May 13th 2016
A biologist calls it the "jelly head phenomena."
It happens when a wolf's neck gets caught in a trapper's snare.
Unable to free itself, the noose slowly cuts off circulation from wolf’s head to its heart.
The blood just keeps going into the head. Then the brain swells up until the wolf’s head explodes.
“We hear people saying, this is crazy the way the Japanese are treating dolphins; this is crazy the way whales are treated at Sea World,” Calgary-based film director, Geordie Day, told National Observer. “It’s like we treat wolves terribly here in Alberta. We do crazy things to wolves.”
Day's film - Unnatural Enemies: The War on Wolves - has just won a Genesis Award for an International TV documentary from the Humane Society of the United States. Using graphic depictions like the "jelly head," the film portrays how Alberta made its wolves out to be the scapegoat in the disappearance of caribou from the province's boreal forest in an increasingly industrialized landscape cut through with logging and oil and gas development.
The award places Day alongside the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio, Anderson Cooper and the Daily Show, all previous recipients of the honor.
The Genesis Awards have been handed out for 30 years. They reward news productions and public figures for raising awareness of animal issues in a variety of media.
Over the course of two months, Day filmed the documentary, interviewing trappers, hunters, ranchers, environmentalists, biologists, animal advocates and government officials.
According to Paul Frame, Alberta's Provincial Carnivore Specialist, people react to wolves emotionally, rather than with logic or in any practical or realistic way, compounding the difficulty of managing the wolf cull. "Wolves polarize people more than any other species," he tells Day in the film.
The documentary is an eye-opening look at the way Alberta persecutes wolves, ranging from its government sanctioned wolf cull to hunters and trappers who pursue municipal bounties offered on the animals.
In Alberta, the wolf cull began in 2005 in the Little Smoky Region of the province in an attempt to save the endangered woodland caribou.
Over the last nine years, more than 1,000 wolves have been killed along with 700 other animals.
As in British Columbia, the Alberta government employs snipers in helicopters to shoot the wolves.