The Campbell/Clark government has done it again. Now wolves will be wiped out in BC because, it’s alleged (by ranchers), that their cattle are being slaughtered by wolves. Ranchers are friends of the government while wolves are not. The constituencies where cattle are ranched are constituencies the Liberals must win if they’re to win the next election.
Wolves are endangered such that Americans are bringing them back to National Parks in order to keep the species alive. Noble as that is, it’s rather a surrender to the same troglodytes who slaughtered the buffalo (bison) with the last vestiges now in parks, not on the plains, reduced to being objects of tourist’s cameras.
The wolf has had a terrible press over the years from writers of fairy tales to ranchers. In fact they are a magnificent example of highly developed animals that, in contradistinction to us humans, mate for life and are part of a pack led by an alpha male. Humans should have their sense of community.
There is a very strong moral argument, an argument ranchers deride as condominium conservationist stuff from the big city.
I have news for them. I live in Lions Bay where black bears abound and if they attack anything living aside from spawning salmon, it’s human beings. We get a “bear warning” in Spring which lasts until late Fall. Despite the danger, I know of no fellow citizen who would want bears murdered. I have seen several bears on our streets over the 11 years I’ve been here plus several coyotes and one cougar. Our view is that we’re in their habitat, not the other way around.
It is important to understand nature’s way of dealing with wolves. They will kill and devour ungulates (deer, caribou etc), invariably the weak ones, until their numbers deplete to the point that wolves starve and the ungulates replenish their numbers and on it goes as it has for thousands of years.
Into this mix arrived ranchers and cattle. This meant that when the ungulates were down, the cow became prey. As we will see, the number of cattle they kill is minuscule and wolves were a known part of life when ranchers moved in.
It’s rare that wolves attack anything other than small animals until winter when small animals are not around, which brings me back to the second question (above) “What the hell are cattle doing out on the range in the winter?”
For me, it’s as Yogi Berra is alleged to have said, “Déjà vu all over again”.
Over 30 years ago I became Minister of Environment and I immediately stopped the slaughter of wolves in British Columbia. When I left the ministry for Health, Tony Brummett, from the heart of rancher land in the Peace River region, and the great hope of the ranchers, maintained the moratorium as has every Environment Minister since until we reach the Campbell/Clark government which now encourages hunting and killing of wolves a 24 hour a day, 365 day of the year season.
A story about life as a member of Bill Bennett’s cabinet.
When the Tsawwassen overhead wire issue was being fought I spoke to several rallies and continuously asked where the Liberal MLA, Val Roddick, was, observing that usually you couldn’t shut her up.
A lady, an obvious government supporter, came up to me after one such rally and said “I’ll bet you didn’t go to these sorts of rallies when you were in government.”
My reply: when I banned the killing of wolves, a Socred backbencher, Cyril Shelford and his seemingly unending list of brothers arranged a rally in Smithers and I was dared to attend.
I did, and it was scary to see 500 or more angry ranchers wanting my scalp – literally.
I then said to the lady, “you probably think I was very brave?”
She allowed that she did to which I replied, “it had bugger-all to do with courage; if I hadn’t gone, Premier Bennett would have turfed my ass out of cabinet.”
I tell that story to demonstrate the size of the storm created by my decision.
In order to satisfy myself that the ranchers had blown the issue out of all proportion I sent a Kamloops man, once a Fish and Game officer, the late George “Sandy” Sandiford, to go on a swing throughout the appropriate parts of the province then give me his impressions as to whether wolves were destroying huge amounts of cattle.
After about four weeks he reported to me, in his characteristic way, “it’s mostly bullshit – what the ranchers really want is compensation for any losses, it being assumed that they were all killed by wolves”.
He recounted an especially forceful argument of ranchers, which was told as three separate incidents where wolves drove a herd of cattle onto a frozen lake and the ice fractured leaving the cattle at the mercies of the rapacious wolves. Three times this happened in different lakes!
You will, no doubt, be asking yourself “how did the wolves avoid drowning too?” and, “what the hell were a herd of cattle doing on the range in the dead of winter?”
In Anecdotal evidence not good enough to justify wolf kill in the Vancouver Sun, on Friday the 5th, the estimable Stephen Hume makes the obvious point that there’s a paucity of evidence that wolves are a serious threat to cattle. He points out a survey in 2003 (that it’s far back because the Campbell/Clark government has made the Environment Ministry into a phantom post in which to deposit MLAs who are so grateful to be in cabinet, thus they go along and make no discernible waves).
In that report it was estimated that 93-95% of cattle lost were due to a great many other hazards such as “disease, toxic flora, calving problems, bad weather, getting hung up in the ubiquity of barbed wire fences, hit by vehicles, or killed and butchered by rustlers. There is no evidence of any basic change in the circumstances since my time as minister.
As I said, what ranchers seek is compensation for every cow lost, it being assumed that a wolf did it.
The wolf is a marvelous animal with a great sense of community. The same cultural immorality that has wolves endangered would eliminate grizzly bears, black bears, coyotes, cougars. Tragically, it’s the same ilk that destroy sharks so that oriental gentlemen can get erections and have their restaurants carry shark fin soup. Their counterparts poach wildlife in Africa such as wildebeests. Elephants and Rhinos and nail tigers and elephants in Asia.
What this wolf kill demonstrates is not only the complete lack of understanding of wolves by the Campbell/Clark government but their willingness to pander to their supporters without any science to support them at the expense of an environment which, to them, is a nuisance and a hindrance to development by their corporate donors.
It’s not just wolves but the desecration of wild salmon by fish farms; the ruination of rivers and their fauna and flora so that their private sector pals can produce power we don’t need; it’s the destruction of Agriculture and Wildlife Preserves that fortify (as if fortifying was needed) the evidence that this government does not give a damn about the outdoors, the treasured legacy we received but, thanks to the Campbell/Clark government, will not be intact for the next generation.
(I refer to it as the Campbell/Clark government not to be a smarty pants but because it’s a fair description of 12 years of government in which Gordon Campbell was head for 11 and was supported by Christy Clark when she was a senior cabinet minister and supported by her by not uttering a murmur of dissent when she was an open line broadcaster and has done nothing to alter since she has been premier).
It must be remembered that this is a government that cares little for anything but rightwing philosophy, regarding the Fraser Institute as their guiding guru. Kevin Falcon, now the 2nd most powerful minister, said when Transportation Minister and said seriously “(the Chinese) don’t have the labour or environmental restrictions we do. It’s not like they have to do community consultations. They just say ‘we’re building a bridge’ and they move everyone out of there and get going within two weeks. Could you imagine if we could build like that?”
We pride ourselves on being “Supernatural British Columbia” as our government does all it can to destroy that heritage and do so as fast as it can so that like the omelet, it can never go back to its original form.
My opposition to this mob of disgraceful destroyers of our beautiful province is not just bewilderment, not just sadness, not just anger and disgust, but also of profound embarrassment that we the people have elected these bastards three times and might do so again.