Twerking for Wolves
by JDAC Mountie on September 25, 2015 - 10:56pm
Miley Cyrus, of Wrecking Ball fame, is swinging into the conservation arena with a battle cry and 28.8 million Instagrammers. The conservation organization Pacific Wild welcomed the popstar to B.C. recently to garner support for their #saveBCwolves campaign, which is advocating against a controversial program.
Last year the B.C. government imposed a wolf culling initiative in the South Selkirk Mountain region. The program, which is to last for five years and take hundreds of wolves, is overseen by the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations and has been implemented to stabilize the dramatically declining populations of certain caribou herds. Unlike the caribou, First Nation communities are reporting an overabundance of the carnivores in the area. This unbalance, combined with shrinking habitat, has lead wolves to prey on caribou more than they have historically, in addition to staple food sources for the Native communities.
Cyrus is promoting a petition to stop the culling altogether. B.C. Premier, Christy Clark, immediately rebuffed Cyrus's crusade and reiterated the importance of the cull. Clark stated,"I want to make sure that Miley knows that I'm willing to sit down and 'twerk' it out," (CTV News 2015) and commented on Cyrus's overall lack of clothing. These kinds of backhanded comments did nothing but damage the state's image and weaken the power of the provincial government to gain public support of the cull. The behavioral conflict that resulted from the comments dug a deeper trench between the state and its citizens. Even my 4 year old cousin knows not to insult someone before you ask to play in their sandbox.
Cyrus's professional opinion aside, she is bringing to light the management problems that the B.C. government has been tucking under the rug while bringing everyone's attention to the lovely new pipeline out the window. Scientists agree this plan might not work. The "too little, too late" trap has a secure hold on this issue. The uncertainty of this situation has led to a quagmire of legality, jurisdictional disputes and science that has yet to be able to focus on the fundamental problem: habitat destruction. While everyone agrees the survival of the caribou herds rely on immediate action, each stakeholder sees a different solution.
Value conflict is a big factor here. Biologists say that the government is putting too much value on caribou herds that have already effectively died out. Government officials counter, saying that a balanced ecosystem (and the threat of localized species extinction leaving an ugly stain on their record) is paramount and they have been doing a fine job of it, thank you very much. Conservation officials respectfully point out that this is actually all the government’s fault in the first place. The Canadian government put more value in the economic feedback that resulted from the expansion of oil and forestry in the region then the lives of the wildlife that inhabit there. This is evidenced by the fact that the government is simply reinstating a management technique from the ‘80s, in which hundreds of wolves were killed, instead of re-examining the problem. The problem is the government’s mismanagement of one its natural resources in favour of something with greater economic value. The government is guilty of implementing short term management practices instead of creating management techniques in conjunction with expanding industries in B.C.
Is culling pleasant? No. Is it sometimes necessary? Yes. Although habitat protection is key in this debate, the reality is that expanding caribou habitat will not have the immediate effect needed to stabilize the population of the herds. The government is now between the proverbial rock and a hard place when it comes to Inland caribou and the wolves will pay the price.
Photo by Pacific Wild
"B.C. Premier Mocks Wardrobes of Pam Anderson, Miley Cyrus after Wolf-cull Criticism." CTVNews. September 19, 2015. Accessed September 20, 2015. http://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/b-c-premier-mocks-wardrobes-of-pam-anderson-miley-cyrus-after-wolf-cull-criticism-1.2571210.
Meissner, Dirk. "B.C. Says Increasing Wolf Cull Is The Best Plan To Save Caribou." The Huffington Post. September 20, 2015. Accessed September 20, 2015. http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2015/09/20/b-c-to-increase-wolf-cull-says-it-s-the-best-plan-to-save-endangered-caribou_n_8164912.html.
News, CBC. "B.C. Wolf Cull Leads to 'removal' of 84 Wolves - British Columbia - CBC News." CBCnews. April 17, 2015. Accessed September 20, 2015. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/b-c-wolf-cull-leads-to-removal-of-84-wolves-1.3037023.