Ron Douglas wants the wolf that attacked his dog in Hitacu last week to be killed.
“I’d like to see the culprit shot and the other wolves to see it, to make an example,” Douglas told the Westerly News on May 7. “We have small kids here and who’s to say [if] they are next? They are smaller than Zeus.”
He said his adult children Amy and Devon woke up around 6 a.m. on May 1 to the sounds of what they initially thought was two dogs fighting but, when they went outside, they discovered the family dog Zeus, who Douglas described as a mastiff-shepherd cross, “had been dragged out of his hiding spot under his house.”
“Devon came out of his tent to find Zeus fighting the wolf and [Zeus] had [the wolf] pinned by the throat,” he said. “When the wolf saw him, they both looked up and the wolf ran off.”
He said Zeus suffered “many cuts and gashes” in the encounter and was rushed to an emergency vet in Nanaimo to receive stitches. He said Zeus is recovering well and suggested the dog’s spiked collar may have saved its life.
“The wolf tried to go for his neck,” he said.
Douglas said he has lived in Hitacu for about six years and believes wolves are becoming more habituated in the community.
“The wolves are here very often as dogs are barking nightly,” he said. “There are more and more sightings…Very bold to attack a full-sized dog.”
Sgt. Stuart Bates of the B.C. Conservation Officer Service told the Westerly News that the COS does not plan to kill the wolf and suggested the May 1 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 does not necessarily reflect concerning wolf activity because Zeus had been alone outside. He said 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.