Algonquin wolf recovery strategy calls for expanded ban

by Emily Convery | January 24, 2018


UPDATE (to original article below, by Bill Hodgins, posted Sept. 23, 2016) –

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) is requesting input from the public on a draft recovery strategy for the Algonquin wolf. The Algonquin wolf was listed as a threatened species in 2016, and hunting and trapping of both wolves and coyotes was immediately banned as an interim measure. This came into effect in 40 townships beyond the already protected Algonquin Provincial Park area.

The draft recovery strategy is recommending the hunting and trapping ban be expanded to a significantly larger area across central and southern Ontario. The ban in this area, referred to in the strategy as the Algonquin Wolf Recovery Zone (AWRZ), could negatively impact deer, moose, and beaver populations due to predation by increasing numbers of wolves and coyotes.

Mark Ryckman, manager of policy for the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters says, “This strategy considers hunting and trapping to be the greatest threat to the Algonquin wolf and recommends expanding the current prohibition on hunting and trapping of wolves and coyotes to an area over 39,000 square kilometres. The OFAH will fight this broad-brush approach, and we encourage hunters and trappers to have their say on the strategy.” 

Input and comments on the draft strategy are being accepted until Feb. 14, 2018 on the Ontario Environmental Registry under EBR Registry Number 013-1813.

To read a copy or submit input click here. 

On the same day wolf and coyote hunting seasons were set to open in most wildlife management units, the MNRF announced its decision to impose an immediate ban on wolf and coyote hunting and trapping in 40 Ontario geographic townships.

The Committee on the Status of Species at Risk in Ontario (COSSARO) recently re-assessed and listed the Algonquin wolf – formerly known as the Eastern wolf – as a threatened species.

For more on this reclassification click here.

“Due to the difficulty in visually distinguishing the Algonquin wolf from coyotes and other wolves, the ministry is limiting the hunting and trapping of wolves and coyotes in three core areas where Algonquin wolf is most likely known to occur,” says Jolanta Kowalski, senior media relations officer with the ministry.

The Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters (OFAH) criticized the ministry move, stating the MNRF chose the shortest possible comment period on the Environmental Registry – 30 days – and made its decision without sufficient time to adequately consider the thousands of public submissions received.

“There is virtually no public transparency, and an apparent lack of meaningful public consultation,” says OFAH Manager of Fish and Wildlife Services, Matt DeMille.

To balance what Kowalski refers to as, “the economic and safety needs of local landowners and farmers with the need to protect this vulnerable species,” she says the ministry is proposing an exemption under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) to allow the hunting and trapping of wolves and coyote in large parts of eastern and northern Ontario within the broader range.

Expansion of existing closed seasons

Hunting and trapping of wolves and coyotes has been prohibited in townships around Algonquin Park for more than a decade. The 40 geographic townships affected by this most recent ban are within three additional core areas: Kawartha Highlands Provincial Park, Queen Elizabeth II Provincial Park, and Killarney Provincial Park.

Within those core areas, landowners are still allowed to kill, harm, or harass an Algonquin wolf or coyote in incidents of risks to health and safety, including the protection of domestic and livestock animals, according to the MNRF.

The ministry described the ban as an interim approach to protect the species while the government initiates the recovery planning process and seeks information and input from stakeholders and the public as part of this work.

“The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry’s original proposal last month only provided a single option, accompanied by an almost complete absence of sufficient evidence to support it,” said DeMille.

It is processes and decisions like these that are leading hunters, trappers and the outdoors community to lose faith in the MNRF’s ability to make critical evidence-based management decisions, stated the OFAH in a media release. It called on the outdoors community to remain committed to protecting Canada’s heritage and traditions.

“The OFAH will never stop pushing for sound evidence-based decision-making in this province,” stated DeMille.

For more information on the ban click here.