Wolf biologist to speak in Courtenay

Wolf biologist Sadie Parr will be in the Comox Valley Jan. 27 to discuss the provincial wolf kill program, along with the ecology of the animal and how it relates to ecosystems.

The B.C. government is proposing to lengthen the wolf trapping season on Vancouver Island from Sept. 10 to June 30. As it stands, the season runs from Nov. 1 to June 30. Government says inventory and monitoring of wolf populations is costly and difficult, and that aerial-based inventory methods don’t work because wolves are elusive. Much of the information gathered about wolves is anecdotal, with a reliance on public sightings and observations.

“Trapping wolves when their pelt doesn’t even have any value — it’s essentially treating them as garbage,” said Parr, the executive director of Wolf Awareness. “It’s very sad that as soon as we interpret an expansion of the population, which might or might not be happening, the government’s first instinct is to try to kill more of them…On a large scale, wolf killing creates a lot of ecological repercussions. They’re claiming that people are seeing more evidence of wolves, and a reduction in deer population. That’s part of the motivation.”

Since the release of a 2014 Wolf Management Plan, Parr said government has been painting the animal in a poor light, increasing killing programs in various ways.

“We’ve increased seasons, we have increased killing for livestock purposes, and we’ve increased killing them under the guise of endangered species conservation. There’s nothing science-based about this type of management. It can lead to more conflicts, by disrupting the social order of a wolf pack.”

Parr does not buy into the rationale about contributing to Canada’s economy by contributing to the export of fur.

“I don’t feel very proud about an economy based on that. That’s not killing for cultural purposes, that’s exporting lives to make money, and unravelling our ecosystem in the process…Disrupting that social order can also cause more wolves to breed. Killing them indiscriminately, through trapping or hunting, leads to unreliable results. It has never successfully been shown to increase ungulate populations long-term. People have to understand that populations ebb and flow. The thing about killing wolves on a small-scale is ineffective at reducing numbers. Wolves are resilient, but if we kill one of the breeders, or disrupt that social structure of the pack, it can end up having more breeding individuals…Essentially you’d be creating a vacuum.”

Courtenay is one of the stops on Parr’s tour, Let’s Talk Wolf — Behind the Smokescreen. She speaks at 1 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 27 at the Fallen Alders Community Hall at 3595 Royston Rd. Admission is free.

RSVP at info@oceanadventures.bc.ca as seating is limited.

Donations to Wolf Awareness will be gratefully received.

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