A controversial study of wolf sterilization as a method of control on a few packs in the mountainous area of western Alberta has been cancelled due to strong opposition. Last March the University of Alberta, with the support of Alberta’s government announced a plan to study the effect of euthanizing and sterilizing selected wolf packs on the eastern slopes of the mountains near Mountain House, Alberta.
The goal of the project was to identify and sterilize the breeding male and female in about four packs and remove all other pack members. The theory was that the bonded male and female would maintain their territories yet produce no young. This would then minimize and maintain a lower wolf population without creating “open” territory space for new wolves to migrate to the area. With the wolves sterilized researchers could then study the rate of predation on the resident prey by those wolves and potentially adjacent wolf packs that might increase their territories to determine if this technique would be a successful management option.
Conservationists, scientists and Parks Canada expressed dismay with the experiment. One internationally recognized large carnivore expert commented that the experiment had nothing to do with good science or ecology. “This type of research does not belong in a university ecology and biology department. This is 1950s wolf management that has been updated with sterilization.” Many other wolf biologists, however, supported the study and see sterilization as a more humane means of wildlife control.