Sask. to ease kill rules on wolves, ravens

Saskatchewan plans to clear a regulatory path for hunters to better target wolves in areas where they’ve become a predator problem — and will now allow landowners to kill ravens in areas where the birds are also predators.

Amendments to the province’s Wildlife Regulations have been set up to allow landowners to protect property from ravens without requiring a permit, the government said Monday.

Ravens have “re-colonized” agricultural Saskatchewan in recent years and populations are increasing, the province said. Cattle and grain producers report ravens have been injuring and/or killing newborn livestock and damaging grain bags.

The regulatory amendments “will remove the permitting requirement and add ravens to the list of species that may be killed by a landowner, occupant or designate in order to protect their property or livestock,” Environment Minister Ken Cheveldayoff said Monday in a release.

Wolves are also causing problems for livestock owners in certain areas, the province said. The province is preparing further amendments to designate the wolf as a big game species, which will allow hunters to target “problem” wolves in areas under predator pressure.

Big game management licences are a long-established tool that has been used to address overpopulation of ungulates (generally, mammals with hooves, such as deer or elk), wildlife disease or damage to crops in specific areas.

Adding wolf to the definition of a big game animal will enable the ministry to “test the effectiveness” of using management licences to help control wolves in localized areas with significant livestock predation, the province said.

The planned amendment, the province said, “will not create a general wolf hunting season” but “will focus on specific areas which meet established criteria and will only be considered after traditional control methods have failed to reduce livestock losses.”

The province said it’s identified the area around Weekes, about 100 km southeast of Tisdale, in Wildlife Management Zone 49, as the initial area for a wolf hunt pilot project, based on a high number of livestock losses and documentation by Saskatchewan Crop Insurance Corp.

“The ministry will focus on areas where we know we have problems, and we will continue to explore other opportunities as more information becomes available,” Cheveldayoff said.

Trapping has been the “traditional means” of controlling wolf populations, the province noted, but in some areas, trappers “are not able to consistently harvest wolves,” which can lead to larger populations and more attacks on livestock.

Trappers will still be able to trap wolves under this amendment, the province added, as it will give wolf a “dual designation” as a big game animal and fur bearer, similar to black bears. Hunters who harvest a wolf using a big game licence will also be able to sell the pelt under their hunting licence, the province said. — Network


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