Parks Canada issues wolf warning in Banff
An unusual wildlife warning has been issued by officials with Parks Canada after a pack of wolves were involved in a dangerous incident with some campers at Banff’s Tunnel Mountain campground this week.
On Tuesday, a pair of wolves approached a group of campers on their site, forcing them to flee to the safety of their vehicle as the animals helped themselves to food stored in a cooler.
The wolves were reportedly undeterred by the campers’ attempts to scare them away, which included throwing rocks, shouting and honking the horn.
The pair of wolves involved in that incident is part of a pack of five that Parks Canada officials have called the Bow Valley Pack.
Workers have been tracking the animals for the past three years and say the wolves are becoming increasingly aggressive in recent months.
In 2016 alone, there have been 13 reported incident of the pack acting more aggressively, but the recent campsite attack has been the boldest.
Officials say the concern now is human safety and they are considering all possibilities to deal with the situation.
"That's definitely a key concern. It's a very real possibility. So, when we handle these animals we're going to have to assess each one," said Bill Hunt, Resource Conservation Manager, Parks Canada. "We do have some photos of the wolf that was so bold in the campground encounter. At that time we are going to have to make the difficult decision whether we can collar and release that animal or we are going to have to destroy that animal."
Two of the wolves in the Bow Valley Pack are collared, but the two that stole food on Tuesday weren’t.
Parks Canada says it will work to have the remaining wolves collared so they can attempt a technique called ‘adverse conditioning’, to deter their bold behaviour.
The wolf warning includes the Bow Valley area, along with camp sites and day use areas.
In the meantime, officials remind campers to never feed any wildlife and make sure all food and garbage is properly stored and disposed of.
“We’re reminding campers and visitors, please keep all your food and garbage secure. If you’re camping in one of the campsites, have your supper and then pack everything up, put it back in the vehicle, don’t leave stuff in your tent, don’t leave a garbage bag sitting out on a picnic table, put your dog dishes away. If you’re feeding your pets, make sure that the dogs eats and then put that right away. Wolves will come in, they will seek out anything that smells interesting or can offer them that food reward,” said Hunt.
If you do come in contact with a wolf, make a lot of noise, huddle together if you are in a group and report the incident to authorities.
Parks Canada says bear spray will also work on wolves.