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Officers prepared to kill wolf
Lone animal believed responsible for attacks on neighbourhood dogs

Laura Busch
Northern News Services
Published Saturday, January 4, 2014

SOMBA K'E/YELLOWKNIFE
Yellowknifers are being cautioned to keep their small children and pets close until it can be determined whether a lone wolf, which is believed to have killed one dog and attacked another Wednesday night and early Thursday morning, has left the area or not.

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A lone wolf, such as the one picture above, is believed to be responsible for two dog attacks that occurred late Wednesday night, early Thursday morning. Residents are advised to keep their dogs leashed and to avoid leaving pets or small children unattended outdoors until it can be determined whether the wolf has moved on or is staying near Yellowknife. - photo courtesy of Alan O'Reilly

"If we're able to locate it now, that means it's continuing to hang around and we'll have to kill it," said Ian Ellsworth, renewable resources officer with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. "It's becoming a public safety issue, here. Right now, it's after dogs, but who knows what's next and we can't take that chance."

At about 2:20 a.m. on Thursday, Ellsworth received a call on ENR's emergency line, alerting him that a dog had been attacked by a wolf near a residence on Magrum Crescent.

"(The owner) heard the dog squealing and he went out and saw the wolf actually on his dog," said Ellsworth. "So, he ran out of the house and was able to scare the wolf away."

By the time Ellsworth arrived, the wolf was gone and heavy snowfall overnight made the animal impossible to track.

Later that morning, another Yellowknife resident called the office to report that her dog had been killed by a wolf around midnight near her home on Finlayson Drive.

Yellowknife veterinarian Dr. Tom Pisz performed the cremation on the 12-year-old lab-husky cross and said it died of a punctured aorta.

Although the owner did not see the animal that killed her dog, Pisz believed it must have been a wolf because of the strength required to take down the 80-pound dog.

Ellsworth agreed, saying it is believed both incidents involved a single male wolf.

Pet owners beware

Both animal experts recommended residents keep their dogs leashed while walking for the time being and to avoid leaving their animals unattended outside.

Wolves are afraid of humans and are very unlikely to attack a dog on a leash, said Pisz.

Although Ellsworth said it is uncommon for wolves to venture close to homes and attack pets, they are common to the area.

"We're right on the edge of the wilderness, basically," he said. "And animals use this habitat. It's nothing strange and it's nothing new."

"It's an unfortunate incident. I feel sorry for the owner ... (but) I don't want people to panic about the wolf," said Pisz. "There are wolves around more than we think, we just don't normally see them.

"In nature, they're very shy animals, so if it overcomes its shyness and starts coming to town, his days are numbered."

Ellsworth requested that any Yellowknife resident who sees a wolf call it in, as it will help officers determine if the animal is still near the city or if it was just passing through.

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