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The Time Has Come for a Different Way of ‘Managing’ Canada’s Wildlife

The Time Has Come for a Different Way of ‘Managing’ Canada’s Wildlife

This article was co-authored by Raincoast Conservation Foundation senior scientist Dr. Paul Paquet.

The senseless killing of Cecil the lion has catalyzed a worldwide discussion about the gratuitous trophy hunting of large carnivores. In Western Canada, countless “Cecils” are killed in an equally senseless manner each and every year for the amusement, pleasure and excitement of recreational hunters.

From the killing of wolves in Alberta and British Columbia to the insupportable B.C. grizzly bear hunt to Saskatchewan’s coyote carnage, large carnivores are persecuted in Western Canada by way of an anachronistic approach to wildlife management that relies on suffering and death as its primary tool. The chief purveyors and ideological proponents of this faulty and antiquated model are government ministries responsible for wildlife management and trophy hunting special interest groups. Moreover, they are rapidly falling out of favour with much of society as their excesses and biases steadily become more widely known. Clearly, the time has come for a different way of “managing” wildlife.

Dr. Marc Bekoff, one of the foremost proponents and thinkers in the evolving field of compassionate conservation, writes that, “Compassionate conservation, in which the guiding principle ‘First do no harm’ stresses the importance of individual nonhuman animals, is gaining increasing global attention because most animals need considerably more protection than they are currently receiving and many people can no longer justify or stomach harming and killing animals in the name of conservation.”

Too often conservation and wildlife management primarily focus on the maintenance of population numbers. We forget that wild populations are made up of individuals that can suffer stress and pain, which we deem unacceptable for companion animals that share our homes and those we farm to eat. Although suffering is a feature of a wild life, the human induced suffering caused by sport hunting and lethal predator control, such as the B.C. and Alberta wolf culls, is not.

In Western Canada, thousands of large carnivores are killed annually under the guise of conservation and wildlife management, which principally equates to the recreational hunting of wolves, grizzly bears, black bears, cougars and other large carnivores. In addition, these animals are continually tyrannized in the name of predator control, as large carnivores are scapegoated for the decline of everything from marmots to mountain caribou.

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