Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Manitoba resort area takes precautions as wolves howl, prowl and attack




This undated file image provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service shows a grey wolf. (Anonymous/THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)


Wolf attacks on dogs in Manitoba’s beach country in recent weeks have prompted a decision to bring in a professional trapper to deal with the predators.

At least four dogs have been targeted by wolves in the Victoria Beach area on the east side of Lake Winnipeg and three of the pets have been killed.Victoria Beach police Chief Stewart MacPherson says wolf traps were to be set up Monday near one of the locations where a dog died.

Barry Verbiwski, Manitoba’s head of fur-bearer and human wildlife conflict management, says officials are trying to get a better estimate on the number of wolves in the area between Beaconia and Victoria Beach this past summer.Verbiwski says it appears the predators are trying to establish their dominance. Pet owners are being urged to keep their dogs and cats indoors, while area residents are being told to take precautions if walking or biking.
 
The most recent attack on a dog took place at about 4:30 a.m. Monday at Victoria Beach, when three wolves severely injured a German shepherd kept outside. MacPherson said the wolves attacked with such force they toppled the doghouse and broke its chain tether. “They really went after that dog,” he said, adding the wolves were each different in colour. One was grey, one black and the other white.
A second German shepherd was rescued when the dog’s owner intervened and chased away the wolves. Verbiwski said people should never walk alone and should carry a stout stick and even bear spray when outdoors. “If a wolf approaches you, definitely don’t run. You’re more likely to initiate an attack or chase. If a wolf does attack you, fight back aggressively. Use anything like keys or a pen. You are fighting for your life.”

Word of the wolf attacks has spread quickly in the area, aided in part by social media. “A lot of people are not walking alone a night,” one woman said at Saffies General Store at Albert Beach. “We have a large dog, and we’re keeping it inside.”
Verbiwski and MacPherson said what’s attracted the wolves to the east beaches is an abundance of white-tailed deer, which have increased in number in the past few years. They blame backyard feeding of deer for their increase.

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