The balance of hunting animals and maintaining their population is a difficult and delicate system to manage. A season of overhunting can influence not only that hunted animal’s population but also other animal populations that are dependent on that given animal for survival. This balance is being thrown off right in the North American continent with moose, wolf and caribou populations in Canada.
Research has found that if you let people hunt more moose, the population of wolves decrease and the population of caribou increase. This creates a strange approach to managing wildlife populations while hunting. Because wolves feed off of moose, their ability to sustain life is decreased due to their lack of a food source. A “band-aid” solution to this situation is to hunt or kill the wolves. It would not solve the overall problem but would be a quick fix for the change in hunting dynamic.
The True Problem
A major source of the problem also comes from logging. In the southern region of British Columbia, the logging industry has affected the lichen-rich woodlands that caribou lives off of. The loss of trees also makes it an ideal environment for moose.The wolves follow their prey (moose) into the new territory. They also then prey on the caribou along with the moose. The end result is some caribou are facing extreme population decreases. Not only is logging adding to the problem, forest fires due to climate change are also destroying caribou’s natural habitat.
Another solution to this issue would be killing off the wolves. This has been done in Alberta to help stabilize the population of the Little Smoky caribou herd. Other than slowly killing off wolves over the course of a few years, the British Columbia provincial government introduced a long-term solution by increasing quotas for the number of how many moose hunters could harvest. If the hunters shot more moose than fewer wolves would infiltrate the affected areas.
The decisions of how to properly manage the delicate system of prey versus predator in Canadian land can be controversial. The mutual understanding that the environmental changes impose the risk of potential extinction is prevalent throughout the country. Yet, the methods of how to continue a healthy animal food chain in these areas are quite controversial.
A single given method may not work. It will take time and various approaches to find proper solutions to the issue. Whether it be managing one of the predators or introducing a new prey, there are many different levels to the problem that must be solved.