By-catch wolverine shows trapping regulation flaws

By-catch wolverine shows trapping regulation flaws

Killing an animal designated as threatened is okay, according to government officials in Ontario, as long as it’s by accident – they’ll even let you keep the corpse as a prize.

The CBC reported last week that a trapper northwest of Thunder Bay had caught a rare wolverine in a snare set for wolves. Wolverines are listed as threatened in Ontario, which means “the species lives in the wild in Ontario, is not endangered, but is likely to become endangered if steps are not taken to address factors threatening it.”

According to the CBC, a licensed trapper can keep the unintentionally killed animal if they receive the proper permits.

The trapper who killed the wolverine has told media he plans to have the wolverine mounted for his game room.

This sort of wildlife “management” is counterintuitive, particularly when the government’s own website on the threatened wolverine states that they “have low birth rates compared to other large carnivores and occur in low numbers across the landscape, which makes them less able to recover from mortality due to incidental trapping or road kills.”

To try and manage the management statement, let’s look at the facts:

  1. Wolverines are threatened; they may not recover if actions aren’t taken to protect them.
  2. Incidental trapping – which this case is considered – is a threat to them.
  3. Wolverines are known to be in northwestern Ontario where this trapping took place, though their numbers are quite low.
  4. Killing a wolverine remains acceptable, so long as it wasn’t intentional (a wolf snare, incidentally, doesn’t know it’s set for wolves only).
  5. The impact of having killed a wolverine accidentally is that the person responsible gets to keep the corpse and pelt for display.

While this may seem logical to the government of Ontario and trappers, it leaves the rest of us aghast, and shows another deep flaw in trapping regulations.


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