Letter: Wolves decimate herds; don’t drive economy

When one looks at the wolf it is just an eating machine that, if not controlled, will decimate most wildlife populations.

In reading your paper of Jan 30, 2015 there seems to be quite a bit of controversy over a caribou enhancement program and the culling of wolves (Save Caribou Habitat, Don’t Kill Wolves, Jan. 30 letter to the editor). I live in Kelowna during the winter months, but own and operate an eco tourism business in the Yukon during the summer and fall. Being in the outdoor adventure business, it is very important to have pristine wilderness and wildlife that folks can enjoy and photograph.

In the early 1980s there was a steep decline in the moose and caribou population in our working area of the Yukon, an area known as the Finlayson Lake area. The Yukon government stepped in and did a very in-depth study on the problem. It was determined that the problem was the wolf population. The caribou and moose were declining at around 20 per cent a year and there were only 1,000 moose and 1,200 caribou left in the 70-mile area, approximately 4,900 square miles around Finlayson Lake.

Over a period of three years biologist from the government reduced the wolves by over 250 animals. For the next five years they maintained them at around 30 animals. After a five year period the herds had rebounded to around 10,000 moose and 7,500 caribou. A further study was done on the vegetation or habitat to see the impact of this influx of animals. The biologists determined that the habitat was in excellent condition and that it could easily handle 15,000 moose and 20,000 caribou.

Like many successful wildlife programs done by government, the ball was dropped. Now, 12 years later, we are back to our 1980 numbers. Over the years the wolves have taken 9,000 moose and 6,500 caribou and their offspring.

When one looks at the wolf, it is just an eating machine that if not controlled will decimate most wildlife populations. We only have to look across the border to the northern US to see what the wolf has done.

As a long time person who promotes and makes his living off of viewing and photographing wildlife, this decline is a travesty. In the 28 years we have operated our business at this location, we have never taken a photo of a wolf and they are not an animal that has a commercial value to eco tourism. They are a beautiful animal, but seldom ever seen by residents or tourists. If they are not controlled on an ongoing basis, they will decimate animal herds that are essential to our native people, resident hunters and eco tourism businesses. Just work out the dollars lost to the province or territory, it is in the tens of millions each year.

No one is advocating getting rid of the wolf. We are in support of a wildlife enhancement program that maintains a balance of all wildlife, for all Canadians. In viewing the comments made, where they state that there is a lack of habitat, this is purely not the case. We have a great deal of excellent habitat, yes it can always be better, but that is not the main problem.

The problem is uncontrolled predator populations.

We always hear comments that we do not have the right to mess with mother nature and we should let nature take its natural course. If this were true, then why do we have hospitals, or why do we put out forest fires or have flood control or why do we step forward with assistance when there is a natural disaster? Why do we not just let nature take its natural course?

Our job on this planet today is to assist with the balance of nature, to make sure that one aspect of nature does not damage another. Programs like what we are talking about here are to enhance wildlife so long-term benefits can be enjoyed by all.

Warren LaFave,  Kelowna

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