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Ontario withdraws proposals to ease wolf, coyote hunting regulations

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry has set aside a controversial proposal to ease wolf and coyote hunting regulations in northern Ontario.

More than 12,000 comments received by MNRF on proposals, many against them

There will be no changes this fall to wolf and coyote hunting regulations in northern Ontario. (photo credit: sierraforce.com)

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry has set aside a controversial proposal to ease wolf and coyote hunting regulations in northern Ontario.

In a posting on the Environmental Registry, the MNRF states it has decided not to move ahead with plans to waive the need for a wolf licence and to remove the limit on coyotes in the north.
Rachel Plotkin, Ontario Science Project manager for the David Suzuki Foundation, says the MNRF heard from many people who spoke against what she calls the "scapegoating" of wolves and coyotes. (photo credit: David Suzuki Foundation)

The ministry said this will help ensure hunters across the province follow the same licensing system when hunting wolves.

The Ontario Science Project manager for the David Suzuki Foundation said the ministry heard from many people who spoke out against what she calls the "scapegoating" of wolves and coyotes.

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry has rescinded some controversial wolf and coyote hunting proposals. Of course, there is reaction. 5:49

"I think the primary comment — and this was shared by a number of people across all different interest groups — was that there wasn't adequate science to show that predation of moose was the primary cause of moose declines," said Rachel Plotkin.

"It's hard to know what happens behind government doors, but I think we can say that we are pleased to see that they are listening to the science, and using science to support their conservation and wildlife management."

OFAH disappointed

Mark Ryckman, of the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters, says the group is disappointed the ministry has chosen not to proceed with the proposal to liberalize predator hunting in northern Ontario. (OFAH)
A biologist for the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters said the group is disappointed the ministry has chosen not to proceed with the proposal to liberalize predator hunting in northern Ontario.

"As far back as 1.5-2 years ago, OFAH members in the north, and here at head office (in Peterborough), have been pushing for some improvements with wolf and coyote management in the north specifically," Mark Ryckman said.

"Based on their own merits [and] irrespective to their potential benefits to moose populations and the moose project."

Ryckman said the hunting group believes lowering predator numbers in the north had the potential to improve moose numbers in some areas.

He said it's also a missed opportunity for ministry wildlife managers and scientists.

"It would be difficult to know, for sure, ahead of time, what level of wolf harvest would be required to generate a benefit for moose populations," he said.

"But now we will never know. There is no opportunity to even test that theory in Ontario, now."

The province recently decided it wouldn't be loosening the rules when it came to hunting wolf or coyote. It had been considering changes to help save a declining moose population. Senior wildlife biologist Mark Ryckman shared his thoughts on the decision. 7:55

The MNRF said public comment was provided on the proposals for seven days in January . A total of 12,113 comments were submitted, many of them against. The Ministry also received three petitions with 200,000 signatures combined, all opposed to the proposals.

"The comments were very strongly against changing the rules. We talked to the public, stakeholders, and aboriginal groups and considered all the comments received and we decided we weren't going to make changes," ministry spokesperson Jolanta Kowalski said.

That doesn't mean the ministry will stop looking at ways to sustain the moose population.

"We know there are a number of factors that may be impacting Ontario moose populations, including harvest, parasites, changing climate, habitat quality and predation."

Wolf and coyote hunting regulations will rest with hunters in northern and parts of central Ontario requiring a small game license and wolf-coyote game seal to hunt wolves and coyotes.

The wolf-coyote game seal limit remains two per calendar year and all seal holders are still be required to report on their hunting activity and harvest.

with files from Marina von Stackelberg

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