Wolf sterilization helps caribou

Posted: Monday, November 11, 2002

WHITEHORSE, Yukon Territory - A wolf sterilization program developed in the Yukon is being cited as a key component to helping the recovery of the Fortymile caribou herd, according to the Whitehorse Star.

The sterilization program is based on reducing wolf pack sizes by sterilizing the dominant male or female, or both, and then killing or relocating pups and subordinate adults.

The intent is to reduce the amount of predation on caribou and moose. The program involves the testing of a contraceptive vaccine that is much quicker and much less disruptive for the wolves than surgical contraception, said territorial government biologist Michele Oakley.

But she said it is too early to know if the vaccine will be a success, so in the meantime the program will rely on surgeries.

Oakley said if the vaccine is proven to work, it will be a significant advance. All it requires is a poke with a needle, rather than tranquilizing the wolf and performing surgery.

The Fortymile caribou herd has more than doubled in size over the last seven years to an estimated 46,000 animals.

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