Wolf attacks on dogs in Tofino and Ucluelet prompt temporary closure of Long Beach
UPDATE: Parks Canada re-opened Wickaninnish Beach to the public on Friday at 12 p.m. The week-long dog ban is still in effect for all areas of the Long Beach Unit, including Wickaninnish Beach.
Parks Canada is initiating a one-week dog ban for all areas of Long Beach after two separate wolf attacks on dogs in Tofino and Ucluelet.
The first attack happened near Waya Point Resort in Ucluelet at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday when Isabel Flood was walking on the beach with her two sons and their dog, Chester.
Flood said her boys, ages nine and 12, were playing at the far end of the beach while she walked Chester, who was off-leash at the time, at the south end. That’s when she says she spotted what she thought was a large dog.
“A minute later, I saw this dog and my dog fighting,” Flood said. “And I was looking at it, and my dog was totally overwhelmed right away. It was biting my dog viciously and he was on the ground and yelping.”
It wasn’t until Flood got closer that she realized it was a wolf.
“When I realized it was a wolf and not a German shepherd, I was worried for my own safety. My boys were quite far away since they were at the other end of the beach… they couldn’t even see [what was happening]. ”
Initially Flood said she froze and then was horrified over what was happening.
“My dog was being dragged into the woods by a wolf.”
Flood started yelling at the wolf and backing away. It wasn’t until a couple came running up and started to yell and throw sticks at the wolf that Chester was able to escape. Flood immediately drove back to Nanaimo and took Chester to the vet, who stitched up a wound on his leg.
“He was really badly chewed,” she said.
The dog is now recovering.
In addition to the attack on Chester, on Thursday, a wolf attacked a dog on-leash at the Wickaninnish Beach in Tofino.
Pacific Rim National Park staff said in recent weeks several visitors have had encounters with wolves on Florencia Beach.
As a result of these attacks and the apparent loss of wariness to humans by at least one wolf, Parks Canada has temporarily closed a section of the Wickaninnish Beach from Kwisitis Visitor Centre to Combers Beach (March 23 and 24).
Parks staff have also put a one-week dog ban in place for all areas of Long Beach saying in their bulletin that no dogs are allowed in the area, trails or beaches.
“Parks Canada will continue to monitor the wolf and other wildlife activity in the park reserve and take further steps if necessary. A wolf advisory for the Long Beach Unit continues to be in place,” Parks Canada said in their advisory.
“The safety of our visitors and of the wildlife that call the park home is a priority for Parks Canada. Our goal is to avoid further habituation and food conditioning so wolves showing problem behaviour can relearn the natural boundaries between humans and wolves.”
To help re-establish the boundaries, park staff will be taking steps to “haze” the animals with noise and pain deterrents.
To help avoid wolf encounters, Parks Canada recommends people to walk in groups, make plenty of noise, keep dogs on-leash and small children should be kept close by.
What to do if you see a wolf
If visitors see a wolf, they should pick up small children, stand up tall and look large, and back away slowly, maintaining eye contact as they leave. If the animal continues to approach, visitors should yell, throw stones or sticks, and use pepper spray or an air horn if they have one. If the aggression escalates, visitors should fight back. At no time should they run.
Anyone who sees a wolf is asked to contact Parks Canada staff at 1-877-852-3100 or 250-726-3604 immediately.