Once again I return to the writings of C. Gordon Hewitt in, “The Conservation of the Wild Life of Canada“, dating back over a hundred years. History is important as it teaches us many things and assists us, hopefully, in not repeating the same mistakes as the past.
For your educational and informative information, I have written previous articles recently in reference to the writings of C. Gordon Hewitt in this one publication. You can find them here, here and here.
Progressing through Hewitt’s work, he writes of the difficulties and the obstacles that stood in the way of settlers, ranchers and the provincial governments in finding ways to control large predators, in this instance, about wolves and coyotes. In my last article, we learned that attempts at finding a workable control method failed when bounties were implemented.
With a non viable means of predator control, ranchers trying to raise sheep and cattle were losing large chunks of their livestock, forcing them out of business. It seemed that anything short of an all-out assault on the predators had little or no effect.
Isn’t this puzzling? Most of what we hear today from our scientists, wildlife managers, environmentalists and repeated blindly through the media is that these predators will be wiped out, extirpated, completely exterminated if states allow hunting and trapping of wolves. Not so much vocalization is made about protecting the coyotes because they have essentially taken over most the landscape of America today. There will be yelling taking place as soon as enough people become sick and tired of the problems they bring.
I have written often about how the environmentalists always want their bread buttered on both side; on the one hand foisting all the blame for gray wolf extirpation in America on the hunters and trappers and then in the next breath claiming that hunting and trapping only manages to send some kind of magic signal to the breeders of the dog family telling them to have more pups. It can’t be both ways….can it? When I hear this I mostly think all actions are a cause and effect to put an end to hunting and trapping.
Honest historians have discovered that ridding a countryside of a predator, such as a highly reproductive dog, isn’t elementary. As a matter of fact, it is extremely difficult.
Please recall a five-part series I wrote nearly two years ago called, “To Catch a Wolf“. (Follow this link for Part I. There you will find links to the other four parts.)
The reason I did the series was to show readers the difficulties people from around the globe had in ridding their regions of wolves, to protect themselves, their families, their property, crops, livestock and general livelihoods. When you read the historic accounts to see to what extremes individuals, families, hunting parties and entire communities went to ward off these wild dogs, it becomes crystal clear that regulated hunting and trapping will have virtually no effect on reducing wolf and coyote populations.
Yes, we will hear from the predator protectors how the one year that Idaho and Montana had hunts for wolves how damaging it was, when in fact it wasn’t nearly as productive as some would suggest. It was the first year. Interest was high and wolves had no education of what a man walking around with a stick might mean to their longevity.
Perhaps one could even argue that with today’s technology, killing a wolf or coyote is much easier than say in C. Gordon Hewitt’s day. I’ll concede that point but I will not go so far as to say the technology more than made up for the difficulties to control population numbers, whether we are talking today or 100 years ago.
We have no recent history in this country in dealing with wolves and God only knows those running the wildlife show refuse to accept or learn from the history of the rest of world on how to deal with wolves. Read what Hewitt writes over 100 years ago about the methods of dealing with predator control.
The most successful method of destroying coyotes, wolves and other predatory animals is by the organization of systematic hunting by paid hunters, receiving no bounties and working under government control. This policy is giving excellent results in the United States, as will be shown presently.
The problem is by no means a local one, nor even a provincial one; it is both interprovincial and international in character, and it is only by organization along these lines that ultimate success will be obtained. What we need is co-operation among all concerned: individuals, live-stock organizations, and governments; all of them should contribute to the funds that are needed to carry out the work after a broad policy has been formulated.
I can hear the screams now from the predator protectors. “All these guys want to do is destroy the species, wipe out wolves and coyotes, etc.” Not true. Hewitt himself tells readers at the very beginning of his writings that:
“Any rational system of wild-life protection must take into account the control of the predatory species of mammals and birds. And while the complete extermination of such predatory species is not possible, desirable, or necessary, a degree of control must be exercised to prevent such an increase in numbers as would affect the abundance of the non-predatory species. In the treatment of predatory animals it is necessary to determine whether the species concerned are responsible for more harm than good in a particular region.”
While life in the late 1800s and early 1900s in Western Canada was difficult, with a vast number of large predators competing with not only ranchers but hunters and trappers as well, all a distinct component of the way of life, no small efforts on the part of many was bringing this predator problem under control.
Hewitt suggested that Canada needed to follow the model the United States was using, as he deemed it successful. Realizing that relying on ranchers to kill bothersome predators was a practice in wasting time and any efforts by a regular force of hunters and trappers had no affect, the government stepped in and began hiring skilled hunters and trappers, paying them to kill by gun, by trap, by poison or whatever method they could but killing was what they were paid to do.
In one year alone, according to an annual survey in Utah for 1917-1918, ranchers lost a half-million sheep and over 4 million pounds of wool. Trust me when I say that to reduce predation on livestock Utah did not offer up a one-month hunting season, restricting it to no dogs, no calls, no scents, etc.
And of course history taught us that there was no way, no matter what was done, that coyotes would be cleaned out but they did a pretty good number on the wolves. The point of this all being that honest history is being swept under the rug. These wolf lovers and predator paramours refuse to accept factual history and what was learned decades ago on how to deal with predators for the sake of both public safety, the economy and the health of a wildlife system – one based in science not fantasy.