West Coast residents and visitors are being urged to keep their pets on a leash after wolves attacked a dog on Chesterman Beach Saturday morning. (Cheryl Alexander - photo)

Conservation Officer says wolves that attacked dog in Tofino will not be killed

“They’re not coming near people to attack pets.”

The B.C. Conservation Officer Service does not plan to shoot the wolves responsible for killing an off-leash dog at Chesterman Beach on Sept. 1.

“The behaviour of killing a dog at large would not automatically make a wolf a candidate for destruction,” said Sgt. Stuart Bates of the COS. “If wolves need to be removed then we will make a plan then but, at this point, no plans are in place.”

Bates said conservation officers did not attend the scene of the attack, but worked with WildSafeBC’s Pacific Rim Coordinator Bob Hansen to investigate and, based on the information and photos they received, concluded that the dog had been killed by two wolves.

He said the wolves’ behaviour did not suggest that they are habituated or a threat to humans as the dog was not on a leash and was not accompanied by a person at the time of the attack.

“They’re not coming near people to attack pets,” he said adding all dog owners must keep their pets on a leash.

“Wolves will not tolerate other dogs in their territory. They will attack coyotes, other wolves and dogs. They see them as competition and as a food source.”

He said this was the West Coast’s first reported wolf attack on a dog in 2018 and advised all West Coast residents to educate themselves on co-existing with wildlife.

“Ucluelet and Tofino is one of those few areas of the province where we actually have wolves around residences,” he said. “It’s very rare that wolves will come anywhere near residences…Wolves do not want to be anywhere near people.”

Anyone who spots a wolf is encouraged to contact the COS at 1-877-952-7277.

“Sightings of wolves are always good because it lets us track the wolves behaviour,” Bates said. “We’re not going to jump to any conclusions just over a sighting, but we can track the wolves’ behaviour and their travel patterns and, if we do need to intercede, we’ll have a pretty good idea where to start.”

WildSafeBC is hosting a weekend’s worth of events to help residents brush up on their wildlife knowledge from Sept. 15-16, including Wild Pacific Trail walks and events at Thornton Creek Hatchery. For more information about these events, visit WildSafeBC Pacific Rim’s Facebook page.

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