By Leanne Ritchie the Daily News.
The city of Prince Rupert could take steps to kill the wolf pack living on Kaien Island and the outskirts of Port Edward, said a northwest conservation officer. But these would only be short term solutions and it would be much more effective to remove the attractants that bring wolves to the area in the first place.
At the city’s request, Chris Pryce of the conservation officer service spoke to city council about their options in dealing with the local wolf pack. “if the city decides it wants to embark on some course of action, or several courses of action in partnership with the ministry, we can explore those options,” said Pryce. “but chances are, without eliminating the attractants, within a few years, wolves would come in from the outlying areas and you would have a new pack established here.”
The options presented to the city included allowing hunting on certain areas of Kaien island to reduce the deer and wolf population, but there would be concerns for public safety with any decision to allow hunting near populated areas. The city could hire a licensed trapper to trap wolves during provincial trapping season or hire a contract trapper who would work on city property to deal with problem wolves, however this could result in problems with pets getting trapped. Or the city could have a sanctioned wolf cull on Kaien Island using traps, calling and baiting, but Pryce anticipates there would be strong opposition from the public to this idea. And theres a low chance it would be successful, he said. Without eliminating that attractants that brought the wolves here, more wolves would simply move here in the future.
“in order to be successful at long term conflict resolution, we need to think of some of those longer term options,” he said. “That would mean eliminating attractants that are here in the first place. Some of those are human attractants, some of those are natural attractants, but the wolves are here because theres a survival advantage for them to be in an urban setting. They are not here because they like people.” Between April 1, 2007 and January 14, 2008, there were 1,287 wildlife complaints made to the terrace area conservation officers service. This area, monitored by two field officers and a supervisor, includes Prince Rupert, Port Edward, Terrace, kitimat and the Mass and Kitwanga. Of those complaints, 140 were wolf complaints and 136 of those were from Prince Rupert. However, most were simply complaints of sightings of the pack living on the outskirts of the city and around Port Edward; two of the complaints from city residents were about aggressive wolves, two pets were reported killed and one pet injured.
Pryce explained that conflict occurs in Prince Rupert when wolves become habituated to living in and around urban environments. It is progressive, particularly because wolves lose their fear of humans if they receive food reward for being around people. This is turn, increases the risk of an attack or bite. Food sources include pets that are off-leash and outdoors, especially at night. Wolves also consume large amounts of deer, garbage and household waste. He noted one instance of a pet being attacked on the golf course. Wolves were in the area because someone had dumped a deer carcus nearby.
The worst problem is hand feeding, which results in conservation officers having to shoot wolves because the animals are habituated and cannot be re-located. He suggested the city look at education campaigns and bylaw measures to stop people from deliberately or inadvertently feeding the wildlife. “wolves are a natural component of the wildlife that are inherent to northwest British Columbia, nobody brought them here. This is their home.’ he said. “it is almost always the wolf that is on the losing end of being in close proximity to humans.”
By Leanne Ritchie the Daily News.