Conservation Officer Dan Eichstadter is urging Ucluetians to start reporting their wolf sightings.
Eichstadter told the Westerly News a wolf attacked a dog near Wya Point on Tuesday and Conservation Officers are desperately trying to get more information about that attack and other wolf activity.
“There was a dog that was being walked on the beach and it was attacked by a wolf and, from what I understand, there has been escalating wolf activity in the area,” he said.
He said the dog is believed to have survived the attack, but he hadn’t yet been able to identify the dog’s owner or speak to any witnesses.
“Unfortunately, we’re not getting phone calls about it. It’s all third or fourth hand accounts. It’s extremely important that people call us whenever any kind of encounter occurs so that we can intervene early on in the animal’s behaviour before it becomes a public safety risk,” he said.
“You may see only one aspect of it, but you and the other 12 people it had previous encounters with can give us a full picture of that animal’s behaviour.”
He said there is currently no plan to destroy any wolves within Ucluelet, but he needs more information.
“It’s getting to be more and more concerning,” he said. “I can’t say for sure whether its a candidate for destruction because I need to know more about what it’s doing.”
He added relocation is not an option for wolves as they would likely starve, be attacked by that new area’s resident predators, or make their way back to the area they were captured.
He said posting encounters with predators on social media outlets isn’t enough and that the COS must be kept up to speed on what’s going on by locals reporting their sightings to 1-877-952-7277.
“Then we can help in mitigating that animal’s behaviour and we can help change people’s behaviour, which is the driver of habituating animals,” he said. “Deer, wolves, bears, cougars; human behaviour habituates them and people need to let us know when some animal is getting more curious with humans and not just running away when they see them.”
He said anyone who comes upon a wolf that does not immediately run away should act aggressively towards the animal and make it feel unwelcome.
“Yell at it. Throw rocks. Let it know that being around humans is bad,” he said.
He also urges locals and visitors to keep their pets leashed and children close at all times.
“If you’re going to take your dog out, keep it on a leash and keep it close…It keeps the pet with you and it creates a group. The wolf can’t separate the dog from the pack,” he said.
“I know your dog wants to run free, but it’s the time of year where it’s very important to keep dogs on leash and keep your small kids close to you when you’re going out for a walk in the evenings. Be conscious that there are animals around and you may have the odd encounter with one.”