Offleash dogs are being cited as a key reason for an increase in troubling wolf behaviour within the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve.

Offleash dogs are being cited as a key reason for an increase in troubling wolf behaviour within the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve.

Behest of the West: Four-day dog ban too short to teach a lesson

The ban was lifted the day after the tourists left.

Before we talk about how we can’t be trusted and how our rebellious spirit has pushed past the point where supervision could do any good, let’s accentuate the positives.

We do a lot of things well.

We recently wrapped up our 31st annual grey whale celebration and we nailed it.

We fought through a monsoon to put on a spectacular parade, we educated the heck out of our visitors while helping them explore our unparallelled surroundings and we introduced their stomachs to the best offerings our competitive and spectacular chefs had to offer.

No one hosts like us, no one educates like us and no one feeds the heck out of their visitors like us.

We’re delightful and our delightfulness should have been what the outside world was looking at. It wasn’t. The rest of the Island was focused on the fact that one of our wolves attacked a dog at Wick.

The dog was on a leash and the wolf had no fear of approaching it and the human it was attached to. That’s not normal. That’s habituation.

No wolf is born bold enough to approach a human, only we can make them that way and we can only make them that way by not caring about them.

The habituation of our wildlife is an ongoing embarrassment that we’ve earned through years of unpenalized laziness.That laziness will continue until we start learning our lesson. History though, is not on our side. We’re painting a picture of this Coast that’s difficult to look at.

The attack should be an eye opener because it depicts a shocking escalation in behaviour.

The trouble is you have to read past the headline to find the moral and enough people won’t see beyond the buzzwords: ‘tourist’ and ‘leashed.’

A tourist’s leashed dog was attacked because locals have refused to leash their pets for years and that’s allowed wolves to identify dogs as food sources. Conservation officers have consistently and repeatedly told us where the path we were on was leading us to, but we’ve ignored them.

Every year, we read about wolves killing off-leash dogs and those stories haven’t seemed to make a dent in our belief that our dogs should run free. We’ve become so accustomed to ignoring the warnings, how can we be expected to pay attention to them now?

The subsequent four-day dog-ban was effective at keeping visiting dogs away during the Pacific Rim Whale Festival’s final busy weekend, but it did nothing to instill any kind of responsibility in locals.

The optics missed the mark.

The ban was lifted the day after the tourists left. It’s a clear talking point for any locals who want to blame outsiders for our wildlife’s habituation.

That ban should have been aimed squarely at us and it should have been made obvious why.

We’re not leashing our dogs in the Park and that’s piquing the interest of wolves. It’s also  helping tourists understand leash-laws are quirky sweet-nothings whispered into the wind that never take shape into anything meaningful.

It’s doubtful those laws have ever been taken seriously and, after all the strikes we’ve racked up, it’s time to drop the ban-hammer.

There should be no dogs allowed in the Park at all during the shorebird window between March-August.

I get that I’m throwing a curveball with the birds, but it’s a believable, solid reason to keep dogs away that tourists and locals would have a hard time arguing against. Off-leash dogs are disrupting shorebird migrations and threatening protected winged species. That’ll play, so let’s start there.

Signage, education, and foot patrol warnings have been as expensive as they’ve been useless. An extended dog-ban would give the Park a vehicle for telling locals they’re not trusted while hiding behind delicate shorebird populations to spare hurt feelings.

Locals need to understand they’re the problem and the only way to get there is through a ban that affects them more than tourists.

April’s a good month for that.