The lesson from multiple incidents recent weeks is clear: keep your dog leashed outside of designated areas and be sure to work on training. From provoking bears and coyotes into tragically lethal confrontations and even killing other dogs, the common thread is dogs either off-leash or not under the control of their human compatriots.
In Bella Coola, BC, a landowner was attempting to scare a grizzly bear from his land (property, livestock, and pets were not at risk) with a shotgun and his dog. Ultimately the bear charged – but only after shots were fired and the dog showed signs of aggressive behaviour. One expert say he believes that it was the dog who triggered the response from the bear – and it was entirely preventable, had the owner and dog waited inside for the bear to leave.
Stephen Herrero, a retired University of Calgary professor, told the CBC that in his review of 92 bear attacks he analyzed between 2010 and 2014, more than half involved dogs and many were caused by dogs.
"Most dogs, when they are around bears, aren't exactly under control," he told CBC. "If they are not on a leash it takes a really well-trained dog to keep if from going after a bear."
In another incident less than a week later, a man “running his dogs” and carrying a rifle was “attacked” by a grizzly near Cranbrook, BC. Little information is available in the article, but it states the man was running his dogs on a fire service road and shot the bear after he was “attacked”. Conservation officers found the bear a short time later, and it charged them – not surprising, after being shot by a human earlier that day. Unfortunately, a conservation officer was injured, and the bear killed.
In late October in the Hamilton, Ontario area, a mixed-breed dog was allegedly killed by coyotes – after he chased them. According to media reports (which have some inconsistencies with early social media posts), the dog was either off leash, or easily broke free of his owners’ grasp and ran into the bush. The owner then heard “two coyotes” drag the dog away – an explanation of this was not explored or provided. He then stated a “pack of around five coyotes descended upon [his dog] but dispersed when he approached” but again this was not explained (where were they, how did he find them, etc.).
A study found that in 92.3% of reported dog-coyote interactions in Canada, dogs were off-leash.
And last week a woman in Port Colborne, Ontario watched one of her two small dogs die when three off-leash dogs attacked them near an off-leash park. An investigation into the owner of the larger dogs is ongoing.
We at The Fur-Bearers love dogs and all pets – every single member of our team shares their home with at least one furry companion. However, the evidence is clear that off-leash dogs are often the cause of conflict with wildlife and other dogs. Particularly with wildlife, dogs can be seen as a predator, or at the very least, a threat. This isn’t to say dogs can or should never be off-leash, but please be aware of the risks, know local wildlife, respect signage and local laws, and work with your dog to develop a strong recall and have good social skills.
We want everyone to be safe in nature – including wildlife and our furry family members.
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