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27
Ontario to ban hunting of wolves in Algonquin area


FROM CANADIAN PRESS

Natural Resources Minister David Ramsay will make his proposed ban on the hunting, chasing and trapping of wolves and coyotes in and around Algonquin Provincial Park official on Monday, The Canadian Press has learned.

The ban, which was first announced in March, received ``overwhelming public support" during the 30 days it was posted on the province's Environmental Bill of Rights registry, a ministry source said last week.

It's scheduled to take effect July 1, the source said.

"Wolves are an integral part of Algonquin's biodiversity, and the focus of the park's popular education and interpretive programs," Ramsay says in a statement to be issued Monday, a copy of which was obtained by CP.

"By protecting wolves today, we're making sure future generations of Ontarians will be able to hear wolves howl in Algonquin."

A moratorium on wolf hunting, imposed in 2001 because of a dramatic fall in the wolf population in Algonquin and nearby townships, was scheduled to expire in June. The ministry estimated two years ago that the park's wolf population had dipped below 200.

The permanent ban is part of an effort to protect the Eastern wolf, which the province wants to classify as a species at risk. Algonquin is the largest protected area for the Eastern wolf in North America.

In its written response to the proposal, the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters said the ban "smacks of political expediency" and blames the management of the park habitat itself for the wolf's demise.

"The hypothesis that hunting and trapping outside the park is a threat to wolves inside the park should be rejected," the federation argues.

"The bulk of evidence shows that habitat and prey availability, not hunting and trapping, limits park wolves."

The ministry is also working on a provincial management program for wolves, which wildlife advocates have long complained is no more cared for in Ontario than the lowly raccoon.

The province's wolf research and monitoring program will also continue in and around Algonquin to examine factors that may have an impact on wolf populations, such as habitat and availability of prey, the release said.

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