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 with Rob Miskosky

War on Wolves

The rancher could hear his cows bawling from the small lake about half a mile distant from his front porch. He’d heard his cows bawling before but this sound was different... and more concerning. One of the cows could be heard far above the others.

Throwing on his jacket, the rancher grabbed the little .243 that always waited, loaded, inside his boot closet and headed towards his quad and the sound of the bawling cow.

Several cow trails worked their way towards the small lake and it was one of these that he was now navigating. The closer he got to the small lake, the more the bawling intensified and the further he pushed down on the throttle with his thumb. Some of his cows were now making their way back past him at an alarming rate. He was now very concerned.

Navigating through a rough spot, the rancher could now see the lake but had yet to see the cow responsible for the noise. His eyes searched frantically and then out of the corner of his eye to his left, close to shore, he spied his cow mired in the mud. Two quick flashes to his left revealed the reason for the bawling—two large wolves were now making their escape through the understory, frightened off by the newcomer. His cow was still bawling, clearly frightened.

At first, the rancher figured he’d arrived just in time... but a closer inspection revealed the wolves had arrived first, and they’d clearly had their way for a while. The cow was injured badly, its right hindquarter and anus opened up to a massive wound. Unable to escape the mud, the wolves had started to make an easy meal of her. Taking his gun off safety, the rancher ended the cow’s bawling.

The above was relayed to me by a rancher I once trapped for. I could see in his eyes the hatred he held for wolves, coyotes, and to a lesser extent, cougars. My job, according to him, was to remove every single one of them, including the cougar that had been leaving tracks near the small creek that wound its way through his property. I explained I would do my best on the coyotes and wolves but the cougar I couldn’t do much about. Alberta had yet to relax its laws around landowners and cougars.

Alberta’s predator population is at an all-time high with wolves alone attributing for more than an estimated 10,000 individuals. Hunters remark that in many locations elk, moose and sheep numbers are no longer what they once were, livestock producers struggle daily to protect their investments from becoming fodder for predators, and Alberta’s diminished caribou herds need protection from wolves just to be able to sustain current numbers.

On May 30 of this year, the Alberta government accepted a report called “Setting Alberta on the Path to Caribou Recovery” that provides several actions for the province to utilize for caribou recovery. The report had to have been damning to those individuals and groups opposed to Alberta’s wolf control program, bounties, and trapping because throughout the 51-page report, wolf control remained a top priority.

Like it or not, Alberta’s wolf population needs to be controlled, not left alone to sort itself out, as being suggested by individuals and groups that offer nothing in the way of solutions. It’s easy to sit on a pedestal and make absurd claims about the techniques being used by hunters and trappers while asking for donations to further line their pockets from uneducated urbanites.

Rural Alberta understands the need, as do those entrusted with the management of Alberta’s wolf population. It’s unfortunate that those enamoured with predators because of their ability to bring financial gain, or those with a bitterness towards the hunting and trapping of wolves will continue to exaggerate, even lie to an equally uneducated media to accomplish their goals.

In 1991, it was estimated that Alberta’s wolf population ranged from a late-winter low of 3500 to an early summer high of 5500. In 25 years, that population has more than doubled.

If it’s a “war on wolves”, as some suggest, the wolf is winning. ■

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