7 min read

Wolf Kept Alive Year After Year So Government Can Kill His Friends

<p>Photo supplied to the Wildlife Defence League</p>

The wolf was caught in a painful foot trap that pierced his paw with a metal spike. He was tranquilized and fitted with a radio collar, then let loose to rejoin his pack.

Several months later, a helicopter came, and the collared wolf watched as his pack members were gunned to the ground. The wolves slowly bled to death from multiple gun wounds, staining the snow with their blood. Only the wolf with the radio collar was left alive.

This scenario is exactly what the British Columbian government in Canada is doing in an attempt to save the endangered mountain caribou, whose population has been declining at an alarming rate.

Instagram/Sam Edmonds

The government believes that if it slaughters up to 200 wolves per year, the caribou population will rebound. As part of a five-year "caribou recovery plan," the government has hired Bighorn Helicopters to help kill wolves in the South Peace and South Selkirk Regions of British Columbia.

Yet conservation groups like the Wildlife Defence League and Pacific Wild argue that it's actually deforestation, industrial development and other anthropocentric causes that are wiping out the caribou. Wolves, they say, are just being used as scapegoats for shoddy science and ill-informed government policies.

When the Wildlife Defence League first started working on this issue, they heard rumors of a "Judas wolf" who was being fitted with a radio collar and used to track down and kill an entire wolf pack. Now the group has evidence from a source directly tied to the killings that this wolf actually exists.

Instagram/Sam Edmonds

In an audio recording obtained in the field, the source explains that the Judas wolf's collar reports his location to a satellite every four hours, making it easy for the killers to find the wolf and his pack. The source even bragged about how easy it was to tranquilize and collar a wolf: "They're a piece of cake to work on. I have a video of one I did. Its tail is wagging, just like a dog."

But the most disturbing piece of evidence by far is that the Judas wolf is kept alive year after year so the government can track the wolf and kill any new pack members the Judas wolf buddies up with.

"When we heard the individual in the recording disclose information about the Judas wolf, it was truly heartbreaking," Tommy Knowles of the Wildlife Defence League told The Dodo. "To think that this wolf had watched his entire pack slaughtered before his eyes, only to be left alive, is unimaginable. If watching your family killed year after year by snipers in helicopters is what this government considers a 'humane' cull, I shudder to imagine what they consider inhumane."

Trail camera photo supplied to the Wildlife Defence League

Trail camera photo supplied to the Wildlife Defence League

According to Marc Bekoff's "The Emotional Lives of Animals," wolves experience deep and complex emotions the same way humans do. When wolves lose a pack member, they become depressed and despondent, hanging their heads and tails, and circling the dead bodies of their loved ones. Wolves have also been reported to howl in a long and mournful way when a pack member dies.

For the Judas wolf, who is forced to watch his friends die time after time, the grief would be unbearable.

Besides the audio evidence proving the existence of the Judas wolf, the Wildlife Defence League managed to get rare photographs of a wolf from a trail camera placed in the South Selkirk region.

Based on the camera's location, Knowles explains that this particular wolf is probably one of the slain, or even the Judas wolf before he was collared: "It's absolutely tragic to think he may still be out there alone, after watching his entire pack get slaughtered. Whoever the wolf in the photograph may be, the cull now has a face."

Trail camera photo supplied to the Wildlife Defence League

Trail camera photo supplied to the Wildlife Defence League

To help stop the wolf killings in British Columbia and to support the work of the Wildlife Defence League, please visit their "Never Cry Wolf" campaign page.

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