Parks officials in Banff, located in the Canadian Rockies in the province of Alberta, are concerned about reports of elk becoming more numerous and assertive there. The officials are now proposing controlling the elk through the use of contraceptives, starting by testing a vaccine on ten elk cows that should render them unable to have calves. Heather Steel, a correspondent for the Victoria-based office of Friends of Animals, had this to say:
It’s a striking and self-serving concept that elk in their increasing numbers are a nuisance. Couldn’t the elk say the same about us?
Canadians should be concerned about expanding our own population, and how that affects the indigenous animals. Certainly, no one is suggesting imposed birth control for the residents or tourists in Banff.
…While it is laudable that park officials have sought to avoid killing elk in order to curb the population, forced birth control is another form of human hegemony over other animals.
Free-living animals do not require our guardianship, nor should it be imposed upon them.
Elk have their own natural birth control — they simply cannot expand much beyond the available food sources.
Whenever humans meddle with nature, we end up creating some kind of mess further down the line. Let’s consider more deeply the ethics and the consequences of this act before signing the elk up for family planning.
Click here to read the full commentary in The Calgary Herald.