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Ontario: At Risk Wolves Used To Lure Game Hunters Group Says

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  • Colleen Klaum
    At-risk wolves used to lure game hunters, group says Campaigns by Ontario tourism outfitters endanger species, environmentalists warn By MARTIN MITTELSTAEDT
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 12, 2002
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      At-risk wolves used to lure game hunters, group says

      Campaigns by Ontario tourism outfitters
      endanger species, environmentalists warn


      Tuesday, November 12, 2002 � Page A5

      Tourism outfitters are encouraging trophy hunters to come to Ontario to
      kill eastern wolves, a rare animal on Canada's endangered-species list,
      and grey wolves, a major wildlife group says.

      The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society says dozens of hunting-camp
      operators are promoting Ontario as a place where game hunters can shoot
      wolves to fill gaps in their trophy collections.

      The society is worried that largely unrestricted hunting pressure could
      cause wolves to become locally extinct in much of Ontario, as they have
      elsewhere in Southern Canada, Northern Europe and the United States.

      "Many outfitters advertise their rates in U.S. dollars and appear to be
      attracting customers from countries where wolf-hunting opportunities no
      longer exist" because the animals have been wiped out or their hunting
      is illegal, the group says.

      The society is accusing the province of encouraging recreational killing
      of rare wolves because the Ministry of Natural Resources issues hunting
      booklets extolling the "exciting" opportunity to shoot wolves in

      The booklets do not mention that the eastern wolf is on the country's
      species-at-risk list. The grey wolf is more widespread and has a
      healthier population.

      The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, a conservation group that
      monitors wildlife conditions in the country's nature reserves, made the
      accusations in a filing that will be submitted later today to Ontario's
      environmental commissioner.

      Once such a complaint is filed, the commissioner will require the
      Ministry of Natural Resources to justify the virtual open season on
      wolves that exists in most of Ontario.

      It could lead to the adoption of a provincewide conservation plan for
      the canids for the first time.

      Wolf hunting is banned in Algonquin Provincial Park and a moratorium on
      hunting has been instituted in townships around the land, but it is to
      expire in June, 2004.

      The moratorium was instituted because of a dramatic fall in wolf numbers
      in the park. Although wolves in Algonquin have been protected from
      hunting for years, biologists believe the population is declining
      because wolves wandering from their sanctuary in the park are shot or
      snared outside the nature reserve.

      At least one outfitter is advertising that Algonquin wolves frequently
      wander far enough from the moratorium zone to be legally shot, according
      to the society.

      The company, Robson2 Outfitters of Whitby, Ont., says it can provide
      hunters with the opportunity to shoot wolves near Algonquin, using
      red-meat baits and distress calls to lure the animals to hunters, who
      wait in propane-heated box blinds, according to its Web site.

      The Ministry of Natural Resources disputes the allegations that wolves
      are in trouble.

      Maria de Almeida, a ministry biologist, considers the population
      healthy, at about 8,000 to 10,000 animals, and says there is no evidence
      that hunting levels pose a threat.

      The ministry says about half the province's population is composed of
      grey wolves and the other half of eastern wolves.

      But the ministry does not keep precise records of the number of wolves
      killed each year, and environmentalists say the population estimate may
      be unreliable because it is based on research conducted in the 1960s.

      The society is most concerned about the eastern wolf, a genetically
      unusual species found in Southern Ontario and Southern Quebec that is
      related to the red wolf, a nearly extinct canid found in North Carolina.

      Wildlife biologists placed the eastern wolf on Canada's species-at-risk
      list last year, rating it as an animal of concern. Although this is the
      lowest ranking on the list, it reflects a concern that the wolf could
      become endangered through further population decline.

      The society said it is worried that tourism outfitters are encouraging
      U.S. hunters to kill eastern wolves, using their similarity to the
      protected American red wolves, from which they are nearly
      indistinguishable, as a selling point.

      "I think it's disturbing," said Lynda Collins, a lawyer with the Sierra
      Legal Defence Fund, who is representing the group. She is accusing the
      province of "working at cross purposes" to federal wildlife authorities.

      The eastern wolf landed on the species-at-risk list after research
      showed a crash in wolf numbers in the eastern half of Algonquin Park
      during the 1990s.

      The population, the most extensively studied in Ontario in recent years,
      fell by nearly two-thirds to only 43 animals in 1998, from 133 in 1988.

      Algonquin wolves appear to live only to the age of 3 or 4 on average,
      about half the life span for wolves not being hunted.

      A study at La Mauricie National Park, in Quebec, also found declining
      numbers, with one of the park's two eastern-wolf packs disappearing
      completely between 1988 and 1993. Numbers are so low that biologists do
      not know whether the wolf plays an ecological role in the park.

      "The results of both of these studies must be taken as a warning," the
      filing says. "If pressure from human activities continues unchecked,
      there exists no evidence to suggest that [local extinction] will not
      play itself out repeatedly. . . . Indeed, it may be occurring already."


      Donna Bettinger
      U.S. Contact
      Scandinavian Joint Action For Wolves

      "Live in peace with the animals. Animals bring love to our hearts, and warmth to our souls."

      Colleen Klaum

      "He who is cruel to animals becomes hard also in his dealings with men. We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals." Immanuel Kant

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