Alberta poison program kills more wildlife than wolves

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Tuesday, 7 November, 2017

New data uncovered through a Government of Alberta Freedom of Information Act request underscores the urgent need to stop the cruel and unethical poisoning of predators in Canada.

Between 2012 and 2017, 168 animals were reported killed from strychnine poisoning in the Little Smoky region of Alberta. Fewer than half of these – 65 - were wolves, the intended target.  Shockingly, over 60% of the animals killed by poison laid the Government of Alberta killed were “non-target” animals, including ravens, lynx, fishers, marten, coyotes, golden eagles, bald eagles, and a grizzly bear – an animal that is itself listed as threatened under Alberta’s Wildlife Act.

“Canada must stop the archaic and indefensible practice of poisoning our wildlife,” said Sheryl Fink, Wildlife Campaigns Director at IFAW Canada. “The use of poisons such as strychnine is indiscriminate and inhumane, and kills far more non-target animals than wolves, including endangered species.

The FOI request was received by Sadie Parr, Director of Wolf Awareness Inc. “Canada’s long-outdated policies continue to allow the use of strychnine and other reckless and violent poisons to kill wolves and other wildlife. We need to get to the root causes of human-wildlife conflict issues and address them by changing human behaviour. Killing wolves is never the solution” said Parr.

Decision makers have known for years that poison kills far more animals than those it is intended to target.  An earlier study in the Little Smoky region indicates that between 2005 and 2012, 169 animals including lynx, fisher, marten, coyotes, ravens, and foxes were killed, in addition to 154 wolves.

In both cases, the mortality reports are underestimates as they account for only those animals retrieved and reported.  Depending on the dose consumed, strychnine can take hours to days to kill, and poisoned animals often die far from bait sites. Strychnine is highly persistent and can also remain in the carcasses of victims, resulting in further poisoning of scavenging animals who feed upon it.

The poisoning campaign is part of the Government of Alberta’s recovery plan for the woodland caribou, which are threatened with extinction. However, many scientists argue that killing wolves is unlikely to improve the survival of caribou, nor prevent their continued decline, since habitat degradation by resource industries and recreational access and activities is the ultimate threat to their survival.

The International Fund for Animal Welfare is calling on the Governments of Canada and Alberta to end to the cruel and unethical use of strychnine and other poisons to kill wolves. To take action and learn how you can help, click here.

About IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare)

Founded in Canada in 1969, IFAW rescues and protects animals around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals, and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. For more information, visit www.ifaw.org. Follow us on social @action4ifaw and Facebook/IFAW.

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