The Ministry of Environment has amended The Wildlife Regulations, 1981 to allow landowners the ability to protect their property from ravens without requiring a permit. Further amendments will designate the wolf as a big game species, which will allow hunters to target problem animals in areas experiencing livestock predation.
In addition, three more regulations will see changes, which include: relaxed dress regulations for hunters; harmonization of rules for the use of all-terrain vehicles for hunting; and enabling Canadian resident white-tailed deer hunters to use the services of an outfitter.
Ravens have re-colonized agricultural Saskatchewan in recent years and populations are increasing. Cattle and grain producers have voiced concerns that ravens have been killing or injuring newborn livestock and damaging grain bags.
“Presently, landowners must obtain a permit from the ministry office to protect their property from ravens,” Environment Minister Ken Cheveldayoff said. “These amendments will remove the permitting requirement and add ravens to the list of species that may be killed by a landowner, occupant or designate in order to protect their property or livestock.”
"We support the actions the ministry is undertaking to assist landowners in managing problem ravens on their property,” Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities President David Marit said.
Wolves are also causing problems for livestock owners in certain areas of the province. Big Game Management Licences are a long-established tool that has been used to address ungulate over-population, wildlife disease or damage to agricultural crops in localized areas. The amendment will enable hunters to harvest wolves where established criteria are met.
“The Weekes area within Wildlife Management Zone 49 has been identified as the initial area for a wolf hunt pilot project, based on a high number of livestock losses and documentation by Saskatchewan Crop Insurance Corporation,” Cheveldayoff said. “The ministry will focus on areas where we know we have problems, and we will continue to explore other opportunities as more information becomes available.”
This change will not create a general wolf hunting season; rather, it will focus on specific areas which meet established criteria and will only be considered after traditional control methods have failed to reduce livestock losses.
Trapping is the traditional means of controlling wolf populations. However, in some areas of the province, trappers are not able to consistently harvest wolves, which can lead to larger populations and increased attacks on livestock.
Adding wolf to the definition of a big game animal will enable the ministry to test the effectiveness of using Big Game Management Licences to help control wolves in localized areas with significant livestock predation.
“The Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation (SWF) supports these amendments,” SWF Executive Director Darrell Crabbe said. “We recognize that effective wildlife management requires science-based, active management on both game and predator species to provide additional licensed opportunities for hunters to harvest animals whose numbers are creating serious wildlife and livestock issues.”
Trappers will still be able to trap wolves as this amendment will give wolf a dual designation as a big game animal and fur bearer, similar to black bears. Hunters who harvest a wolf using a big game licence will also be able to sell the pelt under their hunting licence.