Canis lupus (C. lupus) is endangered in many parts of its former territory accross the northern hemishpere. In Canada, wolves are not protected outside of National Parks. Studies have shown us that these designated wilderness areas are not big enough to maintain a healthy population of wolves, and are too small to effectively conserve biodiversity (Natural Resources Canada, 2007).
The Central Rockies represents a unique ecological region of Canada, and Grey wolves (C. lupus) here have geographically distinct subpopulations, different from B.C.'s coastal wolves and Eastern Canada's red wolves (C. rufus). The Central Rocky Mountain Corridor, from Jasper National Park (Alberta) to Glacier National Park (Montana), is essential in maintaining a healthy gene flow in wolf populations between Canada and the United States.
We hope that forming a coalition of wolf advocates will help us to reach the goal of protecting the corridor. We need to pass legislation to perpetuate existing populations where they occur, as recommended by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) guidelines on wolf conservation, (Hummel & Pettigrew, 1991). NLW is appealing to federal Environment Minister John Baird to create Buffer Zones to protect wolves around the 7 National Parks in the Canadian Central Rocky Mountains.
In the past few decades, human use has intensified both within parks and just outside of these protected areas. Pressures from industrial, commercial, and recreational activities are compromising the ecological integrity of these wilderness areas, (CPAWS, 2007). Because of this, the IUCN Manifesto on Wolf Conservation states that the importance and status of wolves should be taken into account by legislation and in planning for the future of any region, (Hummel & Pettigrew, 1991).
A broad legislative tool governing buffer zones would enable us to properly manage the land use of areas adjacent to protected land. Incompatible land use has been ranked as the most serious threat to parks and protected areas by most Park jurisdictions across Canada, (Environment Canada, 2006). A World Wolf Congress held in 2003 agreed that co-operation between neighbouring jurisdiction is needed to ensure the survival of wolves in the central Rockies, (Alberta Wildlife Enhancement Society, 2003).
The buffer zone requested would be 200km, and would effectively:
1. ban the hunting, trapping, or chasing of wolves year round;
2. restrict the use of motorized recreational vehicles (Banff National Park [BNP] has already asked the province of Alberta to limit access to motorized vehicles surrounding the Park, (Syme, 2003);
3. limit land use development to non-commercial and non resource extraction.
Biologists researching wolves on behalf of Parks Canada have recognized C. lupus as a keystone species, capable of causing a trophic cascade when populations dip below a critical threshold (Hurd, et al. 2002), (Hebblewhite, et al. 2005). As the number of grey wolves declines in the Central Rockies, a cascade effect is observed in which small mammals, fish, insects, birds, amphibians, ungulates, tree species and vegetation all suffer, ( Hebblewhite, et al. 2005). Top predators, such as wolves, are vital in maintaining the balance of a healthy ecosystem.
We wish to prevent a trophic cascade within our Parks by increasing the protected areas of C. lupus, (Hurd, et al. 2002), and (Ellis, 2002).
These 7 National Parks (Banff, Yoho, Jasper, Kootenay, Mount Revelstoke, Glacier, Waterton) are currently reviewing their Park Management Strategies, and accepting input to help shape plan revisions (Parks Canada Newsletter, 2008). This provides an excellent opportunity to enlarge protected areas for wolves whose territories extend beyond the boundaries of these parks. Lets work together!
Canada still has one of the healthiest wolf populations in the world. On a global basis, this provides us with a unique and vital conservation opportunity. Canada has a chance to do something no other country has done: deliberately to conserve healthy wild populations of different types of wolves on one of the last landscapes still capable of supporting such a conservation goal, (Hummel & Pettigrew, 1991). If we wait too long we will continue to lose biodiversity.
Wilderness tourism can mean long-term financial benefits for our country. For example, wolves reintroduced to the Greater Yellowstone area benefits the U.S. Northern Rockies' economy to the tune of $35-million tourist dollars annually (Defenders of Wildlife, 2006). By protecting large carnivores and intact ecosystems, we can attract millions of tourism dollars. If we're not saving top predators, we're not saving true wilderness. And if we are not saving true wilderness, we will not save top predators (Hummel & Pettigrew, 1991).
The World Wildlife Fund tells us history has shown that, if deliberate efforts are not made to conserve large carnivores, they are doomed, (Hummel & Pettigrew, 1991).
Ask yourselves as Canadians; What has the rest of the world taught us about the fate of wolves? Are we taking steps to ensure the same thing does not happen to our top predators?
We urge you to make this a priority in Canadian conservation. We are seeking organizations to join us in a Nation-wide wolf coalition to ensure a future for wolves in Canada. You can help by:
Martin Luther King points out that by remaining silent, we allow others to prevail. Let us howl until the moon comes down, until we are heard!
Background information can be found at: www.northernlightswildlife.com/bufferzones
Citations ref -http://www.bedfordstmartins.com/online/cite8.html
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1. We call on the federal government to review and improve environmental policy and regulation for wolves living in and around the National Parks in the Central Rocky Mountains.
2. We ask that you explain federal policy and involvement, as well as future plans for wolf management in and around the National Parks in the Central Rocky Mountains. If a management plan exists, what is it? If there is no National Wolf Management Plan, will you put a program in place to ensure that action is taken in a timely manner?
3. We ask that you provide information on what is currently being done to reduce the mortality rates of wolves in National Parks in the Central Rocky Mountains that step beyond park boundaries, while remaining in their territory. If there is nothing being done, will steps be initiated and what will they be?
4. We urge you to introduce legislation that would create a 200 km buffer zone surrounding each National Park in the Central Canadian Rockies, affecting land use changes to:
1. Permanently ban the hunting, trapping or chasing of
2. Restrict the use of motorized recreational vehicles
3. Establish policy for land management use to restrict the
development of commercial, industrial, or resource
extraction practices. At the very least we must limit road development and deactivate roads once no longer in use, minimize access management and enforce garbage management.
Background information for policy and decision-makers: