AUTHOR: Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society Press Release
(OTTAWA) – Environmentalists are breathing a sigh of relief now that the Ontario government has passed new hunting regulations to better protect the Algonquin Park wolf population. The new regulations prohibit year-round the hunting and trapping of wolves in 39 townships surrounding Algonquin Park.
"After years of work to have this conservation problem addressed, CPAWS is happy to see this concrete action by the Ontario government," says Jean Langlois of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS).
Langlois, a biologist and Executive Director of CPAWS' Ottawa Valley chapter, observes that these new regulations reflect changing attitudes towards wolves.
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"We've been hearing from the public that they overwhelmingly support wolf protection measures, including people in the affected communities near the park."
The Eastern wolf was added to the federal Species at Risk list by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) last spring. Algonquin Park is the largest protected area in this species range, yet even the park population was at risk because of high hunting and trapping mortality outside park boundaries.
"Our preference would have been a regulation that included a prohibition on killing coyotes as well as wolves, as was done with previous wolf hunting regulations," Langlois says.
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Unlike wolves, coyotes respond to mortality pressures such as human killing by reproducing more quickly. This can lead to more pressure on the wolf population from coyote gene influx. Langlois notes: "Careful monitoring of actions on the ground will determine whether this regulation is sufficient to recover this population."
The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society is also concerned that the new regulation is set to expire automatically in June 2004, with no follow up plans yet in place. Langlois concludes "CPAWS will remain actively involved during the moratorium period to ensure that future decisions are based on sound science, protecting the ecological integrity of the park, and the goal of removing this species from risk."
CPAWS provides information about Algonquin Park wolves for the public at the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society web site.
To see the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR)'s press release on this subject, click here.