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Encounters with wolves on the rise

Aggressive wolves in the Merritt area approached a forestry worker earlier this month.
Image Credit: Wikipedia Commons
November 02, 2013 - 10:03 AM

ARE THE PREDATORS A GROWING CONCERN?

THOMPSON-OKANAGAN – The debate over whether or not there should be more action taken to reduce the risk wolves pose to livestock, pets and humans continues.

Reports of wolf encounters are up nearly 20 per cent this year in B.C.

Brent Stevenson, an Armstrong hunter, says he has heard about quite a few wolf encounters recently. He actually came across a bunch of wolves attacking cattle in the alpine area north of Cherryville last year. Stevenson adds he's happy he hasn't had the kinds of encounters with wolves that many other hunters are having.

“There seem to be lots of issues out there with cattle, farmers and ranchers.... It definitely sounds like there's a bit of an issue that needs to be addressed through provincial conservation or whatever need be,” Stevenson says. “It sounds like there's a flourishing wolf population in the province.”

Stevenson believes the deforestation from pine beetle kill could be partially to blame, as do many of the other hunters and ranchers on HuntingBC.ca who are talking about an influx of wolves and how to deal with the predators. One rancher in the Cariboo Chilcotin region recounts the large number of cattle he has lost in recent weeks because of a wolf pack. Other members have weighed in on the recent incident in Merritt that saw a forestry worker escape after being surrounded by wolves. One of the dogs with the worker was fatally wounded in the encounter.

A tale of two hunters in the Pemberton area that had a close encounter with a pack of wolves ealier this month has also garnered a lot of attention on the web site. One member also talks about coming across a wolf in the Jamieson Creek area north of Kamloops earlier this month and another member says they saw two wolves in Lac du Bois.

There have been 271 wolf reports across the entire province between April and October of this year, up from 229 in 2012. Most of these sightings are in the backcountry according to the provincial coordinator for Wildsafe B.C. Frank Ritcey. The sightings aren't usually in urban centres.

Ritcey says of the 25,000 calls they get every year, possible wolf encounters account for around 300 of those calls. Of those roughly 300 calls, not all are confirmed wolf sightings. He says it can be hard to verify what a person saw 50 metres away while they were driving by. Some people get coyotes and wolves mixed up, which can throw the numbers off.

Ritcey admits he has also heard about a lot more 'anecdotal' wolf sightings recently. He notes the statistics don't necessarily reflect those.

A 2012 Provincial Wolf Management Plan says wolf numbers have steadily increased in the province. The population has gone from 6,300 in 1979 to 8,500 in 2012. It is believed this increase is better attributed to 'changes in precision and method of estimation, rather than a trend in the provincial wolf population' and does not reflect a need for a wolf cull in the province.

To contact a reporter for this story, email jstahn@infotelnews.ca, call 250-819-3723 or tweet @JennStahn.

This story was last updated at 9:55 p.m., Nov. 2, 2013 to correct minor details.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013
InfoTel News Ltd

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