and Alberta

Canis lupus crassodon: Vancouver Island

Canis lupus hudsonicus: northern Manitoba and the Northwest Territories

Canis lupus griseoalbus: northern Alberta, Sask., and Manitoba

Canis lupus irremotus: Rocky Mountains

Canis lupus mackenzii: Northwest Territories

Canis lupus occidentalis: Western Canada, also called the Mackenzie Valley Wolf

Canis lupus pambasileus: Alaska and the Yukon

Canis lupus tundrarum: arctic tundra

Source: www.northernlightswildlife.co m | MICHELLE HOULDEN GRAPHIC

3 Responses

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  1. The bounty on wolves is a great idea

  2. Darren on

    I have to disagree Blake, for all the reasons listed in the article, and more. Co-existance, and non-lethal methods have a good track record. The idea of places bounties on animals is so short sighted, and in my view height of arrogance on our part as a species…as we surpass (mother) nature.

  3. Andy Koshykar on

    Bears and wolves have no natural predators to control their population numbers, so when they have depleted the big game in their territory, they move on and begin killing livestock and yard and house pets. It’s all food to them. The people who are against controlling wolf populations are the ones who don’t have even the slightest clue about the big picture!

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