Conservation officers are unable to substantiate recent reports of a wolf attacking a dog near Ladysmith.
That doesn’t mean it can’t happen, or that people can’t take steps to reduce the risk.
Secondhand verbal and Facebook reports of a wolf or wolves attacking a dog near Forrest Field swept the community last week. Stacked with media reports of three similar attacks last month near Tofino that left one canine dead, the reports created concern.
But contacted by the Chronicle Tuesday, conservation officer Stuart Bates said his office had received no recent report of any wolf encounters near Ladysmith. His check with the Ladysmith Sportsmen’s Club revealed the same. So, until the reports can be substantiated, they are being treated by officials as rumours only.
That said, there are wolves near Ladysmith, and always have been. They are seldom seen and usually very shy around humans. Dogs, however, are a different story.
Bates would not be surprised to hear about a confirmed local attack on a dog.
“It’s possible because wolves use the power line route,” he said. “Wolves will not tolerate dogs and they will not tolerate dogs on their territory. They are four-legged and furry and a natural prey item.”
According to Bates, the many local dog owners who see the wilderness as an opportunity to let their pet run loose are also creating an unintended consequence for their pet.
“You are entering your dog back into the food chain,” he said.
Not only does your dog become a target for predators, it can also draw those same predators back to its human companions, putting people at risk as well. That situation applies to cougars and bears just as much as it does wolves.
Dogs running loose can also pose a threat to deer. In addition to injuring or killing the deer outright, they have also caused pregnant does to abort through stress.
Bates said wolves generally are found near their prey, predominantly deer and elk. Given the snowpack level, he said he would expect to currently find them higher in the mountains, farther from town.
Anyone encountering a wolf in or near town should contact the B.C. Conservation Officer Service at 1-877-952-7277.