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Species at Risk

The Eastern Wolf of La Mauricie National Park of Canada

Canis lupus lycaon

What is the Eastern Wolf?

Eastern Wolf – of La Mauricie National Park of Canada
© Parks Canada
Canada’s populations of Eastern Wolves, a sub-species of the Grey Wolf, are found in southeastern Ontario and southwestern Quebec. This range includes La Mauricie National Park of Canada.

The Eastern Wolf is fairly small and fawn-coloured, with black on its back and sides, and red-brown behind its ears. In the Mauricie region, male Eastern Wolves stand about 80 cm at the shoulders and weigh around 40 kg, while females measure about 75 cm at the shoulders and weigh approximately 30 kg.

The Eastern Wolf needs large areas of forest- either deciduous, coniferous, or mixed- to survive. It is a shy mammal, easily disturbed by human presence and activity.

In May 2001, COSEWIC listed the Eastern Wolf as a subpecies of special concern because it is so vulnerable to human activity.

Issue

Species at Risk - Who Knew?

In the Mauricie region, Eastern Wolf territories range from 500 to 700 km2. That means La Mauricie National Park's 536 km2 (which is almost 320 times the size of Montreal's Olympic stadium), cannot possibly sustain two wolf packs. The wolf packs that currently include the park in their territories use only portions of the park.

The Eastern Wolf is an important part of La Mauricie National Park’s ecosystem. It feeds on prey like deer and moose, helping keep their populations at sustainable levels. This helps maintain both the diversity and richness of park vegetation, and the ecological integrity of the entire forest ecosystem.

Two wolf packs, with 5 to 10 members each, currently roam the small, 536 km2 national park. Yet their movements often take them beyond the park’s boundaries, where they are no longer protected.

Eastern Wolves often fall victim to trapping, hunting, and road traffic. They are timid and easily disturbed by logging and recreational activities. Critical wolf habitat continues to be lost to agriculture, the timber industry, and urban expansion.

Many people have misguided perceptions about wolves. Some are afraid of wolves. Others view them as predators that threaten livestock and wildlife like deer and moose. People often don’t realize how important wolves are to ecosystem health.

Solution

Eastern Wolf
© Parks Canada
To meet the challenge of protecting the Eastern Wolf, La Mauricie National Park is currently focusing on research, monitoring and education.

A major study, carried out in partnership with the Université de Sherbrooke, followed 16 radio-collared wolves around a 3500 km2 study area to find out how these elusive animals live. The study area included lands inside and outside the park.

Findings confirm, among other things, that there is enough prey and habitat to meet the needs of the two wolf packs and even permit population growth. Yet when the wolves travel beyond the boundaries of the park, they are trapped or shot at a rate that will likely result in population declines. Their survival therefore depends on regional collaboration.

Using information gathered through the research program, Parks Canada is taking steps to ensure the survival of the Eastern Wolf, including:

  • developing a conservation strategy for protecting Eastern Wolves inside and outside the park; and

  • creating an education program about the importance of wolves to the region’s forest ecosystems, in order to change people’s perceptions of the wolf.

Status

Hopefully Eastern Wolf populations will stabilize and even grow in and around La Mauricie National Park once the conservation strategy is implemented.

In the meantime, the two wolf packs are still being monitored. Parks Canada is seeking to understand how the wolves use their habitat inside and outside the park, and to determine the long-term impacts of human activity on wolf populations.

The park is also continuing to educate local communities and visitors through its Eastern Wolf education program. Developed in collaboration with Info-Nature Mauricie, an association that works in cooperation with the park, the program includes exhibits, conferences, a poster, mural, brochure, educational kit, and more. It will soon be delivered to schools as well.

Snaphots

Denis with a wood turtle
© Parks Canada / Jaques Pleau
NAME: Denis
POSITION: Ecosystem Scientist
LOCATION: La Mauricie National Park of Canada, Quebec

I started my career at Parks Canada in 1987 but my passion for wildlife began well before that. I coordinate the research and monitoring of wildlife and habitats in La Mauricie National Park of Canada - a job that I find captivating on both a professional and personal level.

In my current position, I work closely with species at risk, most particularly with the wood turtle in La Mauricie. This reptile has captured my attention because it has been designated a species of special concern by COSEWIC. Our progress toward the recovery of the Park's population of this species is the direct result of our work with partners over time. The conservation measures that have been undertaken by the park and community will strengthen the health of our natural areas and help the wood turtle, as well as other species at risk in the area.

In the years to come, I hope to implement the management and protection measures that have been identified as vital factors in ensuring the survival of species at risk. For nearly 17 years, this conservation mission and the challenges it represents have fuelled my professional and personal passion for nature.

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