Global Science Group Criticizes Alberta Wolf Bounties, Says They Don't Work

Article excerpt

Scientists criticize Alberta wolf bounties

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EDMONTON - Alberta programs that offer cash for dead wolves are obsolete and ineffective and the provincial government should take steps to forbid them, says the world's largest network of conservation scientists.

In a letter to Alberta Premier Alison Redford, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature asks the government to "eliminate the archaic and out-dated methods of wolf bounty payments."

But defenders of the program say wolf populations are growing in Alberta and something needs to be done to keep them in check.

Last spring, environmentalists warned that privately-funded bounties for killing wolves are shifting control over Alberta's wildlife management to special interest groups.

They pointed out that at least six municipal districts, as well as two branches of the Alberta Fish and Game Association, were paying wolf bounties of up to $500 per wolf -- several times the value of the animal's pelt.

U.S. hunting groups such as the Wild Sheep Foundation have paid out thousands of dollars on wolf bounties through local fish and game clubs.

As of last spring, at least 643 bounties had been paid out in Alberta, they said.

The information about bounties spurred the international union, which advises the United Nations on conservation matters, to write letters to both Redford and Alberta Environment Minister Robin Campbell.

"The bounty payments ... are (an) ineffective method of predator management and would be unacceptable in many countries around the world," said the Feb. 4 letter.

Bounties don't target the specific wolves and wolf packs that attack livestock and reduce big-game populations, said Lu Carbyn, a University of Alberta biologist and member of the union's canid specialist group. …