A Ucluelet man managed to walk away unharmed from a short, but terrifying encounter with a wolf in Pacific Rim National Park Reserve on Vancouver Island last week.
The man was jogging on Wickaninnish Beach between Tofino and Ucluelet with his two large dogs last Tuesday afternoon, when he was approached by a large, mature wolf.
Parks Canada says because both of his dogs were leashed, the wolf was unable to get near them, and the man was able to fend off the wolf by throwing rocks and yelling at it during the 15-minute encounter.
Neither the man nor his dogs were harmed.
Human-wildlife conflict specialist with Parks Canada, Todd Windle, says the man’s actions likely saved his two dogs and prevented a wolf from learning that dogs are attractive prey.
“It’s a great example of someone doing a lot of really good things, particularly in the beginning to prevent the encounter – like having his dogs on the leash,” said Windle. “He also did a great job of asserting himself and having an aggressive, commanding posture toward the animal as well as using his voice to be loud.”
Windle says there were two more encounters, likely involving the same wolf, on Tuesday.
In all three incidents, park visitors had their dogs with them. No one was hurt.
“There was no aggression shown toward the people,” said Windle. “In each one of those incidents, the wolf was focused and interested in the dog, not the people. The leash was the key commonality between all the incidents.”
He says seeing the wolves in Pacific Rim National Park Reserve is not uncommon.
“But it certainly is more unusual for them to want to be out in the open and approach people like that,” said Windle.
Because of the recent encounters, Parks Canada has now issued a wolf advisory in the Long Beach area of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, and is actively monitoring the situation. It’s not clear how long the advisory will be in place.
Windle says the incidents are also a good reminder that wolves see dogs as prey and leashed dogs are at far lower risk for an attack.
Windle adds they encourage park visitors to call for assistance and report any similar encounters to Parks Canada in the future. They also recommend people carry an air horn or bear spray with them to scare away potentially threatening wildlife.
But he stresses there is no concern for public safety at this point.