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Great Lakes Article:

Ontario government stonewalls protection for national park wolves
From Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS), Wildlands League Chapter
08/13/03

Increased hunting, roadkills and loss of habitat likely impacts of new logging road along Pukaskwa National Park boundary

Wolves and other sensitive wildlife that inhabit Ontario's largest national park are being jeopardized by the Ontario government's approval of a logging road, warns a coalition of environmental organizations. A provincial logging road network to be built along the northern boundary of Pukaskwa National Park will run directly through the territories of four of the park's wolf packs and across habitat critical to the recovery of threatened woodland caribou populations.

"We are asking the provincial government to reconsider its plan to chop up this intact wild forest by allowing a series of logging roads that could have a devastating impact on wildlife and the ecology of this magnificent park," says Albert Koehl, a lawyer with the Sierra Legal Defence Fund. Pukaskwa is a 1,880 square-kilometre protected wilderness area located on the shore of Lake Superior, roughly 100 kilometres west of Wawa, Ontario.

On behalf of the Canadian Nature Federation, the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society and its Wildlands League and Ottawa Valley chapters, Earthroots, and the Federation of Ontario Naturalists, Sierra Legal today filed requests for both federal and provincial environmental assessments of the road plan.

National Park staff have voiced deep concern over public access to these new roads, which will come to within 500 metres of the park. The province, however, refused to incorporate conditions that would reduce the potentialdanger. "Park wolf populations have been steadily declining, largely as a result of hunting and road collisions," notes Melissa Tkachyk, wilderness campaigner for Earthroots. "With these new roads, and in the absence of any laws to limit how many wolves can be shot or snared in Ontario, the result is likely to be tragic," Tkachyk adds.

"The Ministry of Natural Resources' refusal to even consider the very reasonable precautions requested by national park staff baffles us," says Evan Ferrari, Parks Program director for CPAWS-Wildlands League.

"We need better forest management outside parks to conserve large mammals like wolves that range across park boundaries," says Jean Langlois, executive director of CPAWS-Ottawa Valley. Last fall CPAWS-Ottawa Valley and Sierra Legal Defence Fund identified Pukaskwa National Park as a problem area for wolves in an application filed under Ontario's Environmental Bill of Rights to urge the creation of an Ontario wolf conservation policy.

Both the Panel on the Ecological Integrity of National Parks and the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario have warned that Pukaskwa's ecosystems are already being stressed to the breaking point by surrounding land uses and activities. "Under these circumstances, the only reasonable approach is to stop any further development of this road network until there is a full assessment of the impacts on the park's ecology, including its wolf populations," concludes Marc Johnson, manager of protection campaigns of Canadian Nature Federation.

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