Those Pesky Wolves Are Really BackBack to Blog
The provincial government of Newfoundland has just released it's latest measure to gather insight into just how big a wolf population is roaming this island.
That's right, a wolf population. To my knowledge this is the first real attempt at compiling any real documentation of this predator since it's reintroduction.
Starting in 2018 the government is reinstating its Candid Collection Program. This is a program whereby local hunters are encouraged to submit carcasses from coyote or coyote like animals to the wildlife department so that they can be subjected to a variety of tests to determine actual species through DNA testing, age, sex and overall health.
This comes on the heals of what biologists now call an emergent wolf population, something many Newfoundlanders have said been happening for over a decade.
Biologists believe the Labrador wolf has now attained a foothold on the island and are cross breeding with coyotes but more dangerously, they fear breeding is occuring amongst their own species.
The impact of this event is far reaching to residents of the island. As of the early 1980's big game moose and caribou populations had only resident black bears to contend with as predators. That soon doubled with the introduction of the coyote in the mid-1980's. The coyote, an equal or as many believe a greater predator than the black bear, soon began wrecking havoc on local caribou herds whose numbers are still in decline nearly three decades later.
Now with wolves firmly planted here another predator has been added to the mix, one that I might add is comfortable hunting both moose and caribou.
This leads me to believe that a reduction in numbers of both big game species is soon forthcoming as numbers of these animals reach peak levels. As with any natural predator- prey relationship, the numbers of predators will steadily increase until numbers of prey are not sufficient to withstand further increases as food supply for predators decrease. A natural balance between predators and prey is then attained and numbers of all involved should remain relatively stable thereafter.
Are we there yet? No I don't think so and I can only believe that while wolf numbers are on the rise they will be preying on both moose and caribou to survive and will be doing so 24/7 365.
With numbers of both big game species in current decline I can see no light at the end of the tunnel for some time to come and I expect further drops in big game numbers to continue.
Let's hope the provincial government gets ahead of the eight ball on this one and takes affirmative action to reduce the numbers of wolves before numbers reach critical levels.
However I fear our newest predator will become a mainstay on the country for many years to come, if not forever, and as with all introductions before it we will just grin and bear it as our wildlife division sits by in an apparent state of bewilderment.