5 reasons to oppose Ontario’s proposed war on wolves & coyotes

  • 3
  • January 2, 2016
1. It distracts the public from the lack of concerted efforts to halt moose declines

“consider the potential additive effects of calf hunting cautiously when contemplating changes to moose hunting regulations.” – MNRF research biologist Brent Patterson, 2013

Moose are declining at an alarming rate in many jurisdictions such as Ontario, Manitoba, Minnesota and Montana. Many of those areas have prohibited moose harvesting while they investigate the reasons behind the declines. Ontario needs to build on its commitment to change hunting regulations, manage resource extraction and development to limit impacts on wolf-moose-caribou dynamics and plan for the long-term effects of climate change.

MNRF currently collects data on wolf/coyote sightings and hunting effort, which helps to clarify moose-predator dynamics. Part of the proposed regulation changes are to remove the mandatory game “seal” reporting requirements for coyote and wolf hunters in Central and Northern Ontario. This reduction in research effort clearly demonstrates the MNRF’s lack of commitment to determine the true cause of moose declines.


2. Wolf and coyote control is unethical and will not prevent moose declines

“Unfortunately, the notion of humane treatment is often the first casualty of turning a species into a pest” – renowned ecologists Fryxell, Caughley and Sinclair

The Ministry has no scientific evidence showing that encouraging hunters to kill wolves and coyotes will benefit moose. In fact, the Moose Project website summarizes scientific research that suggests the opposite.

Only the removal of an entire pack can substantially reduce predation but this practice may not be ecologically or socially desirable. Changing hunting and trapping regulations to allow more wolves to be harvested is unlikely to remove an entire pack.” – MNRF Moose Project

Ministry biologists learned that in Ontario, “relative to what’s out there, wolves killed proportionately more old and vulnerable moose”.  They also learned that eastern coyotes don’t pose a significant threat to moose:

“it seems unlikely that predation by coyotes and hybrids is cause for conservation concern in central Ontario.” - MNRF research biologist Brent Patterson & Dr. John Benson, 2013

Moreover, there is strong evidence from Central Ontario that hunting pressure increases moose deaths, instead of compensating for deaths from predation and natural causes. Ontario’s moose are managed under the compensatory framework. Clearly moose harvest policy must be changed to reflect this new knowledge.

The BC and Alberta governments are currently attempting to exterminate wolves in endangered caribou habitat, yet the caribou populations are not increasing. Once again, government encouragement of predator control as a band-aid solution to the larger problem of declining prey species fails at the expense of thousands of wolves.


3. By eliminating the wolf/coyote seal across much of Ontario, MNRF will lose funds needed to enforce regulations and conduct future research 

“the 2013 budget restored some of the funding but the ministry had already made deep cuts, reducing the number of MNRF technicians to 21 from 48” – Toronto Sun, 2015

Wolf and coyote seals cost a mere $11.14 for Ontario residents and are currently limited to 2/hunter/year.

At a very small cost to individual hunters, the MNRF collects badly needed funds that help them carry out essential research and management enforcement.

This proposal perpetuates the under-funding of MNRF by removing the wolf/coyote seal once required across all of Central and Northern Ontario. Without adequate funding, MNRF researchers will be unable to identify the reasons behind moose declines.


4. The regulations result in an expansion of Ontario’s war on the coyote

“Know thine enemy” – Barry Potter, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs livestock specialist

By encouraging hunters to kill as many coyotes as they want in Northern Ontario, this proposal worsens the already medieval management of the species. It is time these animals are managed with more compassion and respect for their ecological contribution to Ontario’s diverse landscapes. 

Eastern coyotes are fascinating examples of evolution. Arriving in Ontario in the early 1900s, they bred with remnant eastern wolves and became incredibly well-adapted to a variety of habitats.

Following the systematic extermination of wolves in Southern Ontario during European settlement, rodent and deer populations became hyperabundant and have cost millions in crop devastation. Described as wily, wolf-like vermin, the eastern coyote’s ability to fill the role of top predator in areas dominated by people is actually a blessing. Coyotes are now the only predator capable of controlling deer in Ontario’s populated areas – deer culling would not be necessary in areas with a coyote population protected from harvesting.

However, coyotes are still slaughtered to prevent livestock depredation in most of the province. MNRF and the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) support these actions, ignoring science that shows coyotes populations are next to impossible to control, that non-lethal predator management can successfully mitigate livestock losses and that attempts to control coyote populations likely exacerbate livestock losses.

Wolves and coyotes evolved alongside wild prey that are considerably harder to catch than livestock such as newborn calves and fearless, fenced-in sheep. By killing members of a coyote family, hunters splinter the tight pack structure that allows coyotes to take down larger prey like white-tailed deer. As such, fragmented coyote packs might be more of a threat to livestock than coyotes that are left alone by hunters.

Coyotes and wolves dispersing south are never safe from hunters in Southern Ontario under existing legislation. Whole pack families can be destroyed as they nurse and raise newborn pups each spring.


5. Proposed regulations endanger Ontario’s at-risk eastern wolves 

“There are probably fewer than 500 Eastern Wolf in Canada … Special concern species do not receive species or habitat protection.” – MNRF

On December 8th 2015, The Committee on the Status of Species at Risk in Ontario (COSSARO) voted on the re-assessment of eastern wolves. COSSARO was expected to follow the lead of their sister committee in Canada and reclassify the animals as a unique species at a higher risk of extinction – up from “Special Concern” to “Threatened” or “Endangered”. Either of these levels would automatically and immediately protect Ontario’s eastern wolves.

Typically, COSSARO notifies MNRF about their decisions on December 31st, half-way through the commenting period for this proposal.

MNRF’s own research shows that there are eastern wolves in various parts of Central Ontario, well outside their stronghold (and only fully protected habitat) in and around Algonquin Provincial Park. The research also shows that compared to coyotes and hybrids, eastern wolves are the most likely to die outside of protected areas. Researchers have consistently claimed that the recovery of the species is virtually impossible if hunting and trapping seasons remain open in Central Ontario.

With this proposal, MNRF suggests new canine management boundaries to mitigate threats to this at-risk species. However, hunters will still be allowed to shoot up to 2 wolves/coyotes in eastern wolf range, and will no longer be required to report on their hunting activity.

Without genetic testing, no one can distinguish between coyotes, eastern wolves or their hybrids in Ontario. The government admits that they have no way of determining how many eastern wolves hunters or trappers are killing each year across the province. This is completely unacceptable.

Join the discussion 21 Comments

  • Cheryle Greenly says:

    When are these individuals in the government going to quit listening to special interest groups and do what is RIGHT. Everybody with 1/2 a brain knows that it is NOT the coyotes or the wolves that are responsible for the decline in moose but US….MAN……HUMANS. We are taking away their habitat and expect them to survive. IDIOTS!!!!! Stop blaming the innocent and actually do something about the true cause. Each and everyone that votes for this needs 1st their heart checked because I am pretty sure you left it at the door walking in and when you go back for it, pick up the brain you left there too. So disgusted with the “human” race.

    Cheryle Greenly

    • Harry Carter says:

      we need the wolves and I oppose this killing of them………….they help preserve not kill like humans do

  • Doreen says:

    I,oppose the war on wolves and coyotes

  • michele redmond says:

    The senseless slaughter of any species is unnacceptable. It sickens me that unreported slaughter of these animals is allowed. Can we not look at past mistakes of taking more than giviing and causing many species of wildlife to be gone forever! I question why in the centuries before US all species lived and took care of their populations without overkill. Clearly we don’t need to cull..nature and natural selection will take care of that.

  • Jayne Ayre says:

    Another ‘brilliant’ proposal from Kathleen Wynne!!!!
    This proposed cull of wolves and coyotes is a travesty. Sport hunting of moose and calves should be restricted, instead of now allowing the destruction of yet another of our wildlife species. Shame on this Wynne government.
    Wolves need to hunt to survive cut back on the human hunters….. They are the ones that are creating such a decline!!

  • Jayne Ayre says:

    Another ‘brilliant’ proposal from Kathleen Wynne!!!!
    This proposed cull of wolves and coyotes is a travesty. Sport hunting of moose and calves should be restricted, instead of now allowing the destruction of yet another of our wildlife species. Shame on this Wynne government.
    The wolves need to hunt to survive… Cut back on the human hunters… They are the reason for the decline!!!

  • C Reader says:

    This reads as though someone wants an excuse to kill animals they don’t like. We should be preserving our diverse species and working to prevent human causes of declines in moose and other species. Please choose science and fact above blood lust.

  • Linda Wood says:

    leave mother nature alone, she will adjust things as needed the wisest. She doesn’t need our help.

  • Jane Cooper says:

    Much more research is needed! Far too soon to make a decision of this magnitude. Take a lesson from the bear hunt in Florida which was a disgusting massacre.

  • Kelli Phillips says:

    I don’t know enough to make an educated statement, but I feel that mankind’s over-managing of wildlife in Ontario has created an ecological system that is out of whack. How can it possibly be a good move to “manage” even more. The desire to kill off a species so there are more moose to hunt, is an old way of thinking. Historically it has NOT worked. It’s time to consider this more carefully with data and facts. Has moose habitat changed due to other factors in their environment?
    The responses above to the “reasons to oppose…” are well thought out and make sense to me. More time should be given to consider this issue BEFORE we wipe out one half of Ontario’s natural predator/prey system already in place. Hunting does not appear to be solving the issue. Kelli Phillips, Bayfield, ON

  • Ann Jagelewski says:

    Leave the wolves alone. They are beautiful, spiritual beings. We have no right to kill them.

  • Adrian Leclerc says:

    You have scientific evidence saying this isn’t going to help so why is it even an option being discussed? Instead of killing wolves maybe looking at how we can reduce our impacts on wildlife habitat and other ecosystem aspects would be a better solution.

  • di inscoe says:

    Leave the wolves and coyotes alone

  • Gynette Cathey says:

    Keystone species, Essential science uses many discreprions for these apex predators. There is wasting disease among your moose and carabou this is about oil and logging and you are not fooling anyone anymore. Listen to science and the public, not special interests. ESSENTIAL!

  • Robin Aiton says:

    We have no right as humans to pick on another specie’s, we don’t like being killed, so why in God’s name do it to others. These are the thing’s that have created world war’s between humans, if the animals could fight back I’m sure they would…. Why can’t humans just leave thing’s alone that shouldn’t be messed with. When mother nature decides it’s there time or our time we will be gone. Flood, tornado, freezing, it doesn’t matter. It will wipe it out…..if you don’t want it to happen to you, than don’t force it on anything else!!! Our specie’s need’s a new name…rather than human, maybe we should be called destruction!!

  • Has anyone ever studies effect on the ecosystem after murdering Wolves and Coyote’s . These animals won’t kill more than they can eat–man kills for trophies and sports. Animals also die from disease and malnutrition. Why is everyone so happy to blame the wolves for all other specie deaths. We need wollves in our ecosystem for balance. Read the Yellowstone story before you doom these beautiful creature from GOD to death.

  • Karen Barr says:

    Indiscriminate killing of animals is ridiculous, please let someone who knows what they are doing & understands how to solve problems manage this situation

  • Moose decline is attributed to snails and slug (carriers of CWD and EHD as they dwell in the grasses), ticks, and climate change. Killing coyotes and wolves is only making it easier for oil, mining, and logging industries to exploit the environment. The needs for oxygen and clean water will have a definite new meaning when those mentioned industries are allowed to run amok. Not to mention that predators also prevent many fatal diseases to humans. They are free clean up and health care services.

    • wolvesontadmin says:

      Hi Frank,

      The benefits of predators are definitely numerous…new research shows they even speed up their prey’s ability to adapt to climate change (although this study was done on micro-organisms). I’d love to be able to test that with wolves in the face of this proposal’s rationale to halt moose that are declining in large part due to climate change-mediated effects of parasites, changing vegetation etc., but it’s not realistic. Instead, we must fight this proposal using simpler science.

      With many comments opposing the ministry’s proposed regulations (please comment here: http://www.ebr.gov.on.ca/ERS-WEB-External/searchComment.do?actionType=add&noticeId=MTI2OTQz&statusId=MTkxNjc2&noticeHeaderIdString=MTI2OTQz) we can stop the slaughter of wolves and coyotes, and hold the Ontario government accountable to halting moose declines using a precautionary approach – much more conservative hunting until we figure out how other factors are affecting moose. I agree with you: healthy predator populations facilitate our access to clean water and air thanks to the many effects they have on our wilderness ecosystems. The next step is better regulation of resource extraction to prioritize the health of our entire ecosystems from the ground up.

  • Christine Kraychy says:

    I’m very tired of so called “hunters” killing for sport. This cull is dangerous and it also creates
    Arrogance with people with guns…
    Children under 18 are allowed to pick up a weapon and kill…. They are taught this .
    A right to kill
    a right to make a joke out of killing .
    I’ve heard comments in Alberta like… “Let’s shoot the s%#t out of them”…
    How terrible. Leave nature alone.

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