eastern-wolf

Algonquin Wolf

The Algonquin Wolf is one of the Ottawa Valley’s most elusive, and yet most fascinating denizens. However, as a Threatened species, its future is uncertain.

Overview

Now considered to be a threatened species, the Algonquin Wolf fits into an important ecological niche as one of the Ottawa Valley’s top predators. In this role, it possesses the ability to vastly affect its surrounding ecosystem in surprising ways, much like the wolves of Yellowstone National Park (How Wolves Change Rivers). Unfortunately the Algonquin Wolf is often killed for its fur, and alongside other threats to its well-being, the associated increase in mortality rates has led to its current precarious position.

Known to inhabit forested areas of low human density, generally near a permanent source of water, the wolves have been thriving within the protected areas of Algonquin Park as well as the park’s surrounding townships. Already removed from much of their historical range, they have had little success in expanding their territory outwards. With a population size of likely less than one thousand mature animals (COSEWIC, 2015), these remaining wolves could represent a relict population that once inhabited large swathes of the Eastern temperate forests of North America since a time preceding the first European settlers.

A Cause for Concern

Today, the Algonquin Wolf faces a multitude of threats which have lowered their numbers and prevented them from returning to the areas they once called home. There are many factors that have led to the Algonquin Wolf’s classification as a threatened species: a known population of mature animals likely numbering less than one thousand (COSEWIC, 2015), a loss of their historic Canadian range at least as high as 50% (COSEWIC, 2015), and difficulty dispersing outside of areas in which they are protected from hunting.

The current fragmented populations of wolves face several human threats which have a direct impact on their ability to recover. Hunting and trapping of the wolves, road networks dividing populations, and habitat degradation caused by land conversion are all contributing factors. Unfortunately there is still ongoing harvesting of wolves outside of the protected areas of Algonquin Park and its surrounding townships. Consequently, of the radio-tagged juvenile wolves which dispersed outside of the protected areas of Algonquin, 4 out of 5 died from hunting within their first year (COSEWIC, 2015). As a result of this increased mortality rate, population expansion outside of currently protected areas and into other parts of their historic range is unlikely without further protection, as well as a sufficient number of connected forest areas low in both human and road density.

What Can We Do?

It is CPAWS-OV’s position that the Ontario government should:

  • Immediately establish a permanent Wolf Advisory Committee.
  • Implement an immediate ban on the killing of Algonquin Wolves in all provincial parks and conservation reserves.
  • Implement an immediate ban on the killing of Algonquin Wolves throughout their current and historical range (for example, the region from Algonquin to Adirondacks is a potential recovery area for the species).
  • Establish a comprehensive provincial Algonquin Wolf conservation and recovery strategy.

CPAWS-OV has been working to protect the Algonquin Wolf, a ‘Species at Risk’. While the coyote is not at risk, we still consider it an important member of the food chain, especially since wolves have been largely eradicated from much of eastern Ontario. We are therefore also working (through our Algonquin to Adirondacks initiative) to have sufficient habitat and natural corridors set aside for it and other wildlife to live in a space where it has some chance to roam with minimal impact from humans.

Through these and other efforts, we are hoping to reduce negative encounters and educate the general public on the benefits of a working and healthy, natural environment.

Recent achievements

  • In 2004, CPAWS Ottawa Valley played a key role in the establishment of a buffer zone in all 39 townships that surround Algonquin Park where killing of wolves and coyotes is prohibited. Previously, wolves from Algonquin were often shot, trapped or snared when they ventured outside the park boundary.
  • CPAWS has formally joined the Canadian Wolf Coalition! For more information, please visit the Coalition’s website.
  • Creation of the Algonquin to Adirondacks Conservation Initiative, meant to maintain and restore an interconnected habitat for wildlife, spanning from Algonquin Park in Ontario all the way to the Adirondack Park in New York State.
  • In May 2015, COSEWIC formally listed the Algonquin Wolf as a threatened species, bringing attention to its need for protection, and resulting in a proposed management plan (as per requirement by the federal Species at Risk Act).

How you can help

Learn more about the Algonquin wolf, its habitat and the important role it plays in maintaining healthy ecosystems and share your thoughts with friends and family,

Send a message to Ontario’s Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry, Kathryn McGarry, sharing your views about the conservation of the Algonquin wolf, in particular, you can ask her to take steps to ban the hunting and trapping of wolves in the province. Minister McGarry may be reached at (416) 314-2301 or by email at: kmcgarry.mpp.co@liberal.ola.org or on Twitter @Kathryn_McGarry.

You can make a donation to support our work and volunteer to help us with public outreach or get involved with a specific campaign. Join us on Facebook and sign up for our newsletter to stay informed about our campaign progress and current activities.

Did you know… ?

On March 31st, 2010, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resource’s research scientist Brent Patterson gave a presentation on the Eastern Wolf (and coyotes). Some of the information given included:

  • Most coyotes in Eastern Ontario are wolf-coyote hybrids.
  • Wolves in Algonquin Park are, in general, not inter-breeding with coyotes.
  • The buffer zone around Algonquin Park is a great success. Interestingly, mortality rates are down, but Algonquin Park populations are stable, so there is likely a fair amount of dispersal going on.
  • The Eastern wolf has been designated by both the federal and Ontario governments as a species of Special Concern. Canada’s Species at Risk Act requires that the federal minister prepare a Management Plan for the Eastern wolf by May 2008 that includes measures for the conservation of the species and its habitat, in cooperation with each province and territory in which the species is found. That Management Plan has still not been released.
  • A Strategy for Wolf Conservation in Ontario was adopted in June 2005. It represents an initial step towards a conservation strategy for Ontario wolves. Unfortunately, it does not provide adequate protection, especially for the Eastern wolf, which continues to be hunted and trapped throughout most of its range.
  • In October 2006, the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario emphasized that the Strategy “does not constitute the management plan required by the federal Species at Risk Act” and called for urgent action by the Ministry of Natural Resources to address “the requirements of managing the eastern wolf as a species at risk”.
  • In 2005 the Minister of Natural Resources promised to establish a Wolf Advisory Committee by December of that year to evaluate additional wolf information as it became available. Unfortunately this committee has not been established.

Take action

Protect Ontario’s Iconic Algonquin Wolf
Protect Ontario’s Iconic Algonquin Wolf
Join us in asking the Government of Ontario to accept the recommendations of the report released last week and to take steps to immediately ban the hunting and trapping of wolves and coyotes throughout the Algonquin wolf’s range. Please take a moment to send a message to the Ontario Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry.
Take action