We must make more of an effort to understand and accurately interpret their behaviour’
To the Expositor:
RE: Conservationists fear coyote-wolf trapping ban may creep to Island, endangering deer (August 17, Page 1).
There are several factual errors in the recent article outlining the controversial government proposals to expand wolf and coyote hunting and trapping closures to protect rare Algonquin wolves.
Firstly, the public commenting period plays no part in the at-risk designation of species in Ontario. The Algonquin wolf has already been designated ‘threatened’ by an independent scientific panel called the Committee on the Status of Species at Risk in Ontario.
Secondly, wolf and coyote populations self-regulate and are further impacted by prey availability, meaning that non-human, natural processes are the effective control that prevent them from rising “unfettered.” Indeed, no research has ever concluded that hunting and trapping are effective at boosting prey populations or preventing livestock depredation. Wolf and coyote species’ pack-based social structure, the number of transient animals roaming the landscape in search of free territory in which to establish, and the larger and more numerous litters that result when packs are splintered by hunters and trappers all lead to a rebounding of the population that is targeted. Moreover, long-term research shows that this social chaos that lethal control causes actually exacerbates livestock depredation.
Thirdly, there are many tools and techniques to prevent livestock depredation by wolves and coyotes. MNRF (Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry) should be working with the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs to subsidize the implementation of preventative methods in lieu of compensating farmers for depredations and encouraging them to destroy coyotes, neither of which make up for lost livestock.
Lastly, compared to wolves, coyotes have successfully adapted to living in close proximity to humans. However, neither animal poses a significant risk to us. In fact, deer kill more people every year than all top predators combined. Pets should be kept on leash to prevent conflicts, and attractants should always be removed to deter all wildlife from becoming habituated around people.
Wolves and coyotes play a very important ecological role on our landscape. To benefit from them and coexist with them, we must make more of an effort to understand and accurately interpret their behaviour. The human population continues to rise “unfettered,” we are already causing the sixth mass extinction event on earth. If we do not modify our behaviour, we will lose the biodiversity and natural processes that the human species unknowingly depends on.
Hannah Barron, director
Wildlife Conservation Campaigns