Pet owners are being urged to keep their dogs and cats secured after a wolf was spotted in Ucluelet last week.
Andrew Riddell of the Conservation Officer Service said the COS has received reports of wolf sightings and is monitoring the situation, but does not believe the animal is a threat to public safety.
“I haven’t gotten any information that would cause any kind of concern for the residents in Ucluelet,” he told the Westerly News, adding the COS has “zero intention” of euthanizing or relocating the wolf based on its reported behaviour so far.
He added, though, that pets should not be left outdoors unattended.
“It’s always best practice and safe practice to keep your pets on leashes,” he said.
Carla Anderson of Ocean Pet Supplies told the Westerly that pet owners must be extra vigilant when wolf activity is being reported.
“If there’s a wolf sighting in town like this, I don’t let my cat out. She’s inside 24/7, much to her disgust…She can suck it up and just stay inside,” Anderson said.
“Keep your dog on a leash when you’re in conspicuous areas like trails and things like that. Check behind you when you’re walking and just be aware of your surroundings. Don’t let them [dogs or cats] free-roam.”
Riddell said anyone who spots a wolf in the community should immediately report their sighting to the COS at 1-877-952-7277. He said many residents are posting about their wolf sightings on Facebook, but aren’t taking the important step of calling conservation officers as well.
“People do talk on social media and that’s great that they’re warning each other, but it would also be nice if, at the same time, they took a little bit of time just to give us a call and make that report so we can track the wolf,” he said.
“A lot of work is going on into researching wolf activity and behaviour on the West Coast. We want to know if they’re coming further into town or more frequently into town or if they’re having more interactions with people on trails and on beaches.”
Anderson said that if the COS does not receive reports of a wolf in time, they might not be able to haze the animal out before it becomes habituated and comfortable enough around humans to pose a threat.
“The importance of reporting sightings and encounters to the COS is so that when the animal makes that switch from a sighting, which is normal behaviour, to an encounter, which is the start of habituation, the conservation officers can step in and haze that animal and keep it safe,” she said. “My motto is: ‘Haze them to save them.’”