West Coast residents are being warned to keep their pets indoors after a wolf attacked a dog in Hitacu last week.
The large dog survived the May 1 attack in the Ucluelet First Nation community, but received significant injuries to its back legs before its owner arrived and scared the wolf off, according to Sgt. Stuart Bates of the BC Conservation Officer Service.
Bates told the Westerly News the attack should serve as a reminder to all West Coast residents that they share a landscape with predators.
“Wolves will not tolerate dogs in their territory,” he said. “In particular here, wolves have simply learned to see dogs as competition and they also see them as a food source.”
Two habituated wolves were killed on the West Coast in 2017. One by the COS in Ucluelet and the other by Pacific Rim National Park Reserve personnel near Florencia Bay. The latter incident involved a wolf that had attacked a leashed dog next to its owner.
READ MORE: Wolf killed in Ucluelet
Bates said last week’s attack on an unaccompanied dog outdoors does not necessarily reflect concerning wolf activity and the COS does not plan to kill the wolf, unless further reports of escalating behaviour come in.
“If there’s a person standing there and the wolf’s totally ignoring people, that’s a different ballgame…At this point, it’s not what we call human-habituated,” he said.
“We want to make sure we’ve taken all the necessary steps to prevent this conflict from reoccurring, because if whatever got the wolf in trouble in the first place isn’t corrected, another one will simply take its place. If everyone in Ucluelet and Tofino had their dogs running around willy-nilly and I shot a wolf every time one killed a dog, I’d run out of bullets before I ran out of wolves…It’s like garbage for bears, as long as the attractants are there, in this case it’s dogs, the wolves will just keep doing it.”
He encourages residents to report any wolf encounters to the COS at 1-877-952-7277 and added that descriptions or photos of the wolf can help determine next steps.
“Wolves are usually pretty distinctive and, if we have to, we will remove a wolf that starts to show aggressive or predatory behaviour against people,” he said. “But, we’d need enough reports to determine that we’re getting the right wolf.”
In the wake of the May 1 attack, the Pacific Rim chapter of WildSafeBC circulated tips on how to avoid conflicts with wildlife through its social media channels.