March 8, 2004

Ontario to ban wolf, coyote hunting in Algonquin Park

Ontario intends to place a permanent ban on hunting and trapping wolves and coyotes in Algonquin Provincial Park and in townships surrounding the park. The proposal, announced last week by Natural Resources Minister David Ramsay, would also ban chasing wolves or coyotes with dogs, both in the park and in townships surrounding the park.

The proposed hunting and trapping ban on wolves and coyotes would apply to the Townships of Clyde, Bruton and Eyre within Algonquin Park. It would also apply to 39 townships surrounding the park or parts of which are within the park.

In 2001, the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) established a 30-month moratorium on regulated hunting and trapping of wolves in townships surrounding Algonquin Provincial Park. That moratorium was set to expire on June 30, 2004.

MNR is also proposing to add the Eastern Wolf to Ontario's new list of Species at Risk Ontario as a species of Special Concern, which is consistent with its national designation.

The Eastern Wolf has been listed as a species of Special Concern by Canada's Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) since 2001. A Special Concern species is defined as any native species which, based on the best available scientific evidence, is sensitive to human activities or natural events.

The proposals reflect the province's commitment to conserving wolves across Ontario. As part of that commitment, MNR will be developing a provincial wolf management strategy. To ensure the sustainability of the wolves in and around Algonquin Park, the wolf research and monitoring program will also continue.

The wolves of Algonquin Provincial Park are part of a large population of Eastern Wolves found in central and parts of northern Ontario. The Eastern Wolf has lost 58% of its historical range in Canada, and is now extinct in the Atlantic Provinces and the eastern United States. Ontario is estimated to have the largest population of these wolves, and Algonquin Provincial Park is the largest protected area for the Eastern Wolf in North America.

The province is now proposing to replace the existing but out-of-date list of Vulnerable, Threatened, Endangered, Extirpated or Extinct Species of Ontario with a new Species at Risk in Ontario list in which the Eastern Wolf is listed as a species of Special Concern. The new Ontario list would change the terms used to describe provincial "at risk" categories to correspond to terms used at the national level.

Both proposals have been posted on the Environmental Bill of Rights (EBR) Registry for a 30-day comment period ending April 2, 2004.

Wolves are an important part of Algonquin Park's ecosystem, as well as one of its most enduring images. The park's summertime wolf howls are the centerpiece of a world-renowned interpretive program, which has helped change public attitudes towards wolves while also contributing to the local economy.

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