|ARTICLES: June 30, 2012|
|Rampant Wolf Attacks Plague Livestock|
|By Ian Cowie
Updated 3 days ago
Merle Arthur was forced to put down his beloved Mammoth Donkey after it was brutally attacked
MAYERTHORPE - Even though more than 30 wolves have been killed in the last year alone, farmers in the Mayerthorpe area remain extremely concerned about an increase in wolf predation.
Last year, incidents involving wolf attacks on livestock significantly increased, according to Greg Gilbertson, district Fish and Wildlife officer for Whitecourt and area.
“We have had significant problems with wolf predation in the last year in the Cottowood, Barrhead, Blue Ridge and Greencourt areas,” said Gilbertson.
“Fish and wildlife officers have recently investigated incidents regarding a probable wolf attack on a donkey, horse and calf, at two different locations near Conner Creek Provincial Grazing Reserve.”
Merle Arthur, owner of Mules & Ranch Vacations located 14 kilometres east of Mayerthorpe, recently had to put down his Mammoth Donkey after wolves viciously attacked it. According to Arthur, his donkey was protecting his 10 Mare’s and three baby foals.
“It is totally unbelievable to me that wolves got this donkey,” said Arthur. “You better believe he put up a fight.”
Last year, Arthur shot four wolves and 30 coyotes on his property and said that he has shot as many as eight in one year.
“I would say it’s gradually getting worse,” said Arthur.
Under the Alberta Wildlife Act, on private land the landowner is permitted to kill foxes, coyotes, wolves, black bears and cougars at any time of year without a hunting license.
However, if cougars are killed in this manner then they must be registered at a Fish and Wildlife office, said Gilbertson.
“I don’t get any compensation,” said Arthur who valued his donkey at $5,000 to $6000. “I spent two years training him so he would pasture breed.”
Under the Alberta Wildlife Act, donkeys and horses are not considered as meat products and therefore the owner is not provided with any sort of compensation for his or her loss.
“Tell the wolves that my donkey isn’t a ‘meat product,’” said Arthur. “If them wolves got that donkey, there’s nothing they can’t get.”
Jim Burroughs is another farmer in the area who recently lost a calf in an unconfirmed wolf attack on his property on June 15.
“There has been more wolves coming in recent years,” said Burroughs. “I pack a gun every time I go out in the fields.”
It may be counter intuitive, but experts suggest that killing the wolves can actually create more problems than it alleviates.
Dr. Paul Paquet is an internationally recognized authority on wolves and has research experience all over the world, including Alberta.
“There is something cathartic about protecting your livestock,” said Paquet. “In the 50s and 60s, the wolf population was almost eliminated due to concerns of rabies, even though there were very few known cases.
There has been quite a transformation of landscape over the years due to the expansion of industry and agriculture, and as a result, we see large fluctuations in prey and predator populations.”
Gilbertson said he believes the healthy Timber Wolf population in the Mayerthorpe area is due to the significant amount of prey species available including deer, elk, and moose, which make use of the Athabasca River basin for food and water.
“It’s important to be vigilant on looking after your herd, including regular check-ups,” said Paquet. “Using donkey and guard dogs to protect of the herd can also be helpful, as well as the use of adequate fencing.”
Possibly the best method to reduce the likelihood of having an incident with a predator is removing attractors such as bone piles, said Paquet.
Paquet said incidents involving wolves are typically higher during the denning season—when pups are born—which in Alberta typically occurs between May and August.
|comments powered by Disqus|