Canadian government decides poisoning wolves will save caribou from tar sands

By Jeremy Symons / National Wildlife Federation

The toll of tar sands development has been largely hidden hundreds of miles to the North. Canadian forests once provided the last undisturbed refuge in North America for migrating songbirds, ducks and geese, and the vast stretches of wilderness in northern Alberta have been ideal for wild wolves and caribou that have thrived in balance with nations of native Canadians for countless generations. But that was all before oil companies moved in and took control of the Albertan government.

Alberta’s carefully constructed web of secrecy was pierced this week by news that Canada is planning to poison thousands of wolves in a desperate effort to save caribou decimated by oil development. Recent scientific studies have proved that Canada’s Woodland caribou herds are heading toward extinction due to habitat destruction from tar sands and other oil development. Today’s Los Angeles Times article sums up the story:

Woodland caribou herds in Canada are declining, and tar sands development is a big part of the reason why. But Canada’s national and provincial governments know what do about that: Kill the wolves.

The news was uncovered by the National Wildlife Federation, whose biologists concluded:

Canada’s proposed solution to habitat destruction from tar sands development is to destroy the wolves that prey on caribou, instead of protecting their habitat.Two particularly repugnant methods of destroying wolves — shooting wolves from helicopters and poisoning wolves with baits laced with strychnine — would be carried out in response to the caribou declines. Strychnine is a deadly poison known for an excruciating death that progresses painfully from muscle spasms to convulsions to suffocation, over a period of hours. Wildlife officials will place strychnine baits on the ground or spread them from aircraft in areas they know wolves inhabit. In addition to wolves, non-target animals like raptors, wolverines and cougars will be at risk from eating the poisoned baits or scavenging on the deadly carcasses of poisoned wildlife.

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