Conservation forced to put down Rat Lake wolf

A wolf sighted by a number of hikers and dog walkers in the Rat Lake area in Mill Bay in mid-March has been euthanized by Conservation officers.

“I’m not happy having to kill wildlife,” said Sgt. Scott Norris of the Conservation Officer Service. “It’s an unfortunate part of our job, but we have to take public safety as number one.”

The animal was trapped and humanely destroyed on Monday, March 31.

Norris said killing the wolf was the only option as it had become habituated to humans.

Local residents had reported encountering the wolf when walking in the area, and Norris said it was demonstrating behaviour not consistent with a wild animal.

“Wolves don’t typically follow people 20 minutes down a trail,” he noted.

Wolves will usually avoid contact with humans altogether.

“A typical wild animal runs off in the bush,” said Norris.

This one, however, was following people as close as 20 yards behind, said Norris, especially people with dogs.

This indicated a certain territorial aspect to the behaviour, he said, that could lead to a dangerous situation as the wolf looked to assert its dominance.

One particular incident was troubling. One night a woman came out onto the main Haul Road with her dog when the wolf approached.

She waited a bit, and the wolf began to leave. It then turned back and ran at her, veering off at the last minute.

“We had to start weighing all the alternatives,” Norris said. At that point, “it’s only a matter of time before something goes sideways.”

In cases where wolves have become habituated they cannot be relocated, the Ministry explained.

The provincial veterinarian was involved in making the decision to put the wolf down and in doing a necropsy.