Ontario: At Risk Wolves Used To Lure Game Hunters Group Says
- At-risk wolves used to lure game hunters, group says
Campaigns by Ontario tourism outfitters
endanger species, environmentalists warn
By MARTIN MITTELSTAEDT
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
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
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."
Scandinavian Joint Action For Wolves
"Live in peace with the animals. Animals bring love to our hearts, and warmth to our souls."
"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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