Wolf or coyote? New combined licence removes the guesswork for hunters
Small game hunters will no longer have to figure out if the animal they're about to shoot is a wolf or a coyote, but a Labrador outdoorsman doesn't expect a new combined licence to affect the provincial wolf population.
"They're pretty solitary animals. They travel in packs but they don't like people too much," Hollis Yetman of the Labrador Hunting and Fishing Association told CBC Radio's Labrador Morning.
The provincial Fisheries and Land Resources department now offers a unified small game/coyote/wolf shooting licence for both the island and Labrador.
Until 2018, a wolf shooting licence was available in Labrador, allowing one wolf to the licence holder. A coyote shooting licence was available to hunters both in Labrador and on the island.
"With the occurrences of wolves on the [i]sland of Newfoundland — and since larger coyotes, smaller wolves, or wolf-coyote hybrids are difficult to distinguish from one another — provision was made to allow hunters who incidentally harvested wolves or wolf-coyote hybrids on a coyote licence to legally possess those animals," reads a statement from the department.
Hunters and trappers are still required to reporting the kill to the proper authorities, said Yetman, which includes submitting the skull and possibly the carcass of the animal.
Yetman said there's only a very small number of trappers who hunt wolves in Labrador, and they are generally only after the animal's pelt.
Further, there are strict regulations in place for the hunt. One wolf is still the limit for hunters with a shooting licence.
"And you have to use a certain calibre of firearm," Yetman said.
"You can't go out with your partridge 12-gauge, shooting No. 5 or No. 6 shot. You have to use No. 2 shot or larger for your shotgun and you have to use centre-fire .22-caliber rifle to harvest a wolf."
No worries about the population
Yetman said it's fairly rare to even come across a wolf in the wild, despite recent sightings of a pack near Happy Valley-Goose Bay, and he feels most hunters and trappers don't target wolves regardless.
"[Wolves] don't like to present themselves in a situation where they're close to humans, and I would encourage anybody, if they see a wolf around town to call the local fisheries and game department and report it."
The provincial department likewise says it doesn't expect an increase in wolf kills.
"The wolf population in southern Labrador is quite healthy," reads the statement. "The department does not anticipate increased harvest rates based on this change since licences to shoot wolves have always been available in Labrador, and incidental harvest while hunting other small game is expected to be a very rare occurrence."
With files from Labrador Morning