UCLUELET — At least three dogs have been attacked by wolves in the area around Pacific Rim National Park in the past week.
The park issued a wolf advisory on Thursday after two wolves attacked two off-leash dogs on Wickaninnish Beach Wednesday morning. One of the dogs was killed while the other is still recovering from injuries.
The incident occurred just days after a wolf attacked a dog in residential Ucluelet.
Wolf advisories have been posted throughout the park and local accommodation providers have received information to distribute to their guests, said Todd Windle, the park’s human wildlife conflict specialist.
“I don’t think there’s an elevated risk to people at this time, but there is an elevated risk to pets off leash,” Windle said.
Wolf attacks within the park are “definitely uncommon,” but the West Coast region sees an average of about five dogs killed by predators each year, he said.
“As far as wolves go, we’re not aware of any … [incidents] where the pets are on a leash, so … the No. 1 thing you can do to keep your pet safe is to keep it on a leash,” he said.
Concern is running high among park officials, who have seen an increase in wolf sightings in recent weeks, and Windle suggested it is not so much the number of sightings, but the nature of the behaviour being reported that is of concern. Some sightings suggest wolves are showing bold, habituated, behaviour and have lost their natural fear of humans.
“Normally, wolves are fairly secretive and they actually go out of their way, for the most part, to be away from people,” Windle said. “Maybe they’re losing a bit of that fear, that natural wariness of people, and that’s what we really want to keep in them because that’s what keeps them safe.”
On Saturday, Ucluelet Coun. Sally Mole’s six-year-old Chocolate Lab, Mader, was attacked outside her home late at night.
“She came back in, in about 10 minutes, and she was all wet and limping so we looked her over and she’d obviously been in some kind of fight,” Mole said.
“Then our neighbour called from across the road and said, ‘We just broke up a fight between a wolf and your dog.’ ”
Mole said Mader suffered several puncture wounds, but was up and walking around on Monday. She immediately reported the incident to the B.C. Conservation Officer Service.
“They did say it’s pretty typical wolf activity, it’s not a red flag, and I agree with that,” she said. “It’s what a wolf would do — they see a dog out at large at night and that looks like food, so they’re on it.”