The Predator Problem

wolf track

Wolf tracks are appearing in places they haven't been in decades.

I first saw wolf tracks in one of my favorite deer hunting areas last November. They could have been big-dog tracks, so I didn’t think too much about them until the last week of November when I actually heard a wolf howl and found some wolf beds at the top of a ridge. Now, this area is about an hour west of Edmonton, and over 20 years of hunting this area, this was the first time I had seen any evidence of wolves. As I outlined in my July Alberta Outdoorsmen column, large predators such as wolves and cougars have been expanding their ranges east from the Rocky Mountains and foothills. Cougars have been seen in the Edmonton area for many years now. One has killed a deer in my back woodlot each of the last couple of years. But wolves are a relatively new addition to land they haven’t occupied for decades.

Hunters often consider large predators competitors, and over the years have joined farmers and ranchers in demanding predator numbers be controlled. But wildlife biology has demonstrated that predators have their roles to play in the ecosystem. So control programs are only implemented when necessary and then at the risk of poking the public’s outrage. However, as these wolves invade ranch lands from which they were extirpated decades ago, it will be interesting to see how the government reacts to ranchers’ concerns.

So, what’s wrong with that?

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About Don Meredith

I am a writer and biologist living in Alberta, Canada. I wrote a monthly column for the Alberta Outdoorsmen magazine, and have published articles for several other magazines.
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