Tofino woke to tragic news on Saturday morning as a report that at least two wolves had killed a dog on Chesterman Beach shot through town.
WildSafe B.C. Pacific Rim coordinator Bob Hansen told the Westerly News that the dog had been let outside a residence, off-leash, in the early morning hours of Sept. 1.
“It looks like [the dog] wandered out onto the beach and was attacked by the wolves and killed,” Hansen said. “We don’tknow how many wolves exactly were involved, but the indications were that there was at least two…It looks like, from the wounds, that two wolves were holding onto the dog at the same time.”
Immediately after the wolf attack, Tofino’s district office reached out to Hansen in search of any potential WildSafe BC resources to help get the word out to beachgoers and Hansen provided new warning signs that the district’s public works team then installed around Chesterman’s access points Saturday afternoon, according to Tofino mayor Josie Osborne who added that the district also reached out to residents through social media.
“The District needs to use all its communication channels and needs to collaborate with other organizations and businesses to get the message out about how we can most successfully co-exist with wildlife in ways that do not endanger people, pets or the wildlife itself,” Osborne told the Westerly News.
Hansen acknowledged that a wolf attacked a leashed-dog in the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve in March of 2017, but added that “99.9 per cent of the time” leashes protect pets from being attacked and, in the wake of Saturday’s attack, he’s urging all dog owners to keep their pets on a leash whenever they’re outside.
“We are living with all of these wild animals together on this landscape,” he said. “There are direct ways to increase the safety of our pets and one of the most direct ways to do that is to have them on-leash and keep them in at night.”
Tofino’s Animal Control Bylaw prohibits any dog-owner from allowing their pet to be off-leash in outdoor public areas and Osborne said it might be time to take a more proactive approach towards enforcing that bylaw on local beaches.
“While it’s too early to say whether the District would consider any bans on dogs at beaches, I don’t think that would be the right approach. I think it’s fair to say that we must consider a change in our current approach to leash bylaw education and enforcement, which is generally based on complaints or proactively when bylaw enforcement officers encounter obvious ‘problem situations’ with dogs,” she said.
She said a regional wildlife working group with stakeholders from Tofino, Ucluelet, the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation and Parks Canada “is beginning to make strides” towards creating effective strategies, including education and enforcement, for co-existing with wildlife.
“Discussing dog issues, from leash laws to dog poop, can be controversial and difficult, but incidents like these remind us we must have these conversations,” she said. “The trick is not to let it slide until the next incident.”
Anyone who spots a wolf in the community is urged to immediately report their sighting to the B.C. Conservation Officer Service at 1-877-952-7277.
The Westerly News has reached out to the Conservation Officer Service and will update this story as soon as new information is available.
READ MORE: Wolf killed in Ucluelet