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January 22, 2016

Ontario Government Cries Wolf after Years of Mismanaging Moose Population

Animal protection groups align with conservation organizations to condemn reckless proposal to slaughter wolves and coyotes

Animal Alliance of Canada, Animal Alliance Environment Voters Party of Canada, Born Free, Canadians for Bears, Coyote Watch Canada, Humane Society International/Canada, Wolf Awareness, Zoocheck

  • Gray Wolf (Canis lupus) pup looking out from den. Indiscriminate hunting of wolves and coyotes could disrupt their social structure. Alamy

Update, April 6, 2016: The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry scrapped the plan to allow increased killing of wolves and coyotes across the province.

The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry has proposed a plan to increase killing of wolves and the unlimited killing of coyotes across most of Ontario in a poorly conceived, ill-informed effort purporting to enhance moose populations. 

A large coalition of groups, including animal protection and conservation organizations in Ontario and across Canada, have come together to oppose this proposal in solidarity– they include: Animal Alliance of Canada, Animal Alliance Environment Voters Party of Canada, Born Free, Canadians for Bears, Coyote Watch Canada, Humane Society International/Canada, Wolf Awareness, and Zoocheck. The groups have released the following statements in response to the MNRF’s proposal:

“I find it completely irresponsible that the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry is scapegoating wolves and coyotes under the guise of protecting moose when these measures simply have no justification,” said Gabriel Wildgen, campaign manager for HSI/Canada. “The ministry’s own research shows that these regulatory changes will have little to no effect on the moose population.”

“This proposal is frankly a political move to gain voter support in rural and northern communities and to placate the hunting lobby so that they have more animals to hunt,” said Liz White of Animal Alliance of Canada.

“The Minister has provided no science to demonstrate that moose populations will increase through this proposal,” said Barry MacKay, senior program associate for Born Free. “We’ve been given no indication or estimate of how many wolves and coyotes will have to die in order to achieve the Ministry’s arbitrary target moose population increase - this is because there is no credible scientific evidence that justifies these measures.”

“The responsible thing for the MNRF to do would be to immediately move to a mandatory moose hunting reporting system and prohibit hunting in the areas of most concern,” said Julie Woodyer of Zoocheck. “Overhunting and the MNRF’s mismanagement are to blame, not the wolves or coyotes.”

“Despite the fact that moose poaching remains a serious problem, no attempt is being made to significantly improve the enforcement of moose poaching or the hunting regulations that do exist,” said Lesley Sampson, founder executive director of Coyote Watch Canada. “The MNRF should increase patrols by conservation officers and increase time spent on deterring, enforcing and penalizing illegal moose hunting.”

“The MNRF proposals are not scientifically supported, and if allowed would place politics above science based wildlife management,” said Ainsle Willock, director, Canadians for Bears. “There is no attempt being made to increase habitat protection nor to prohibit moose hunting in the areas of concern. These are more responsible and non-lethal measures that should be prioritized if moose populations are in decline”

“It is completely unacceptable that the MNRF has called this proposal ’neutral’ from an environmental and societal perspective,” said Sadie Parr, executive director of Wolf Awareness. “A proposal that results in the deaths of hundreds to possibly thousands of animals simply cannot claim to be neutral.  Not only would this bring death, pain and suffering to individual wolves and coyotes, it would disrupt entire families."

Support the efforts of HSI/Canada to prevent cruelty and save lives.


  • On December 17, 2015, Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry Bill Mauro signaled his intent to relax protection for wolves who are hunted by opening up the wolf and coyote hunting season in the Northern area from mid September to the end of March beginning in 2017.
  • Hunters would be allowed to kill two wolves with no limit on the number of hunters, while the coyote kills would be unlimited. No game seals would be required to hunt either for wolves or coyotes.
  • Wolves and coyotes both play hugely important roles in their ecosystems. When they are killed, negative repercussions on many other species and ecosystem processes often ensue. Furthermore, disrupting the social structure of wolf or coyote families through over hunting and trapping has been shown to lead to increased conflicts with humans, wildlife and livestock.
  • To see the group submission to the MNRF, click here for the PDF.

Media Contact: Christopher Paré, 514 395-2914, cpare@hsi.org

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