Help keep pets off the menu

Outdoors columnist Lawrence Woodall addresses the recent spate of wolf sightings and attacks in and around Port Hardy

I read with interest — and a little chuckle — the letter by Conservation Officer James Hilgemann giving safety tips when dealing with wolves. They sound similar to tips on dealing with cougars and, for that matter, bears, and include the whole issue of yelling. Yelling, as I’ve illustrated in animal attacks in the past, has actually instigated an attack or two by bears. As for safety recommendations by government employees and literature, it’s more an issue of liability than actual, factual recommendations.

Probably no other animal has a more complex psychological relationship with humans than the wolf. Despite our deep-rooted fear of wolves, the dogs we now call “man’s best friend” happen to be descended from wolves. And as for the lone wolf that was chasing dogs in the Byng Road area, let’s keep things in perspective.

According to several hunters, deer sightings were a rarity this year. It appears the deer population is on the low side, even with our mild winter to date. If there isn’t enough food for a wolf pack, the pack may actually separate for a short period or individuals may be forced from the pack to fend for themselves. In this case of a healthy young wolf, they’re on the bottom of the totem pole, so if this young wolf was forced from the pack, it was searching out food supplies — including food on a leash.

What really concerns me is the comment about tracking the animal’s movement, and the potential destruction. Let’s try to keep a straight face; they will destroy this animal because of a few irresponsible pet owners and our fear of the ravenous wolf. There are a number of you on the North Island that have been with me when we have had awesome wolf encounters while searching out bears. Never, ever in my life have I felt intimidated by wolves.

Historically speaking, there has never been a recorded attack in North America by a true wolf; hybrids yes, but not a true wolf. While with Parks, performing winter studies on the relationship between snow formation and deer/moose fatality numbers, many times while travelling between stations we would wander upon wolves feeding on a fresh kill, muzzles saturated in blood and gore, but there was no threat to us.

And let’s consider the cougar activity this autumn. We had a higher number than normal entering our communities — again, most likely due to the low deer population — and since we know cougars do in fact attack humans, we can understand the precautionary destruction of these animals by government authorities.

There are several interrelationships that will continue to lead wolves, cougars, and bears into our communities, but we need to look at the species in question, and why that animal is there. Historically speaking, the deer population in the 1950s was at 33 deer/square km in the Nimpkish Valley, an artificially high number due to the bounty on wolves and cougars. Since the removal of the bounty the deer cycle has continued to dwindle on the North Island.

We talk about cycles, but with deer the black bear it is having a greater impact than realized. Until I came to the Island I never seen a fawn eaten by a bear. In 1998, in a two-week window, I observed four fawns being eaten by black bears. What impact is this truly having on the population? To what degree will wildlife be forced to seek food in our communities, and will it increase?

I would have had greater respect for the letter writer if he had noted there was a lone wolf in the area; keep your food on a leash indoors and, in time, the wolf will move on to seek out new food sources. Then again, our historical attempts at exterminating the wolf appears alive and healthy, along with a vivid imagination of the blood-curdling, fearsome wolf. Beware: the myth of the big bad wolf appears to been given rebirth on the North Island.

Lawrence Woodall is a longtime naturalist who has spent much of his life in the outdoors.

 

Just Posted

Bradshaw’s Photo Highlight: The last walk together

“I would give almost anything to be able to have another walk together”

North Island College holding information session on new culinary diploma

Get a sneak peek at the new culinary kitchen at the Campbell River campus

Council approves replacement of overhead heaters at Fire Hall

Port Hardy council has agreed to spend $11,000 on the replacement of… Continue reading

North Island Eagles minor rep hockey organization hand out year-end awards in Port McNeill

It was quite the season and then some for minor rep hockey here in the North Island.

North Island resident to campaign on climate, economy for Liberal Party seat in Ottawa

Peter Schwarzhoff joins race for the second time in North Island-Powell River riding

600 new campsites coming to provincial parks and recreation sites across B.C.

Tourism Minister announced half of the new spots to 13 most popular provincial parks

Raptors beat Bucks 105-99 to move within 1 game of NBA Finals

Leonard scores 35 as Toronto takes 3-2 series lead over Milwaukee

B.C. Supreme Court dismisses review around ferry workers’ right to strike

B.C. Ferry and Marine Workers’ Union collective agreement expires November 2020

Municipalities protest after B.C. declares marijuana crops ‘farm use’

UBCM president seeks answers in letter to John Horgan government

CMHC defends mortgage stress test changes amid calls for loosening rules

Uninsured borrowers must now show they could service their mortgage if rates rose two per cent

LETTER: Good hearted samaritans do exist

A lost wallet at a farmer’s market was returned to its rightful owner.

B.C. woman left ‘black and blue’ after being pushed off 40-foot cliff at lake

West Shore RCMP looking for witnesses as investigation continues

Thunderstorms to bring heavy rain, risk of flash floods in the southern Interior

Ten to 30 millimetres of rain to fall over the early weekend

Unbe-leaf-able: Agassiz man finds more than 200 four-leaf clovers in a month

Walt Hardinge has found more than 219 four-or-more leaf clovers this spring alone

Most Read