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Sask. widens wolf harvest pilot area

(Environment.gov.sk.ca)

Last winter’s pilot project to push wolves back from ranches and farms in northeastern Saskatchewan will expand west this winter.

Saskatchewan’s environment ministry on Wednesday announced a wolf hunt will run from Dec. 15 this year until March 31, 2016 in wildlife management zones (WMZs) 49 and 53.

The wolf hunt pilot program ran from mid-September last year to the end of March this year in WMZ 49, which runs south along the forest from Carrot River to Greenwater Lake Provincial Park, then east along the forest to Hudson Bay.

WMZ 53 runs from outside Prince Albert and Christopher Lake west to Spiritwood and Big River.

A total of 200 licences will be available, for Saskatchewan residents only, at provincial environment ministry offices at Big River, Spiritwood, Nipawin, Hudson Bay and Greenwater Lake Provincial Park, the province said Wednesday.

Each licence entitles the holder to harvest two wolves. Licences will be available on a first-come, first-served basis and must be picked up in person. One licence will be available per person, but if a hunter fills that one and licences are still available, he or she may buy a second one.

Each licence holder will also get a reporting sheet and will have to report his or her results to the environment ministry.

The province emphasized that wolves are considered a big game species and all big-game regulations on weapon types, clothing requirements and baiting will apply for this hunt.

The pilot program was set up last year after Saskatchewan Crop Insurance Corp., which handles the province’s wildlife damage compensation programs for both livestock and crops, noted an “unusually high” number of livestock predation claims in WMZ 49, around Weekes.

“We recognize livestock predation caused by wolves is still a significant challenge for producers in some areas and there is a need to extend the program for another year and expand it to an additional zone,” Environment Minister Herb Cox said in a release.

The objective, the province said, will be to push the wolves back into the forests and their natural habitats, away from farms and ranches — and to supplement the work of trappers, Saskatchewan’s main control mechanism for wolf populations. — AGCanada.com Network

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