Wolves raise hackles in Port Hardy

Three attacks in one-week span prompts Conservation Officer Service to urge caution for those with pets.

PORT HARDY—A series of attacks and threatening behaviour by wolves has prompted the Conservation Officer Service to urge North Island residents to use extra caution while walking their pets.

“February is mating season for wolves and wolves tend to be more aggressive towards domestic dogs as they feel threatened by them,” said Gord Gudbranson, an officer stationed at the North Island Zone in Black Creek. “For this reason pet owners should make sure that if pets are left alone, they should be left indoors or in a secure fence yard or kennel. Pet owners should always keep their pets leashed and under control at all times.”

Since Feb. 3, when a pet dog was bitten by a wolf in the carport of its Storey’s Beach home, The COS has logged three reported attacks in the vicinity. The following day, a wolf killed and partially ate a pet dog off Byng Road near the airport. It was later destroyed by COS and Port Hardy RCMP.

Then, on Feb. 8, a woman walking her three dogs on the tidal flats near Park Drive and the Tsulquate Reserve was approached by a pack of five wolves. The dog owner managed to fend off the wolves by yelling at the wolves and kicking the river ice as she retreated back to her vehicle, Gudbranson said. The RCMP made patrols to the area and spoke to several area residents notifying them of the incident.

Sightings — including a photo of a wolf in a vacant lot on Hunt Street in Port Hardy Jan. 31 — have also been shared by residents on the Facebook page “North Island Wildlife Awareness” for much of the past month.

“Wolves are generally not a threat to humans,” said Gudbranson. “Wolves are secretive; usually once a wolf has spotted or winded a human it will run away without the person even knowing it was there.”

Gudbranson offered the following advice for those who encounter a wolf:

• Bring children and pets inside until the wolf has left the area;

• Do not allow a wolf to approach any closer than 100 metres;

• Raise your arms and wave them in the air to make yourself look larger;

• Maintain eye contact with the wolf; and,

• Back away slowly, do not turn your back on a wolf.

The Conservation Officer Service is monitoring the recent wolf activity and is urging the public to report all wolf encounters or sightings to them at 1-877-952-7277.