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 with Rob Miskosky

The Lion Question and Wolf Management

Perhaps my 19-year-old son Dakota said it best: “People are starving all over Africa and nobody says a word. But kill a lion and the whole world goes into an uproar. What’s up with that?”

Good question. I have to wonder though, would we even be talking about this if the lion in question hadn’t been Disneyfied by having been given a name? Would a man have had to go into hiding to avoid the circus sure to follow him, perhaps even harm him? Would people that previously gave little thought to hunting now be concerned with hunting?

A good friend of my wife’s visited our new house a week or so ago and while I know this person fairly well, I’m not so sure she knows or understands me anymore. I wasn’t there when she visited, but after touring the upstairs, my wife took her downstairs to the basement where I have four deer, three whitetails and a mule deer, mounted on the wall. While they aren’t trophy deer by any standard, they are nice deer with the three whitetails pushing that 160-inch mark. However, they are trophies to me for sure.

My wife’s friend, while pointing to the deer on the wall, asked my wife, “Doesn’t that bother you?”

“Many groups monopolize the wolf
for their own financial benefit.”
My wife responded that, “No, they didn’t bother her.” However, when she relayed the story to me, I could tell that perhaps she was just a little bit bothered, not by the lion being killed, but because people were now questioning her about hunting because of the lion. Earlier, my wife’s sister had phoned and had also brought up the subject, wanting to know what I thought about the lion being killed. I never spoke to her so I never had the chance to tell her how I felt, which is quite indifferent. Until it is proven that the lion was indeed killed illegally, I really don’t care one way or the other. If it was killed illegally, then charge those responsible and move on with your lives. Banning trophy hunting in Africa would bring a financial hardship to many, many Africans, and that would be a far bigger crime than the killing of a lion.

While trophy hunting offers me little concern, what does bother me is the portrayed concern by some about wildlife that is far from being in peril. As an example, those that use the wolf as a means to better themselves financially. Groups like Wolf Awareness Inc., Wolf Matters, Furbearer Defenders and others that all share large “Donate” buttons on their websites, or sell merchandise in the name of saving wolves but give nothing back.

It is estimated there are more than 7000 wolves patrolling Alberta lands. A number far higher than what our wildlife managers and our “true” conservation organizations would like to see. However, according to groups like the three mentioned above, the wolf is in definite peril, is being persecuted, and needs to be saved; at a cost of course, so donate money!

Billboards have suddenly started appearing along Highway 2 proclaiming, “Help End The War On Wolves”. The signs then list Poison, Bounties, Aerial Guns and Snares as the culprits; not only an obvious shot at government, but also a shot at Alberta’s trappers who employ snares and utilize bounties where they are offered. Oh, and let’s not forget that the billboards offer a website where you can go to donate money to “Help End The War On Wolves”.

Just how that money would be used is open for debate, but I bet I know where most, if not all of it would go.

The reality is, wolf numbers in Alberta are extremely high and they need to be reduced for a multitude of reasons.

Alberta’s Wolf Management Plan is dated 1991 and is soon to be updated. According to Paul Frame, Alberta’s Carnivore Specialist, “ 

It would be nice if Alberta’s new Wolf Management Plan contained a section on managing those so inclined to monopolize the wolf. Perhaps muzzles are in order. ■

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