Parks Canada staff have had a difficult July in Banff. They’ve had to euthanized two wolves in under a week.
A young, emaciated male wolf was bold enough to enter a building at Sunshine Village, and was approaching people and cars in what appears to be an attempt to get food.
Conservation officers had been aware of the wolf for weeks and were finally able to tranquilize and capture the animal on July 6.
Bill Hunt, Parks Canada’s resource conservation manager in Banff, said an older female that had been spotted numerous times in residential neighbourhoods of Banff, Canmore and Harvie Heights was captured the next day.
“We did an examination of that animal and we found out that it was an older female wolf, she had had pups at some time but she wasn’t lactating so she didn’t have pups this year,” Hunt told CBC.
“She had injuries indicative of fighting with other wolves and her teeth were in very poor shape, All four canines were badly worn, so it appears that she was an older animal that was either kicked out of her pack or had her position usurped by a younger female, and was on her own and was unable to take down prey or hunt for herself.”
Hunt said euthanizing the animals is a decision that isn’t taken lightly — a team of experts help to make the final call.
“It’s a very difficult decision. Most of the analysis is focused on the behaviour that we have seen to date,” Hunt said.
“So, is the animal a candidate where we could rehabilitate it and get it back into the wild so it can forage for itself? Or is it a situation where, even if we could get the animal in a little healthier shape, it’s still not going to be accepted in a pack and it’s not going to be able to survive on its own?”
The young male was too used to the human connection to food to fend for itself in the wild, Hunt said, and the older female would not be able to hunt because of poor health and bad teeth. That means both would pose a continued risk to both people and pets.
Sarah Elmeligi is a conservationist with the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society. She said everyone using the parks has a responsibility to keep wildlife wild.
“The death of these two wolves just reinforces the need for us to take responsibility as recreationists, to manage our food and any other attractants,” Elmeligi said. “Keeping a clean camp and not feeding wildlife and not attracting them to us is essential.”
Parks Canada said that despite the two wolf deaths, the pack in Banff National Park is doing well, with five brand new pups born this spring.