Don’t feed them and keep your distance, say council and local wolf-watchers
By Christian Webber
The Daily News
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
Pages one and two

With several wolf sightings being reported from around the community, people are being asked to educate themselves about how to live with the surrounding wildlife.

The city has received numerous calls lately, and councilors asked people this week not to feed the wolves or the deer that attract them.

“I think this is really about educating people, said Coun. Kathy Bedard.

Most wolves are not dangerous to humans and there is a greater chance of being killed by lightning than being injured by a wolf, added David Watson and Stacey Lavigne, who have been studying and photographing wolves for nearly two years.

Even though they are not known for killing humans, in today’s world people are making wolves more comfortable by feeding them, and making them more brave by destroying their dens, forcing them to roam the streets.

Watson and Lavigne are hoping everyone stays safe along with their dogs, too.

“They are on the move now, there is no way to tell where they are staying, the pups are just about ready to leave their den site,” said Watson.

Once that happens in August, they take the pups and they go and show the area to the younger ones. That was witnessed last year by Watson, as he watched them cross the golf course for the first time during daylight.

Lavigne said that their main goal is to bring awareness to people about how wolves are not dangerous, as long as people obey the same rules.

She said when people are out walking dogs, they should be wary because we’re surrounded by many thousand miles of forest.

Sometimes wolves will think dogs are another kind of wolf, even, if it is on a leash. Lavigne warns people to make sure not to step between a wolf and any prey, even if that prey is your dog.

“If you want to walk your dog, walk it at the waterfront , that’s where it will be safe,” said Watson.

He said wolves are presently hanging around near Mount Hays and the golf course. The ones here are about 60-70 pounds. He said there is no such thing as a big wolf anymore. Also, the ones here are genetically different from timber wolves and gray wolves.

The wolves here can have coats of many colors, from gray to reddish, and in the sun they can look blond or golden brown.

Watson thinks recent ‘cougar’ sightings are actually wolves because of the colour described. He said he has also not seen scat or paw prints from a big cat and believes are climate is not right for them.

Gray wolves eat mostly deer, moose, caribou. Also medium sized mammals such as beaver can be an important secondary food source.

In Canada, their territories can range from 300 to 1,000 square miles. He said they have always been in Prince Rupert.

Lavigne pointed out that while pregnant, she went out taking photos of wolves and came within 20 feet and had no fear of them.

But they said people should definitely not feed them.

“See them, observe them and enjoy it, but don’t feed them or bring your dog out,” said Lavigne.

She said if you come close to a wolf, or they come close to you, make lots of noise, throw things at it and scare it, make sure it knows it shouldn’t be near humans.

Watson believes the local pack will soon move on because of all the construction going on.

Either they will leave Kaien Island and go to Digby Island or back into Port Edward, he said. He estimates that they could seem to Digby Island in less than 45 minutes.

“They are here because we have an overabundance in deer,” he said.

“We don’t have a wolf problem we have a deer problem.

If you walk your dogs on known problem trails around town and you and your dog are followed, or attacked who is to blame? you are probably not going to see a wolf the chances are low but is it really worth that chance…I myself dont have a pet dog and if I did, there would be a few places I would not go with him/her around here, just for the above reasons.


Wolf Cull would only be short-term fix says CO

Alpha Wolf

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.”

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