Wolves will no longer be shot at from planes or helicopters in the Yukon.
In all fairness, they haven’t been for years. And the government said the technique was off the table back in August 2011. But now it’s official.
Instead, trapping may be the local tool managers look to for pesky wolf populations.
The Yukon government approved its Wolf Conservation and Management Plan for 2012. And at the top of the list is the removal of aerial wolf control as a recommended tool to help manage ungulate populations, like faltering caribou herds hunted by wolves.
But the plan recognizes the circle of species’ lives and includes the integration of ungulate management goals as well as the need to address wolf-human conflicts.
The Yukon Fish and Wildlife Management Board and the Yukon government agreed in 2010 to review the past plan, from 1992. Community meetings and workshops with wildlife management groups and First Nations were held in 2011 and there was a draft plan offered to the public for review before being sent to cabinet in December.
Aerial wolf culling is still practised in Alaska, but it isn’t cheap and it’s only a short-term solution. Plus it is considered, by many, to be inhumane.
But for moose, sheep and caribou hunters, it’s helpful.
Rural residents who have seen one-too-many pets get killed by the wild dogs also appreciate it.
Aerial wolf culls were done in the Yukon from the early 1980s to the late 1990s.
At that time, the territory began a program of surgical sterilization where the leader of the wolf pack was hunted (usually by helicopter), tranquilized and then sterilized. That was also expensive and only mildly successful.
Currently, resident hunters are limited to bag seven wolves per season. Non-resident hunters are allowed only two. There are no limits for trappers but there are growing concerns that there are fewer and fewer trappers out there, and access to trap lines is getting harder and harder to get.
The plan recommends the minister of Environment change restrictions on wolf hunting limits and season times to help with the species’ management.
There are approximately 4,500 wolves in the Yukon, spread across two-thirds of the territory. Their population is considered to be healthy and stable.