The Canadian Peregrine Foundation

Wolf added to Species At Risk list:  Ontario must act


One of Ontario's two wolf species has been officially designated as a Species at Risk today by the federal Committee On the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC).  The fate of this species in Ontario now rests in the hands of provincial Minister of Natural Resources John
Snobelen, who is considering proposed conservation measures to protect the wolf population
around Algonquin Park and across Ontario.

"It has been clear for years that the Algonquin Park wolf population is at risk because of human killing outside the park boundaries," says Jean Langlois of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS).  "COSEWIC's designation today confirms our deepest fears that the problem is more widespread than most people have been willing to admit."

Scientists call the recently-recognized species Canus lycaon (or Canus lupus lycaon), but it has been commonly called the Eastern wolf, Eastern Canadian wolf, Eastern grey wolf, Red wolf, and Algonquin wolf.  Despite the variation in common names, scientists agree that the lycaon wolf is
distinct from the more widespread grey wolf species (Canus lupus).  Algonquin Park is the largest protected habitat in this species' geographic range, which is believed to extend across central Ontario and southern Quebec. Despite the large size of the park, its population of about 175 wolves is in decline due to human killing outside park boundaries.

COSEWIC says the wolf species is threatened by interbreeding with coyotes, and that this problem is made worse by human exploitation of wolves.  Interbreeding with coyotes also jeopardizes reintroduction efforts in the United States, where officials are trying to bring the red wolf back from the brink of extinction.

Today's designation as a Species of Special Concern emphasizes the urgency of the situation both in Algonquin Park and across central Ontario.  The current proposal being considered by Mr. Snobelen is for only a partial closed season on hunting and trapping wolves around Algonquin Park. Scientific analysis indicates that a full year round ban, however, is necessary to protect the park population.  In addition, it is now up to the province to list the lycaon wolf under the Ontario Endangered Species Act, which would prohibit killing the species and the destruction of its habitat
throughout its range.  Langlois concludes: "The clock is ticking for this species; how much longer will the Minister wait before taking effective action?"

The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society is Canada's grassroots voice for wilderness, and has been working for several years to obtain better protection for the Algonquin wolf population.

for more information contact:
Mr. Jean Langlois, Ottawa Valley Chapter, CPAWS
phone: (613) 232-8097     email: jlanglois@cpaws.org

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