In March, Parks Canada tried to collar six wolves from the Bow Valley, Red Deer and Fairholme packs with high-tech GPS collars to get information for four different research projects. “Due to poor snow tracking conditions, the mission was unsuccessful,” spokeswoman Tania Peters said in an emailed statement Monday.
None of the wildlife experts were immediately available for further comment, but the statement said the plan could resume next winter. “The need to collar wolves for monitoring and management purposes is not bound by time constraints and data collected in future years will be just as valuable as data we hoped to collect in 2015,” said the email. “Over time, this work will help us to better understand how wolves use the landscape, so we can continue to make informed management decisions that will benefit the overall ecosystem of Banff National Park.”
There are at least three wolf packs in Banff National Park — including the well-known Bow Valley pack, which spends a lot of time along the Bow Valley parkway.
Faith and Spirit, the breeding pair with the pack, haven’t been seen since last summer.
There were reports of one or two wolves being hit on the Trans-Canada Highway last summer, but officials have said the description of the animals did not match that of Faith and Spirit.
There’s another pack of at least nine wolves that was detected last year on remote cameras near Brewster Creek and around Spray Lakes, as well as the Fairholme pack that travels between Banff and Canmore.
The research on the packs would have looked at how much time wolves are spending in caribou range, how wolves are using the Bow Valley Parkway during a spring closure, how they use wildlife corridors and how they prey on mountain goats.
Despite the collaring not going ahead, officials said there is still active monitoring of the wolves along the Bow Valley Parkway with remote wildlife cameras and other methods. “Continued research will help Parks Canada determine how wolves are benefiting from the annual mandatory Bow Valley Parkway seasonal travel restriction and how this management action is helping wolves move freely through this important habitat at this critical time to forage for food before weaning young pups,” said Peters in the statement. “The wolf monitoring will also help us better understand how wolves use important habitat (wildlife corridors) to help inform wildlife management practices in Banff National Park.”
If you see a wolf in the park, officials ask that you do not approach it, never feed or bait it and keep your pets on a leash.