QUEEN’S PARK – The provincial government recently announced that it is revisiting a proposal to liberalize the hunting of wolves and coyotes, ostensibly on behalf of the concerns of hunters, across much of Northern Ontario and the proposal is meeting with mixed reviews on Manitoulin.
One of the key challenges with the hunting and trapping of wolves and coyotes, according to Billings trapper Ian Anderson, is that it is very difficult for even an experienced trapper or hunter to tell the species apart, especially at a distance.
“A timber wolf at 100 pounds is pretty easy, but if it is a 50 pound coyote and a 60 pound young timber wolf that happens to be a pup, I defy anybody to tell the difference,” he said.
Despite that caveat, Mr. Anderson said that he regards the review as being good news. While he noted that coyotes wouldn’t normally impact moose populations, unless it was a small calf where a group might have success, “moose are very big animals,” he said. “Coyotes would have a much larger impact on white tailed deer.”
Conservation groups on the other hand decry the government’s plans as “unscientific and unethical wolf hunting plans.”
A news release from Earthroots, a grassroots conservation organization dedicated to the protection of Ontario’s wilderness, wildlife and watersheds which runs the Ontario Wolf Survey—a non-invasive genetic Algonquin wolf monitoring program and which seeks to educate the public about the environment and “inspire Ontarians to participate in protecting the ecological community,” notes that “a similar proposal was announced and subsequently abandoned by the previous provincial government in 2016 after hearing from over 10,000 Ontario residents concerned about its lack of ethical and scientific rationale to boost dwindling moose populations.”
The regulation changes will allow any small game hunter to kill as many eastern coyotes as they want between September 1 and June 15, which Earthroots notes is a period that includes the coyote pupping season, as well as up to two wolves a year between September 15 and March 31 close to this area of the North.
If the changes are enacted, hunters would no longer need to purchase special game seals or report to MNRF about how many wolves and coyotes they harvest each year.
Earthroots maintains that the “MNRF’s own website explains how wolf hunting will do nothing or very little to boost moose numbers because hunting reduces wolf pack size and smaller wolf packs do not kill significantly fewer moose than larger packs.”
“Getting rid of reporting requirements makes it glaringly obvious that the ministry isn’t even planning on studying whether such an unethical and unscientific regulation change will benefit moose,” said Hannah Barron, director of Wildlife Conservation Campaigns for Earthroots. “Hunters could wind up killing hundreds or even thousands of wolves and coyotes each year and we’d have no idea.”
“Eastern coyotes are not major predators of moose, they are generalists able to survive on rodents and other small mammals,” said Lesley Sampson, executive director of Coyote Watch Canada in the same release. “Under the guise of moose conservation, this proposal was designed to appease those who persecute wolves and coyotes. The removal of bag limits, game seals, reporting requirements and closed seasons all encourage mass predator killing, which already happens in southern Ontario.”
Comments on the proposals are being accepted until September 26 and can be submitted at: