Somewhere in British Columbia, Canada, a wolf and his pack is on the move. And no one would know exactly where he and his friends are, expect that he’s been fitted with a radio collar, and every four hours, his location is beamed up to a satellite. But this isn’t a case of researchers tracking a wolf to learn about the migratory pattern of his species… Every so often, a government team takes the wolf’s location and flies a helicopter to his side. And then the unthinkable happens. The collared wolf watches as the rest of his pack be gunned down. Then, alone in the woods among the bodies of his pack members, he’s forced to be on his own until at some point, he’ll join another pack and life will be good again. That is, until that same helicopter returns to make his life a living hell once again. It’s all part of the British Columbia government’s attempt to save the endangered mountain caribou. But now animal lovers are questioning the government’s conservation approach and they’re rallying for the wolves to be spared.
The British Columbia government’s plan is to slaughter up to 200 wolves a year, which it believes will help the tiny caribou population rebound. And as part of the five-year “caribou recovery plan,” the government hired Bighorn Helicopters to help kill wolves in the province’s South Peace and South Selkirk regions.
But conservation groups like the Wildlife Defence League and Pacific Wild argue that industrialization, deforestation, and other manmade causes are what have really caused the caribou population to dwindle. And they contend that the wolves are being scapegoated in order to cover for the government’s shoddy research.
When the Wildlife Defence League first started working on the issue, it head rumors of a so-called “Judas wolf” that had been fitted with a radio collar that Bighorn Helicopters used to track him so they could kill his entire wolf pack. And now the group has evidence that the wolf actually exists.
In an audio recording obtained by the Wildlife Defence League, a source explains that the Judas wolf’s collar reports his location to a satellite every four hours, making it easy for Bighorn helicopters to find him and kill the other members of his wolf pack. The source even boasted about how easy it is to collar a wolf: “They’re a piece of cake to work on. I have a video of one I did. Its tail is wagging, just like a dog.”
But the most disturbing fact about the operation is that the wolf is kept alive year after year so that the government can continue to track it and kill any wolves that the Judas wolf joins in the future.
Tommy Knowles of the Wildlife Defence League told The Dodo: “When we heard the individual in the recording disclose information about the Judas wolf, it was truly heartbreaking. To think that this wolf had watched his entire pack slaughtered before his eyes, only to be left alive, is unimaginable. If watching your family killed year after year by snipers in helicopters is what this government considers a ‘humane’ cull, I shudder to imagine what they consider inhumane.”
According to Marc Bekoff’s “The Emotional Lives of Animals,” wolves experience deep and complex emotions just like humans do. For example, wolves who lose a pack member become depressed, hang their heads and tails low, and refuse to leave their dead loved one’s body. And they’ve even been reported to howl mournfully after a pack member dies. So for the Judas wolf, life is a vicious cycle. He finds new friends and joins their pack, only to see them all slaughtered, before he moves on to meet new friends and the cycle repeats. Unbelievable!
Besides the audio evidence, the Wildlife Defence League also managed to photograph a wolf from a trail camera placed in the South Selkirk region. Based on its location, the wolf is either one of the slain wolves or even the Judas wolf himself before he was collared.
Knowles says: “It’s absolutely tragic to think he may still be out there alone, after watching his entire pack get slaughtered. Whoever the wolf in the photograph may be, the cull now has a face.”
How awful is it that these beautiful creatures are being culled to protect caribou when they aren’t even the cause of the the caribous’ dwindling numbers! And it’s especially sad knowing that the Judas wolf is out there unknowingly helping the government’s plan.
If you also think it’s terrible that wolves are being needlessly killed in British Columbia, learn more on the Wildlife Defence League’s “Never Cry Wolf” campaign page. And please share this article to help get the word out.
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