Sunday, January 28, 2007

Return of the wolf packs

In what is becoming a more frequent occurrence in the city lately, yet another report of wolves inside the city limits has been made. This time a Rupert family walking near the Civic Centre pathways on McBride reported an un-nerving episode of stalking by the four legged visitors.

It picks up the stories of late last year of wolves wandering too close in the city, spooking the locals and causing a bit of concern from authorities.

The Daily News featured the lateste episode in its Friday paper.

Warning after wolves slink back into town
By James Vassallo
The Daily News
Friday, January 26, 2007

A new year is bringing with it yet another batch of wolf sightings by Rupert residents.
Recently a local women and her family was approached by an animal before passing motorists frightened it off.

“We were heading towards McDonald’s a couple of days ago and we got to that crossing before the Civic Centre and it came from the westside towards us,” said Pamela Gonzalez, who was walking with her husband and children along McBride Street.

“It was coming close to us but two or three cars scared it away ... and it just went bombing down (Hays Creek).”

It was a lone wolf in this case and described by the Rupert woman as “about dog size, although it runs like a cheetah”. No one was injured, although the family was frightened.

“It was coming towards us before the car came and my kids were really scared,” said Gonzalez. “They’re okay now but they get scared when they walk at night.

“It just ran so fast, it was so scary.”

Last summer, there were a number of sightings at the golf course and the city dump.

Conservation officials confirmed that there was indeed a pack of wolves roaming that area, but that it would be highly unusual for them to approach humans.

Although this did happen in one case, Conservation officers explained they had very limited options when dealing with wolves due to it being an urban area. The main options are generally leg-hold traps, which often means putting pets at risk, or shooting the wolves, which puts people at risk.

An employee at the dump had his dog chased by a wolf last May after people were spotted feeding the animals in the area — a serious crime. The wolf was destroyed near the landfill a week later after it came right up to a Conservation officer sent from Terrace to investigate. The wolf was expecting to be fed.

The so-called ‘scraggly’ wolf with a limp that had aggressively approached a number of people and that killed several small pets in town was shot by Conservation Officers near Cow Bay in August 2005. In February 2005, a wolf was also shot in the Sherbrooke area of the city.

Conservation recommends that people keep their pets — a major attractant to wolves — on a leash. People should consider carrying a walking stick and think about whether they will be in an area where wildlife interactions may occur. The landfill, golf course and Butze Rapids are prime areas for wildlife encounters.

If people are approached by a wolf or a pack of wolves, they should back away from the area — don’t turn and run. Try to look as big and intimidating as possible by yelling and waving and leave the area immediately.

If people are approached by a wolf or wolves they should report the incident to Conservation at 1-877-952-7277. Call police only if it is an immediate threat.

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