Bounty offered on cattle-menacing wolves
Ranchers on the fringes of Saskatchewan's forested areas are raising concerns about wolves venturing into open ranges and killing cattle.
Wolf sightings have been reported from Hudson Bay, on the Manitoba border to Spiritwood, in central Saskatchewan.
Provincial wildlife experts says the animals are looking for food because deer populations have declined due to deep snow in their habitat.
Livestock producers say they have noticed more wolves showing up in fields and some have even been spotted close to residences.
"I saw a wolf in my yard here about two weeks ago," Neil Hardy a farmer in the Hudson Bay area and reeve of the rural municipality, told CBC News in a telephone interview. "He was chasing my dog."
Sightings like that, Hardy said, have made people nervous.
Hardy said the local government is offering a bounty of $100 for every wolf hide brought to the RM office, in an effort to reduce wolf numbers.
One farmer with a wolf problem used the hide in a different way.
Richard Toews, who farms an area south of Prince Albert, told CBC News that a pack of wolves killed one of his bull calves. After checking with wildlife authorities, Toews shot one of the wolves and hung the carcass in the area, as a warning to the rest of the pack.
"It discourages others from coming," Toews said. "It certainly did with these, because there was a pack of about four of them that came here and ... they never came back. Not that we've seen, at least."
Provincial officials told CBC News that they are monitoring the situation. They said wolf hunting is normally only allowed by permit. However, if there is a problem with livestock, officials will grant permission to shoot the animals.
Environmentalists have expressed concern that anecdotal information about wolf sightings may be prompting an overreaction by ranchers.
Paul Paquet, a Saskatchewan wolf specialist connected to the University of Calgary told CBC News that wolves are a natural part of the ecosystem.
He added that some livestock practices could be changed, to avoid problems with wolves.
"A lot of farmers and ranchers will just discard their livestock in open pits," Paquet told CBC News. "We found that those kinds of attractants are a real problem and that they do often lead to predation on live animals."