Caring for Land

Wild Cards: Wolves and Coyotes in Ontario

As part of the Friends of Salmon's ongoing public education program, the group will co-host a slide show and presentation by Brent Patterson (see his background below) at the Wesleyan Church in Roblin, 3100 County Road 41. Roblin is 20 km. north of Napanee on Wednesday, March 11 at 7 pm The sponsors are Friends of the Salmon River, with Frontenac and Lennox and Addington Stewardship Councils. All are welcome, free of charge.

The coyote is one of our most controversial and misunderstood animals. It is intelligent and playful, but it is also a predator with a reputation for killing small farm animals. What is more gripping than the sound of their eerie call? The howling of one coyote triggers others, resulting in an impressive concert. Wolves, the larger cousins of the coyote, will also howl spontaneously at gathering sites.

One thing is clear; both species work hard for their food. They have to. Studies show that mortality rates are high for both species, and they are able to kill only a fraction of the prey they chase.

Ontario is home to abundant populations of both coyotes and wolves. We tend to think of wolves as icons of the northern wilderness, and of coyotes as inhabitants of the southern farmlands. Yet, across much of central and southern Ontario people remain unclear as to whether the wild canids they are seeing and hearing are coyotes or wolves. Surprisingly, the answer may be “both”, as both do occur in many areas of the province. Or the answer may be “neither” as extensive hybridization has occurred between wolves and coyotes in central Ontario.

Brent Patterson has been a Field Research Scientist with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, and an adjunct professor at Trent University, since August 2001. His present research deals with the dynamics of wolf and moose populations in Ontario. Brent’s talk will examine the life histories of coyotes and wolves in Ontario, and will focus on some of the more controversial topics, such as predator-prey dynamics, predation on livestock, and control of wolf and coyote populations.

Bring your family and all your questions to this lively discussion and slide show. For more information, contact the Frontenac Stewardship Council at 613-531-5714.