MSN for Wolves?

August 5, 2008 at 3:08 am 1 comment

From the Minneapolis Star-Tribune:

The newest residents at Forest Lake’s Wildlife Science Center will play a key role in wolf study. 

Four, 10-day old Canadian wolf pups arrived at the center back in May.

Canadian pups being greeted by the Minnesota pack.

Canadian pups being greeted by the Minnesota pack.

They traveled all the way from British Columbia on a very special mission: to participate in a potentially groundbreaking study that researchers hope will reveal better ways to manage Canada’s wolf population.

The study, the result of an unusual alliance between two countries, began when a Canadian veterinarian called the Wildlife Science Center and asked whether it would be willing to take the wolf pups.

According to the Vancouver Sun:

The idea is that keeping wolf packs small allows the sterilized alpha pair to defend its territories, while letting more elk live.

But author and zoologist Paul Paquet, an expert on wolf research, called the experiment “destructive and morally reprehensible.”

Paquet said it’s difficult to label this as legitimate research, particularly because these are already disturbed wolf packs subject to hunting and trapping.

Eww Canada….

Parks Canada has voiced its opposition to any wolf control to increase elk densities, saying predator control in the 1960s created unnaturally high prey densities and problems that are still prevalent.

In particular, they have concerns about two wolf packs whose territories take in both provincial and federal lands, including a pack between Banff and Jasper.

Jim Pissot, executive director of Canmore-based Defenders of Wildlife Canada, said this appears to be another “bone-headed wolf cull poorly disguised as research.”

He said wolves typically take down weaker animals, while humans take out the strongest and best-adapted animals in the elk herd: bulls.

Apparently some time between March (when the Sun article was published) and May (when the Star-Tribune article came out) there was a change of heart somewhere.  The original plan was to killeuthanize all the wolf pups and sterilize the alpha pairs.  According to the Star Trib:

But now Canadian officials are exploring another option: sterilizing the wolves.

The Wildlife Science Center, a nationally known research and education facility that specializes in wolves and other predators, has teamed up with the Ministry of Environment of British Columbia and a top reproductive physiologist at the St. Louis Zoo to develop a way to sterilize the wolves from afar.

Sterilization is better than death – but why can’t we find better ways to balance the needs of two- and four-legged hunters?  Are trophy elk worth more than wolves?

Entry filed under: science, wildlife. Tags: , .

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Audie's Gramma  |  August 5, 2008 at 5:02 am

    Anyone who has spent any time observing wild animals and reflecting on their lives won’t buy the “Why can’t we just neuter them?” yabber that usually comes from PeTA freaks and the fuzzy bunny crowd.

    Disrupting animals’ normal reproduction disrupts their social structures. They cannot live the lives appropriate to their species without the cycle of estrus/rut, courting, mating, pregnancy, parturition, and rearing young.

    I usually encounter the starry-eyed castraters when the subject of deer overpopulation comes up. They are still blubbering about Bambi’s mother, and will never be susceptible to any sense about real animals.

    In this case, it’s cynical “hunters” and their political lapdogs, sticking their fingers in their ears and shrieking “I can’t hear you!” to biological facts that Aldo Leopold laid out when their grandfathers were boys.

    Oh — and know what a sterile alpha pair is called in a wolf pack?

    The former alpha pair.

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