Managing our wildlife

Here in British Columbia, we have the most diverse province in Canada for wildlife.

It is a delicate balance to keep sustainable numbers co-existing with human encroachment. Habitat loss from cities, highways, and agriculture has eliminated mass amounts of stable wildlife populations, and also removed migration routes and created genetic isolation in certain areas.

Resource extraction, mainly the linear features associated with this, has caused an imbalance in predator and prey relationships. Roads, oil and gas transmission lines, power lines, well sites, are just some examples that disrupt the natural hunting habits of predators, especially wolves.

It is a hot topic these days, and the opposition to manage wolves is strong, especially in the Lower Mainland.

Yes, humans have initially caused this imbalance, and it is not going away while we humans live like we do. But if we are to have caribou, elk, deer, moose, and all the other wild creatures left in this province, scientifically managing wildlife is what is needed, and that includes removing surplus predators.

It’s easy just to say “leave wildlife alone, they manage themselves,” when reality now isn’t always just that easy.

Yes, wildife goes through cycles of high numbers of prey to low numbers of prey, resulting in the natural starvation deaths of predators, and then it would repeat itself.

But In this human-manipulated landscape, predators have an unfair advantage of moving from A to B without using as much energy as historically they would have needed. This results in constant high litters, and easy hunting of prey animals.

This is easily seen in the caribou populations in this province, as recent studies show that over 70% of caribou mortality is caused by wolves.

There are many study papers showing that when wolf removal is implemented, caribou numbers rebound into sustainable herd populations.

Predator management is an important tool that we must use now while we implement more long-term strategies to have sustainable populations back in those areas.

Even still, wildife will always need to be managed. That is, if we all agree we want these beautiful creatures here alongside us in the centuries to come. 

Scotty Girling 

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