Changes to Banff wolf pack behaviour must be investigated

The worrisome trend of alleged behaviour changes to Banff National Park wolf packs is continuing, following reports of wolves chasing a ski hill employee.

The Calgary Herald reported that the employee was approached by the three remaining members of the Bow Valley wolf pack on Wednesday last week. After he became concerned by their proximity, he hopped on a snowmobile and fled the area, but the wolves allegedly gave chase.

“It could have been curious behaviour, it could have just been an instinctual response to follow something that was moving away, or it could have been more aggressive than that — we don’t know,” the Herald was told by Bill Hunt, resource conservation manager with Banff National Park.

The Bow Valley wolf pack has lost several members this year following incidents of conflict in the park that led to the killing of individual wolves. In all cases it appears that it was human behaviour – providing resources or not acting appropriately around the wolves – that led to the changes in the canids habits.

While Hunt told the Herald that his team didn’t find any obvious signs of feeding near where the employee encountered the wolves, it certainly doesn’t mean that people haven’t been providing resources to the wolves.

It is imperative that Parks Canada provide the funding and resources to Banff National Park to fully investigate this incident, as well as any others that come up, to determine exactly what is causing these changes in behaviour. It’s also vital that people who work or visit the park are provided information on not only how to respond to encountering wildlife, but then how to accurately report their encounters to authorities.

Because if the cause of alleged changes in behaviour aren’t identified, they can’t be resolved. And the ultimate government response to wildlife that isn’t acting how they want it to is death. Compassion, education, and investigation must be regular tools used by Parks Canada – for the animals today, and for all of us into the future.

Note: the photo in this blog is not of Banff National Park wolves


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