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Wolf ‘likely’ cause of dog’s disappearance in Tofino

WildSafeBC Pacific Rim issues tragic reminder for West Coast to be wary of surrounding wildlife
(Pixabay photo)

A wolf is believed to be the cause of a dog’s disappearance in Tofino last week.

WildSafeBC Pacific Rim issued a warning on May 29 suggesting an unknown predator had taken a dog from a backyard bordering a forested area in Tofino.

“The predator involved wasn’t seen. There were sounds of a brief struggle in the forest.There was a wolf that showed interest in a dog and was hazed away about 3 hours earlier,” the statement reads. “This is a dramatic reminder that dogs are inevitably at risk at times in wildlife country.”

WildSafeBC Pacific Rim coordinator Bob Hansen told the Westerly News that “it’s quite likely,” a wolf took the dog.

“There’s a very high possibility that it was a wolf, but we just don’t know. Something took that dog,” he said, adding it’s a tragic reminder for West Coast residents to be wary of surrounding wildlife.

Wolf attacks are rare, but they do occur in the local area with recent incidents including a wolf attacking a dog in Hitacu in 2019 where the dog survived. Two wolves were killed after attacking dogs on the West Coast in 2017, one by the Conservation Officer Service in Ucluelet and one by Pacific Rim National Park Reserve staff near Florencia Bay.

The 2017 incident was the first time a wolf had been killed by wildlife officials within the Park Reserve since 2008.

“Wolves are known to react to dogs often as canines that are in their territory, so a territorial response, or just simply as food; prey that they can opportunistically take advantage of,” he said.

The warning urges all West Coasters to keep their dogs on a leash when out and about and carry bear spray in wildlife areas and adds that owners should watch their dogs’ behaviour and take note if they’re acting strangely.

“It may have detected a fresh wildlife sign that you haven’t,” the warning reads. “That could give you the opportunity to alert wildlife to your presence, or leave the area to avoid a close surprise encounter.”

It adds that off-leash dogs encountering wolves comes with “volatile and unpredictable” results.

“The dog may chase the animal away but everything can change in an instant resulting in the animal chasing the dog right back to you,” it reads.

Pet food should never be left outdoors as it can attract wolves into residential areas and all dogs should be kept indoors at night, or brought inside if it is barking or acting strangely during the day, according to the warning.

It adds that predators have a natural wariness of humans and anyone who sees a predator, like a wolf, in a residential area should do their best to scare or haze the animal away by making noise, stomping or throwing objects in their direction.

“If wolves and cougars get comfortable being close to people and in amongst human activity the risk increases particularly for pets and livestock,” it reads. “It also puts the wildlife at risk…If predators end up in conflict with people and dogs it can lead to their demise.”

It also notes that wolves have wide ranges and can travel across the peninsula from Tofino to Ucluelet during the day.

“Every encounter with people and dogs throughout their large territory influences how they will behave in those encounters,” it reads. “If every encounter reinforces their natural wariness they will behave in a wary manner…They will avoid encounters.”

Hansen urges anyone who spots a predator, like a wolf, in a residential area to report their sighting to the BC Conservation Officer Service at 1(877) 952-7277.

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Andrew Bailey

About the Author: Andrew Bailey

I arrived at the Westerly News as a reporter and photographer in January 2012.
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