Green Party of Saskatchewan calls for conference to develop better policy solutions for predator animal incidents

                                  PRESS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                        February 20th, 2010
The Green Party of Saskatchewan held a press conference at the Saskatchewan Legislature Friday morning to comment on the province’s coyote bounty and to call for alternative solutions, including a conference on predator animal incidents. According to Larissa Shasko, Leader of the Green Party of Saskatchewan, research has repeatedly shown coyote bounties to be ineffective. “Under a coyote bounty, it often ends up being the weak and wary that are killed off, not the problem animals, and coyotes have strong self-survival mechanisms evident even in their reproductive processes,” said Shasko. She noted a coyote bounty was put in place in Nova Scotia in 1982 and was discontinued in 1986 when it proved to be ineffective at controlling the coyote population. Shasko also noted that due to their ineffectiveness, coyote bounties are extremely rare. Bounty policies of this type are still utilized in some areas of the Western United States but have been unsuccessful at having a significant impact on the problem and have been proven to be incredibly expensive. 
The 18,000 coyotes killed under the bounty policy so far have cost the provincial government $360,000, money that Shasko said could have been better spent on expanding alternative control programs and a more targeted approach. “Maximizing prevention and focusing on public safety are key”, notes Shasko. Coyotes are wild animals and are generally fearful of humans, but recent coyote incidents could indicate a more brazen population developing as the coyote adapts to changes in its environment, including an expanding human population and changes in bio-diversity. “All species are linked, including the human species. It is important to look at bio-diversity when implementing solutions to predator animal incidents,” Shasko stated. 
“What is frustrating with this situation is that the Government of Saskatchewan does not spend the time or money to do proper species monitoring, so we do not know how many coyotes are actually in Saskatchewan. We have to rely on anecdotal information when an increase in population is suspected, and we do not know when we may have killed too many,” she said. “Coyotes also play an important role in our province as the main predator of gophers,” noted Shasko. The Green Party of Saskatchewan expressed concern over the province’s lack of species monitoring, especially with expanded use of strychnine poisoning to control gophers at the same time a coyote bounty has been implemented. Shasko stated that effective and well-researched solutions are clearly needed for both livestock producers and people in rural Saskatchewan who are dealing with increased coyote incidents such as missing pets. She stressed the importance of finding effective solutions for the coyote problem and all predator animal incidents. “When we have a problem in Saskatchewan, we get together to talk about it and find solutions. The complexity of predator animal incidents demands a collaborative effort to find the best approach. We are calling for a conference to develop effective solutions to predator animal and human interactions, bringing together ecologists, farmers, NGOs, indigenous peoples, conservation officers, environmentalists, the academic community, people from rural Saskatchewan, experts in biodiversity, experts in the predator animal-human interface, representatives of the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of the Environment, as well as all others in our province who care about finding effective solutions,” Shasko stated.   
Shasko said that developing an effective plan will require improved species monitoring in the province. “Before effective solutions to a problem can be found, it is important to have a thorough understanding of the problem at hand,” stated Shasko. She noted the parallels to the province’s lack of data in the area of healthcare. “I am reminded of the long overdue need for a baseline health study of the people of Saskatchewan. Such a study would cost ten million dollars and take ten years to complete, and then perhaps we’d be able to determine why Saskatchewan has the highest rate of multiple sclerosis of anywhere in the world,” Shasko said.        
Shasko noted that alternative solutions do exist, and she noted the need to expand a more targeted approach focused on problem animals. “The province currently has some funding available for the purchase of fencing and guard dogs, but this funding is quite inadequate, especially for livestock producers that are already struggling because of a difficult market (the Saskatchewan Government currently offers 50% of the cost of fencing up to $10,000 and 50% of the cost of purchase for a guard dog up to $100). It makes little sense to spend considerable money to implement a bounty policy that has been proven to be ineffective elsewhere while under-funding programs that have shown to be effective elsewhere,” Shasko said. The Green Party of Saskatchewan also believes subsidies for livestock taken by predator animals needs to be based on market value, so that livestock producers are not unfairly disadvantaged by mother nature. 
“Furthermore, it’s important that we have effective solutions for predator animal incidents that focus on maximizing prevention of the problem,” Shasko said. “As human growth and activity continues to impact native animal species, we are likely to see an increase in predator animal incidents. It is important to find solutions based on ecological wisdom, for our survival is ultimately linked to the survival of all species. It is balance that is needed, balance based on taking care of our farmers, our pets, and our ecosystems. A conference will help us to find this balance.”
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For more information, contact
Larissa Shasko, Leader of the Green Party of Saskatchewan
GPS Office | 2138 McIntyre St. Regina, SK 352-0219 |