Tofino experienced some hair-raising wolf activity this week.
A seven-member wolf pack was spotted near Jamie’s Rainforest Inn on March 8, prompting the district to issue an immediate warning to locals.
“Residents are reminded to use caution, always keeping pets on leash and keeping small children close by,” the warning read.
B.C. Conservation Officer Steve Ackles told the Westerly News the pack was spotted again on March 9 near the West Coast junction, walking towards Kennedy Lake, and does not appear to pose any threat to public safety.
“That’s a large pack for that area and probably not a resident pack,” he said. “I suspect these are a transient pack that have come in through. I haven’t had any reports of pets being taken or missing. I’m thinking we probably won’t hear from them again for another year.”
Wolves are common on the West Coast, but their natural fear of humans usually keeps them safely confined to less-populated areas like the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve and Kennedy Lake.
Ackles said this natural fear must be kept intact to keep both wolves and the public safe and suggested it’s up to locals to ensure the animals know they’re not welcome in town.
“You don’t want wolves becoming comfortable around people so, I suggest, throw rocks,” he said.
“Take your photos from afar. Don’t let them get close…If the wolves are naturally wary of us, which they are, and we don’t allow them to get comfortable with us, it keeps wolves wild and in a healthier state.”
Anyone who spots a wolf in a residential area should immediately report their sighting to the Conservation Officer Service at 1-877-952-7277.
“The COS is dedicated to keeping these animals safe and to keeping the public safe. Please report these things; we want to keep track of them,” Ackles said adding, if the COS knows a wolf or wolves are in an area, precautions can be made and warnings can be issued to keep people and pets safe.
“Tourists tend to come out to the West Coast and enjoy our natural beauty and walk their dogs. Most places are on-leash, but people tend to let their dogs go off-leash and that’s a recipe for disaster for your loved one, meaning your pet, if you’ve got a wolf pack in the area.”
He said pets should never be taken to an area where wolves are known to be around.
“If there are wolf sightings, don’t take your pets in those areas,” he said.
“If you do encounter a wolf or a wolf pack, never turn your back and never run. Pick up a stick, or rocks, and protect yourself. Pick up your pet if they’re a tiny pet, but, keep in mind, if a wolf or a pack of wolves are after your pet, it may be a very tough decision that you’d have to drop the pet to ensure your safety.”