The VOICE of Anglers and Hunters since 1928

Ministry of Natural Resources Position on Wolves Lacks Credibility

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MARCH 3, 2004

Today’s planned announcement is a sad day for sound wildlife management and for the future of wolves in Ontario.

Algonquin Park wolves are not a unique species of wolf. They are part of a contiguous population of 10,000 animals extending from New Brunswick to Manitoba. Their population is healthy, vigorous and even expanding.

The small eastern wolf thrives where its prey, deer and beaver, are in abundance. It languishes where habitat change results in the loss of these species. This is what has happened in Algonquin Park.

The decline in the number of packs and the total number of wolves in Algonquin Park, the high exposure rates to disease and high pup morality in the park, the forays of wolves outside the park in desperate search for food, and the potential for hybridization with coyotes, are not the result of hunting and trapping. They are a natural response to changed habitat conditions to meet park “protection” objectives.

The McGuinty government has abandoned the real needs of wolf management in this province.

The Minister’s failure to address the real issues affecting wolf populations, and to provide for sound wildlife management, guarantees the demise of the Algonquin Park wolf as we know it.

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Contact:
Terry Quinney, PhD
Provincial Manager
Fish & Wildlife Services
(705) 748-6324
Greg Farrant
Government Relations and
Communications Manager
(705) 748-6324

The Wolves of Algonquin Park
A Fact Sheet Compiled by the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters, March 2004

Myth: The Algonquin wolf is unique to Algonquin Park.
Fact:

In fact, the so-called Algonquin wolf exists as a large contiguous population of eastern wolves that exists throughout south central Ontario, southern Quebec, and Manitoba to New Brunswick.

 

Myth:

The Algonquin wolf is an “endangered species” in Ontario.

Fact:

Eastern wolf populations have been healthy and stable in Ontario for 20 to 30 years. This was confirmed most recently by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Species in Canada (C.O.S.E.W.I.C.), which in 2002, determined that these wolves are NOT endangered, NOT threatened, but worthy of monitoring.

No concern was expressed by the C.O.S.E.W.I.C. about overharvest of these wolves in Ontario. There are an estimated 8,000 to 12,000 eastern wolves across their range.

 

Myth: Algonquin wolves are threatened by hunting and trapping outside of the park.
Fact:

These wolves are sustainably harvested by hunters and trappers throughout their range, outside of so-called “protected areas” like Algonquin Park. The fact that wolf numbers have decreased in Algonquin Park reflects the decrease in their prey availability (deer, beaver, hare), not hunter or trapper harvest.

Throughout their ranges, wolves and coyotes live in dynamic balance with their habitat and prey, and are in no way threatened or negatively affected by current levels of hunting or trapping (with annual harvests estimated at no more than 5-10% of the population).

Basic wolf biology tells us that wolf populations can sustain harvests of 30 or 40% without negative impact. Wolf researcher, Douglas Pimlott, demonstrated this decades ago when “wolf control” was found to be ineffective in the park — annual killing of 55 – 60 wolves by Rangers in the park in the 1950’s did not reduce the population.

 

Myth: Ontario wolves are not protected.
Facts: Ontario wolf conservation is already ensured by:
  • conservation legislation that prohibits the use of poison (the historic effective means of wolf control), and the elimination of bounties (in 1970’s);
  • healthy wolf populations are sustained by provincial deer and moose management programs;
  • forest management that enhances deer, beaver, hare, moose habitat;
  • emergency winter deer feeding programs;
  • provincial hunter and fur manager education that promotes conservation;
  • the geography of Ontario — wolves occupy virtually all of the forested parts of Ontario (85% of their historic range);
  • conservation laws that prohibit the killing of wolves for frivolous reasons (they can only be harvested by licensed hunters, trappers, or farmers in protection of livestock).

 

Myth: Hunting and trapping outside of the park is causing a decline of wolves in Algonquin.
Fact:

The Algonquin Wolf Advisory Group (A.W.A.G.) consulted with the best wolf scientists in 2000/2001 and determined that wolf conservation could be achieved through a combination of forest habitat enhancement, protection of wolves from disturbance inside the park, and hunting and trapping seasons. The A.W.A.G. did not recommend closing hunting and trapping seasons.

 

Myth: Forest management inside and outside Algonquin Park threatens wolves.
Fact:

To the contrary, wolves benefit from forest management that improves the habitat for their principle prey species — white-tailed deer, beaver. Only 1.5% of Algonquin Park is subjected to forest habitat improvement annually, which is not enough to prevent the reduction of wolf prey populations. Deer populations in the park are one-tenth what they were in 1960. Less forest disturbance means less food for deer, beaver, hares, etc.

 

Myth: The Algonquin wolf is native to Algonquin Park.
Fact:

Eastern wolves are small-bodied deer-eating wolves that followed deer into the park when it was logged and burned in the 19th/early 20th century. The wolves that really belong in Algonquin are the larger grey wolves. As the park continues to provide more moose habitat than deer habitat, the so-called eastern wolf population will predictably continue to decline.

 

Myth: Hunters and trappers oppose harvest regulations because they dislike wolves.
Fact:

Hunters and trappers would agree to restrictions on harvest, such as quotas or special licenses, if it was demonstrated that this was necessary for conservation. To date this has not been sufficiently demonstrated. Hunters and trappers oppose unnecessary restrictions.

 

What needs to be done for wolf conservation:
  • The province should implement the well researched, widely consulted, recommendations submitted by the Algonquin Wolf Advisory Group.
  • Use the wolf sighting and harvest data collected from deer, moose, and small game hunters, the trapper harvest data, the wolf sighting data collected from aerial surveys and other sources, to compile baseline wolf status data for ongoing trend monitoring (estimates of absolute wolf numbers are less important than knowing whether the population is stable, increasing or decreasing in the future). This would be consistent with the C.O.S.E.W.I.C. designation.