Thunder Bay

Don't blame wolves for moose population decline, Animal Alliance says

Ontario needs to follow the lead of states like Minnesota and ban moose hunting — and not just punish wolves for the decline of moose in the province, a national animal advocacy group says.
Last week, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry released a proposal that would see the removal of the need for wolf hunters to buy a ten dollar tag. (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service/Associated Press)

Ontario needs to follow the lead of states like Minnesota and ban moose hunting — and not just punish wolves for the decline of moose in the province, a national animal advocacy group says.

Animal Alliance of Canada spokesperson Liz White was responding to the news that the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry has proposed easing hunting regulations on wolves in northern Ontario as part of its plan to increase moose numbers.

White told CBC News that many other factors, like global warming, could be playing a huge role in the decline of moose.

She says Ontario needs to stop the killing of moose by hunters until they get a handle on the problem.   

"I would recommend to the ministry — as we have done — to stop hunting altogether, and take a clear look at what's going on with this population before you start considering how many animals are going to be taken," she said.

Political move?

White said wolves may actually play a key role in maintaining healthy moose population.

But an MNRF spokesperson says the proposed wolf hunt changes may provide a benefit to moose populations in certain, specific situations.

Under the proposal, resident Ontario wolf hunters would no longer need a tag, but would require a small game licence.

The annual wolf limit would remain at two.

White said politics, and not biology, is behind the move.

"I think there is a very strong hunting lobby who don't want to give up hunting moose in Ontario," she said.

"It's much easier to blame other predators in the eco-system, even though these predators have co-evolved for thousands of years."

White said there is no good evidence that killing more wolves will stop the decline of moose.

People can give their input on the ministry's amendment to wolf and coyote hunting regulations in Northern Ontario until Jan. 18, 2016.

The MNRF says the proposed changes will not happen until 2017.

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