Emotion wins out over science in Ontario’s wolf/coyote hunting and trapping ban, says OFAH

TORONTO—Local farmers, municipal leaders and the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters (OFAH) are upset with a decision made by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) to put an immediate ban on wolf/coyote hunting and trapping in 40 Ontario townships.

“Isn’t that nice of them (MNRF); obviously they weren’t listening to what we had told the minister at our meeting (recently),” stated Ken Noland, farmer and reeve of Burpee-Mills Township in response to news that the province has put an immediate ban on wolf/coyote hunting and trapping. “Once again the MNRF and the province has bowed down to special interest groups and political pressure put on them by these groups. It is obvious that they (MNRF) weren’t listening to people that have to deal with these animals.”

The OFAH are also upset that the MNRF has gone ahead with a ban on wolf and coyote hunting and trapping in many areas across the province.

“Same  story, different species. Once again the government of Ontario has let emotion trump sound science when it comes to wildlife management as they move ahead with a ban on wolf and coyote hunting and trapping in many areas across the province,” an OFAH release states. “They did so on a day, September 15, that was supposed to mark the opening of wolf and coyote hunting seasons in most of the Wildlife Management Units affected by the decision.”

Effective immediately, hunting and trapping of wolves and coyotes has been banned in 40 townships from Anstruther to Minden to Killarney and a number of areas in between.

As was reported previously, Mr. Noland and the OFAH said that it is imperative that areas like Manitoulin Island are not now, or in the future, included in the MNRF proposal to ban hunting and trapping of wolves and coyotes due to the type of damage wolves/coyotes can do, Mr. Noland told the minister of MNRF in a recent meeting, using the example of a recent attack on a young calf in Evansville.

Mr. Noland said if farmers can’t do anything with coyotes and wolves that go after their livestock, farmers won’t have anything left. “We need to be able to protect our livestock from the damage that coyotes/wolves can do; all farmers with livestock are affected.” 

While Manitoulin Island is not included in this new MNRF proposal to ban hunting and trapping wolves and coyotes in areas surrounding Killarney Park to protect the threatened Algonquin wolf, the OFAH is very concerned that if approved, this would be the first step to including other areas, including Manitoulin.

“The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry’s original proposal last month only provided a single option accompanied by an almost complete absence of sufficient evidence to support it,” said OFAH Manager of Fish and Wildlife Services Matt DeMIlle.

“Today’s decision acknowledged, but did nothing to address the OFAH’s legitimate concerns with the government’s approach to resource management decision-making. There is virtually no public transparency and an apparent lack of meaningful public consultation,” added Mr. DeMille.

Following the shortest possible comment period on the Environment Registry (30 days) the MNRF made a quick decision without sufficient time to adequately consider the thousands of public submissions received, the OFAH says.

It’s processes and decisions like these that are leading hunters, trappers and the outdoors community to lose faith in the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry’s ability to make critical evidence-based management decisions, an OFAH release notes.

Mark Ryckman, of OFAH told the Recorder Monday, “that one of our main concerns is MNRF is doing this as part of interim measure as part of the process to go through a management plan for endangered species. “

“One of the problems we see is that we might see similar bans in more areas,” said Mr. Ryckman. “I know Earthroots are calling for a much broader ban in Central Ontario and the North Shore, for example.”

“We have concerns and are uncertain if this proposal will actually benefit the Algonquin wolves the way they hope it does,” said Mr. Ryckman. “It’s a difficult environment and the ministry had insufficient time to go over and consider all 1,700 submissions they received. Its’ no wonder we’re hearing from more and more hunter and trappers who have, or are, losing faith in decisions being made by the MNRF.”

This  decision came down two days before a national day to recognize the modern relevance of important heritage activities in Canada. September 17 marks the second annual National Hunting Trapping and Fishing Heritage Day, the OFAH notes.

“Hunting and trapping is enormously important to our heritage in Canada and remains a part of the cultural identity for millions of Canadians,” an OFAH release notes. “As we prepare to celebrate fishing, hunting and trapping activities this weekend, this decision serves as a reminder that the outdoors community must remain strongly committed to protecting our traditions.”

“We didn’t back down when the government allowed emotion to get in the way of a sustainable spring bear hunt. We won’t back down when it comes to demanding sound wolf and coyote management either. The OFAH will never stop pushing for sound evidence-based decision-making in  this province,” Mr. DeMille said.