The senseless wolf hunting in Canada: Why it needs to end
From big-game hunting to trophy hunting to simple recreation, the passion for killing animals – especially larger predators – has been commonplace dating as far back as our earliest recorded history.
Sometimes the killing of animals is even mandated, like when the Australian government enacted a plan to kill 2 million feral cats in 2015 because their growing population was threatening other indigenous species. Canada has decided to do the same with wolves, a decision critics have deemed senseless – and it needs to end.
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Why are Canadians killing wolves?
According to The Atlantic, over 463 wolves were killed this past winter by hunters in British Columbia. In a government-regulated desire to reduce the threat of an expanding population of animals, the reported aim of this “cull” was to actually save the population of an endangered animal – the mountain caribou.
As if the killing of such beautiful, large predators weren’t controversial enough on its own, the suggestion apparently came from a scientific research paper published by researchers at the University of Alberta. But what conclusions could researchers make that would lead to such an extreme decision?
Canada’s wolf hunt: The study
A caribou biologist named Robert Serrouya helped lead the study, determining that a very practical way to aid the vanishing caribou population was to kill its number-one predator, the wolf.
Needless to say the proposal was polarizing between various groups, but with time and options running out, a plan had to be put into effect.
A conservationist with the University of Victory named Chris Dairmont also worked on the study, and he was frank by admitting, “It’s a pretty desperate time for caribou, and people . . . were very interested in the prospect of a solution.”
As winter approached, the Canadian government turned back on allocating more protected land for their diminishing caribou, and adopted a “new wolf-cull” program instead. To justify their decision, they referred to the revolutionary study put out by the conservation scientists.
Errors led to senseless wolf hunting
By the time winter was through, the damage was done. Hundreds of wolves were killed by the government-backed program, appearing to be a relative success. That is, until recently this year when a new group of scientists came together to publish a new article – one that deemed the government’s decision was based on a study with a critical flaw.
Published in Biodiversity and Conservation, an ecologist and statistician named Viktoria Wagner – also from the University of Alberta – led the creation of a paper that refuted Serrouya’s original findings. What they found were some strange “irregularities” according to The Atlantic, such as using very low sample sizes for studying populations.
Perhaps the most controversial mistake of all was the decision to ignore something called a “null model.” Scientists use models as the basis for predictions, like if killing wolves will facilitate caribou survival. But a null model is one that tests every possible assumption – including that none of decided factors will work in the first place.
Will Canada’s wolf hunting end?
Wagner’s new paper published in collaboration with other skeptic colleagues revealed a simple truth: when the aforementioned “null model” was run, it found the outcomes to be the same as the model of killing wolves. To keep it more simple – they would both work to the same extent, with or without any wolves dying.
So the decision to create policy out of the 2019 study by Serrouya was one based on flawed, incorrect statistics in the first place. Because of this decision, 463 wolves were slaughtered. Although the wolf populations in Canada are labeled as being resilient to decline, it’s hard to downplay their importance to the balance of their ecosystem.
Caribou still continue to die as well, losing numbers to deforestation caused by logging industries and organizations that push caribou out of their native habitats to secure expensive natural resources located underground. They are also still being killed by large, natural predators that don’t include the likes of wolves.
The future of Canada’s wolves
Following the publication of these new findings, there have been little to no comments made by the Canadian government – maybe they’ve decided to perform their own thorough research this time around. Plenty of people have jumped onto social media to voice their support against the continuation of this “unethical” practice.
It can’t be denied that the harm done to Canada’s wolves has been irreversible for the time being. We can only hope that an equal balance of open-mindedness and skepticism will direct officials to make the next best decision to help save Canada’s caribou population – you know, one that doesn’t include driving wolves to extinction next.