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Wolves Ontario!

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Permanent Protection Granted for Algonquin Wolves

Earthroots congratulates Minister of Natural Resources, David Ramsay who permanently banned the hunting and of wolves and coyotes in the 30 townships surrounding Algonquin Provincial Park on May 3, 2004.

Protection measures for the wolves of Algonquin Provincial Park include:

  • A permanent ban on the hunting and trapping of wolves and coyotes year-round in the 39 townships surrounding Algonquin Provincial Park. (The inclusion of coyotes in the regulation is essential to ensure the wolf killing prohibition is enforced. This measure reduces the likelihood of accidental wolf kills as it is difficult to distinguish between an Eastern Canadian wolf, a coyote and a hybrid of the two).
  • A ban on the chasing of wolves or coyotes with dogs, both in the park and in townships surrounding the park
  • Adding the Eastern Wolf to the new list of Species at Risk in Ontario as a Species of Special Concern, which is consistent with its national designation given by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC)
  • The continuation of wolf research and monitoring to ensure the sustainability of the wolves in and around Algonquin Park
  • The developement of a provincial wolf management strategy
*Landowners are still permitted to harass, capture or kill wolves or coyotes in protection of their property and farm animals.

Background Information

Algonquin Park Wolves

There are two species of wolves in Ontario:

Gray wolf (Canis lupus)
Eastern Canadian wolf (Canis lycaon)

New Scientific Discovery!

Research (published by 15 scientists in the Canadian Journal of Zoology, Volume 78, 2000) concluded that the Eastern Canadian Wolf is distinct from the more numerous Gray Wolf (Canis lupus) and more closely related to the Red Wolf (Canis rufus), which is on the brink of extinction in the southeastern United States. 

Algonquin Park is the largest area in the world where the Eastern Canadian Wolf is protected. 

Due to the lower frequency of coyote hybridization, the park may hold the purest remnant population of red wolves in the world.

Park wolf population at risk!

On May 3rd, 2001 the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) listed the Eastern Canadian Wolf as a Species of Special Concern because of characteristics that make it particularly sensitive to human activity or natural events. COSEWIC is a National Committee with representatives from the federal and provincial governments, private agencies and individual experts.

Since the mid 1960's the park wolf population has been cut in half.

Wolf research in Algonquin Provincial Park

Doug Pimlott, former Director of Environmental Studies at Innis College, Toronto and one of Canada's foremost conservationists, began wolf research in Algonquin Provincial Park in 1959. The research was continued by John and Mary Theberge in 1987, making it one of the longest, most intensive wolf studies in North America.

The research revealed some unfortunate but important news about the Alqonquin wolf…

Experts say there is a high probability that these wolves have been in decline for the past 11 years and that the decline has been severe.

The Theberges last estimated the park population to be 150-170 wolves or 30-35 packs.

Prior to the moratoriumís implementation, 2/3 of wolf deaths were due to hunting and trapping outside of the park. As many as 40 wolves died this way in just one year. Many wolves leave the park during the winter in pursuit of deer.

The Theberges study found that pup production and reuse of den sites was lower, increasing the vulnerability of the population.

Half of the wolf packs in the park have territories that extend beyond park boundaries, which is why the creation of a permanent buffer zone is so important to their survival.

According to an Earthroots survey recently conducted by Oraclepoll Research of Sudbury, 90.4% of Ontarians support permanent protection for species at risk like the Eastern Canadian wolf (Algonquin wolf).

For more detailed information about wolf research in Algonquin Park, consider purchasing John and Mary Theberge's book, Wolf Country. Proceeds from sale of the book support Earthroots' Wolves Ontario! Project. See left sidebar for details.

Algonquin Wolf Advisory Group (AWAG)

In 1998, then Minister of Natural Resources John Snobelen appointed the Algonquin Wolf Advisory Group (AWAG) to recommend a long term Adaptive Management Plan for the wolves with the goal of reducing human-caused wolf mortality. On January 15th 2001, the committee's recommendations were posted to the electronic Environmental Bill of Rights registry for a two-month public comment period. The central and most contested feature of the report was the suggestion to merely limit the hunting and trapping season in 37 townships surrounding the park. A full year round closure on hunting and trapping wolves was only recommended for 4 of the 37 townships. These townships: Finlayson, McClintock, Livingstone and Airy border the south gate of the park. Killing the wolves within these townships would affect the success of the popular public wolf howl.

On November 6th, 2001, Snobelen announced a 30-month moratorium on the hunting and trapping of wolves in the 39 townships immediately surrounding Algonquin Provincial Park. This came after over a year of campaigning by Earthroots' Wolves Ontario! Project.

Dr. John Theberge was critical of this short-term decision - "The timeframe for the ban, limited to 2 ‡ years, is still not long enough. It is not long enough for a significant population recovery; ultimately a permanent ban must be implemented."

Did You Know...
Approximately 40% of the pups born to Algonquin Park wolves will survive to become adults. The average litter size for wolves in Algonquin Park is 5 pups/year.

Learn More About Wolves

For more information about wolf research in Algonquin Park, click here.

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