Quirks & Quarks

'There is a lot of tension': why efforts to monitor Ontario wolves face opposition

Scientists are currently gathering data to help create a plan for protecting Ontario's threatened wolves.
What can we learn from wolf scat? 0:41
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Ontario Eastern wolves

Eastern wolves are elusive creatures that roam the forests of Quebec and Ontario. In 2016 the Government of Ontario changed the status of these wolves - known as Algonquin wolves in that province - from 'special concern' to 'threatened'. The Ontario government only has until June of this year to come up with a recovery plan for the animal. Wolf researcher and activist Hannah Barron works for the Eastern Wolf Survey. She is currently busy gathering data about this population to help forge a plan for their protection. Documentary producer Andrew Budziak went out with Barron and her team of citizen scientists to collect wolf feces, known as 'scat.' 

The problem

One of the big problems is that these wolves are still being legally hunted and trapped for a couple of reasons. There is a commercial industry as well as the fact that these wolves are a threat to livestock. But some hunters and trappers believe this population are not true wolves and do not have a distinct lineage, that they are big mixed-breed coyotes that have been around for a long time and do not deserve special status. They base this information on a recent Princeton University study that even found dog DNA among the population. The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources thinks differently.    

The solution

There is a lot of tension right now between conservationists and hunters and trappers, so a solution may be difficult to achieve. The Ontario government must find a balance between the science gathered by continuous monitoring of the population, and the needs of hunters, trappers and farmers whose livelihoods are also threatened.