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Kill pipelines, not wolves: Protecting Ontario's moose requires climate change action

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On December 17, the Ontario government announced Phase 2 of their Moose Project designed to help the declining moose population. While the first phase shortened the moose-hunting season and number of moose tags issued, Phase 2 involves an unscientific attempt to help the moose population by encouraging the hunting of wolves. Starting in 2017, hunters will no longer require a "seal" to kill wolves or coyotes. Instead, anyone with a small game license -- approximately 100,000 hunters in Ontario -- will be allowed to kill two wolves and an unlimited number of coyotes.

According to the Ontario government itself, selective hunting of wolves will do nothing to help the moose population. To have any impact, whole packs of wolves would need to be culled by aerial shooting or poisoning, a move that the Ontario government should not consider. Encouraging the hunting of wolves will do little to help the moose population, but will have devastating consequences for wolves and coyotes. Wolves will be the scapegoat for the real problem facing moose: climate change.

The moose population is declining in some parts of Ontario, but killing wolves won't help. Moose are affected by hunting, with more non-Aboriginal moose hunters than actual moose in the province, but even more significantly they are impacted by climate change. The most important factor to sustaining the moose population is habitat. Moose depend on cold temperatures and deep snow, while warming temperatures delay their breeding. Warmer temperatures also increase the tick infestations that prey on and dwindle the moose population.

Protecting Ontario's moose population requires a real response to climate change. The proposed Energy East pipeline will impact the moose population, not only threatening water sources in their habitat, but significantly contributing to climate change. Energy East would transport 1.1 million barrels of tar sands oil daily from Alberta through Ontario and on to New Brunswick. Energy East would represent a 40 per cent expansion of the tar sands and the equivalent pollution of every car in Ontario or the re-opening of every coal plant in Ontario.

Moose are an integral part of the ecosystem and hold particular importance for the First Nations who have treaty rights to hunt them. Ontario must protect the moose population, but hunting wolves is not the answer. Earthroots' Wolves Ontario project offers viable alternatives to protect the moose population without hunting wolves. Ontario must also address the role of climate change in the declining moose population. The Ontario government cannot protect moose and approve reckless projects like Energy East.

Ontario is accepting public comment on the Moose Project until January 18. Join us in telling the Ontario government to save the wolves and address climate change as the real source of the declining moose population by rejecting Energy East. You can send your comments to mooseproject@ontario.ca and include Premier Wynne at premier@ontario.ca.

You can sign our petition rejecting the Energy East pipeline in Ontario here.  

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