Extracting oil from tar sands (aka oil sands) is detrimental to human health in a number of ways. It drastically increases greenhouse gas emissions, continues our society’s addiction to fossil fuels and puts soil and water quality at risk.
But these aren’t the only threats posed by tar sands projects like the Keystone XL pipeline.
A report recently published by the National Wildlife Federation has shown that tar sands oil extraction is directly responsible for dwindling caribou population numbers in Canada. And instead of admitting that this dirty, dangerous form of energy is killing the caribou by destroying its habitat, the Canadian government is pinning the blame on innocent wolves.
According to NWF, ”rather than improve environmental practices to protect and restore caribou habitat, Canadian wildlife officials are poisoning wolves with strychnine-laced bait. The news comes as Alberta and Canadian officials scramble to address environmental monitoring failures that are wreaking havoc up north.” Simon Dyer of the Pembina Institute estimates that many thousands of wolves could be destroyed over five years under Canada’s proposed plan.
Strychnine is a deadly poison known for an excruciating death that progresses painfully from muscle spasms to convulsions to suffocation, over a period of hours. These strychnine baits on the ground or spread them from aircraft in areas wolves are known inhabit.
Unfortunately, no one explained the purpose of these baits to the other animals that live in these areas, putting non-target animals like raptors, wolverines and cougars at risk of death by eating the poisoned baits or scavenging on the deadly carcasses of poisoned wildlife.
“Culling is an accepted if regrettable scientific practice and means of controlling populations and attempting to balance what civilization has developed. I’ve got to admit, it troubles me that that’s what is necessary to protect this species,” said Canada’s Minister of Environment Peter Kent, last September.
What Mr. Kent seems to have overlooked is that this cruel tactic is completely unnecessary, and only seems to make sense because Canada refuses to acknowledge the toll that tar sands oil extraction is taking on the environment and its native species.
Image Credit: Flickr – pretendtious