Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Yukon conservation officers kill 4 wolves in Whitehorse over past 2 weeks

Officers say they're worried about wolves moving into residential neighbourhoods 
 
CBC News  
Jan 04, 2016 
 
Signs have been posted in Whitehorse neighbourhoods alerting people to the presence of wolves. Signs have been posted in Whitehorse neighbourhoods alerting people to the presence of wolves. (CBC)

Yukon wildlife officials have killed four wolves since December 23 in Whitehorse residential neighbourhoods that they say have been exhibiting unusual behaviours.
"As most of us that live in the Yukon know, wolves are not seen frequently, and they certainly aren't seen frequently roaming down residential streets," says Kris Gustafson, with Yukon Conservation Officer Services. "And that's the scenario we've been dealing with over the past weekend.

"Wolves are actually in residential areas — literally on people's lawns — and that is not typical behaviour for wolves, so we made a difficult decision that we had to do something to deal with the level of habituation that we were seeing," he says.

Gustafson says there are probably at least two more wolves hanging around. He says trail cameras have been set up to monitor them.

As for why the wolves are entering Whitehorse's residential neighbourhoods, Gustafson says that's unclear, but that multiple factors may be contributing, including a lack of snow making it easier for large game to move quickly and avoid being hunted by wolves.

Kris Gustafson
Conservation officer Kris Gustafson says the behaviour of the wolves had become too risky to tolerate. (CBC)

"There's also food sources right in the city limits," Gustafson said. "There's quite a few deer for example right in the city limits, there's also coyotes and foxes and other prey species for them. And it's not impossible that they get into other unnatural food sources."

'We're not happy about it'

"We're not happy about it [killing the wolves]," said Gustafson. "We recognize other people of course won't be happy with it either. We completely understand that.

"Our position is that we have to have some sort of risk management process, and unfortunately in this case we felt the risks were not tolerable any more," he said.

Signs have been posted in neighbourhoods warning people to monitor their pets and keep their dogs on a leash. Conservation officers also want people to be mindful of leaving anything outside, such as garbage, that might attract wolves.

It's having an impact on some people who have become wary of walking their dogs in the wooded areas.

"I've been avoiding the green space a little bit, just with the newborn and only one dog because we do normally walk our dog at night," says Porter Creek neighbourhood resident Kaitlin Halickman.

Corrections

  • An earlier version of this story said Yukon wildlife officials shot the four wolves. Conservation officers say the animals were actually killed using "humane quick-kill snares."
    Jan 06, 2016