Farmers will be able to protect their livestock and families from Algonquin wolves in any areas and hunting will only be restricted in areas near four parks, allaying some concerns of farmers after the wolf was declared a threatened species.
Kathryn McGarry, Ontario minister of natural resources and forestry, spoke to the Ontario Federation of Agriculture’s 2016 annual meeting to update farmers on the status of the regulations covering the protection of the Algonquin wolves.
In June, eastern wolves in Ontario were renamed Algonquin wolves and their status was changed to threatened by the Committee on the Status of Species at Risk in Ontario, an arms-length body that classifies species at risk in Ontario.
The threatened status meant that the wolves had to be protected across Ontario, and the government had 90 days to respond.
The challenge is that the only way to differentiate the Algonquin wolf from coyotes is with a DNA test — which, as McGarry admitted, would be difficult.
“Yes, I know they have big teeth. You can’t ‘Just say give me your mouth and I’ll do a swab,’” she said. “This presented a problem for us.”
The government has since set two years to draft a recovery plan for the Algonquin wolves, she said, with input from groups such as the OFA and scientists.
In the meantime, the hunting of the wolves is restricted in Algonquin Park and in the areas around Killarney Provincial Park, Queen Elizabeth II Wildlands and the Kawartha Highlands Signature Site.
The wolves, and the coyotes that look the same, can still be hunted in areas outside the restricted zone.
There is also an exemption for landowners and farmers in restricted areas who can still protect livestock if there is a health and safety risk.
— John Greig is a field editor for Glacier FarmMedia at Ailsa Craig, Ont. Follow him at @JGreig on Twitter.