New Threats to the Kawartha Highlands

Ontario’s newest provincial park, Kawartha Highlands Provincial Park, is the largest protected area south of Algonquin Park.  At nearly 39,000 hectares, it possesses a rich level of biodiversity and is home to many species at risk.

The Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) is currently proposing a change to the regulations by broadening the scope of hunting in Kawartha Highlands through an increase in the number of species that can be hunted throughout the entire year.  Since associated ATV (all terrain vehicle) use is permitted when hunting in Kawartha, this proposal could result in remote areas of the park being opened up.  The new regulations contradict the notion of “balance” that was struck between stakeholder groups involved in the process.

However, Earthroots is pleased that the MNR listened to environmental organizations and concerned citizens about removing wolves and coyotes from the list of species that can be hunted within the park’s boundaries.   This is an especially important move when considering that more than 2/3 of our protected areas are already open to sport hunting, and wolves are currently protected on only 3% of their range.  

Ontario has more species at risk than any other province in Canada and 40% of the province’s species at risk are situated in Southern Ontario.  With these disheartening numbers in mind, it becomes even more important to have large areas that are off limits to sport hunting and ATVs.  Unfortunately, due to pressure from special interest groups like OFAH (Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters), creating protected areas that are off limits to these high impact activities is an uphill battle.

ATVs have a huge impact on our ecosystems and pose a number of environmental problems.  The noise pollution disrupts wildlife and these powerful machines allow riders to have easier access to sensitive areas that were previously remote and inaccessible.  ATVs also have a destructive impact on aquatic wildlife since the high impact trail use creates gullies / washes and in turn reduces water quality.  ATVs can also deposit gasoline and oil in the waterways.  These vehicles damage and destroy wildlife breeding grounds as well as nesting areas and pose significant threats to habitat through erosion, fragmentation and damage to vegetation.

With updated legislation in Ontario, ecological integrity is supposed to be the guiding principle for the management of our parks.  Allowing hunting and increased motorized access into our protected areas does not fit with this concept - how can we maintain the ecological integrity of our parks when we are allowing such high impact activities in them?

The public has a chance to speak out against the proposed hunting regulations for Kawartha Highlands Provincial Park until December 8th, 2008.  Please lend your voice to this important issue!  To view the posting please click here.

You can use our free fax action centre to submit your comments directly by clicking here.  Please change our template letter to reflect your own personal concerns - your individual voice will carry a lot more weight with the decision makers!