HHOA, hunters pushing back on wolf hunt restrictions
|By Joseph Quigley - Staff writer | Dec. 30, 2018|
The Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters (OFAH) are fighting against Algonquin Wolf protections that have earned the ire of Haliburton Highlands Outdoors Association (HHOA) members.
OFAH wildlife biologist Keith Munro spoke at the HHOA annual general meeting Dec. 2 about the province’s Algonquin Wolf draft recovery strategy. The strategy aims to help sustain the threatened species by mitigating or eliminating known threats, especially human-caused mortality, through hunting regulation.
Munro said the OFAH has issues with the recovery strategy, released last January, and said it fails to take into account current township bans on hunting and trapping the wolves. The OFAH also objects to the protection area extending into places the wolves do not typically dwell.
“Our focus was on critically reviewing the response strategy to make sure that the importance of hunting and trapping isn’t missed in this,” Munro said.
The OFAH also felt the 30-day period to make official feedback submissions on the strategy was too short, Munro added.
The Algonquin Wolf primarily resides within Algonquin Provincial Park, according to the draft recovery strategy. The strategy proposes consideration for habitat regulation in 40 townships surrounding the park, including within the County of Haliburton.
A March 2 posting on the provincial environmental registry website said the strategy is expected to be finalized within 18 months.
“I think MNRF (Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry) was honestly surprised with the amount of feedback they got,” Munro said. “We’re kind of in a limbo period right now.”
The limitations placed on hunting and trapping the wolves was criticized by HHOA members, who expressed concern about the wolves approaching residences.
HHOA director Toni Cooper said the wolves genetically intermixing with coyotes is also an issue. “It’s a crossbreed. Why are we protecting something that’s crossbred?” Cooper said at the meeting. “And it’s getting worse.”
The draft recovery strategy acknowledges hybridization with the Eastern Coyote is a significant threat to the Algonquin Wolf. But the study also cites poor survival rates for the wolves outside Algonquin Provincial Park as a reason for hybridization, due to limited mating opportunities.
HHOA president Larry Hewitt said wolves have to be addressed.
“The wolf problem around Haliburton County is getting paramount,” he said in an interview. “To get it addressed is awareness and how we deal with that, I don’t know.”