Caution with Pets and Children - Banff area
A well-known pack of wolves in Banff National Park was spotted by hikers on Tunnel Mountain, followed a person walking a dog along the Bow River and loped alongside a cyclist on the Bow Valley Parkway.
The incidents, which have occurred in the past few weeks, have prompted a warning from wildlife officials.
“There was certainly no contact, there was no aggression on the part of the wolves,” said Steve Michel, human/wildlife conflict specialist with Banff National Park, “but all of these are incidents that concern us.”
The encounters come after several high-profile scenes involving the same wolf pack that has been spending time around the Banff townsite since last summer — including a dramatic takedown of an elk on the railway overpass near Banff.
Michel said it’s not an issue when the wolves hunt prey such as elk or deer, because they are acting naturally.
They did, however, start to get concerned in January when the wolves were observed eating garbagein the Johnston Canyon parking lot — and he said the incidents in the past month have only increased concerns about the pack’s habituation.
“We’ve had wolves sighted on the Tunnel Mountain trail in the middle of the day,” said Michel. “We’ve had a wolf following a person with a dog along the Bow River, we’ve had wolves come in close proximity to people in areas along the golf course.
“We had a wolf approach a cyclist on the weekend who was having a break along the Bow Valley Parkway and then when she got nervous and pedalled away, that wolf and a couple other wolves loped behind her for a short distance.”
Some of the workers involved with the AltaLink power line replacement have also been approached by the wolf pack.
Michel said the incidents provide a timely reminder to people to brush up on how to be safe around wildlife in the national park as bears continue to emerge from their dens.
“In addition to it being bear season again and people needing to brush up on all of their bear safety, safety for other wildlife — and, in this case, other carnivores — should be practiced 12 months of the year,” he said, noting it’s important to let them know you aren’t prey by appearing large, standing tall, waving arms and shouting.
Bear spray can also be used if a wolf shows any aggression.
“Wolf attacks on humans are very rare,” said Michel. “Wolf attacks on dogs are not rare — they are somewhat common — so people need to be really cautious of their pets and keep a close eye on small children that might be perceived as prey.”