A wolf has been euthanized in the Banff area after it was seen appearing unafraid to approach humans in search of food.
Parks Canada said the young, emaciated, male wolf was first spotted three weeks ago on Sunshine Road. Officials added that the wolf was seen again on July 6, entering a storage building and approaching people.
“Subsequent investigations suggested the animal had been in the area during the previous week, seeking human food and any available garbage,” public relations and communications officer with Parks Canada Justin Brisbane said in a statement to Global News Thursday.
Officials said the wolf was captured and collared to assess its body condition and monitor its behaviour in the wild.
“Unfortunately, due to the wolf’s excessive level of habituation and human food conditioning, on July 7, Parks Canada wildlife officials determined the wolf was not a good candidate for rehabilitation and therefore humanely euthanized the wolf to ensure public safety,” the statement said.
“This was a very difficult decision for Parks Canada team members, who work hard to protect these animals and the ecosystems they live in.”
Officials noted this wasn’t the only wolf sighting in the area, adding that three separate incidents have also spurred the agency to issue a warning for the Town of Banff.
On July 5, officials responded to a report of a wolf on the Trans-Canada Highway east of Banff, and on July 6, the same wolf was spotted on Banff Avenue.
Parks Canada said the wolf was seen “displaying bold behaviour” and approaching vehicles with dogs inside while “seeking human food rewards.”
In response to the sightings, Parks Canada issued a warning for the Town of Banff and its surrounding areas, including Tunnel Mountain, the Fairmont Banff Springs golf course, Minnewanka Loop, Cascade Ponds and Johnson Lake Reservoir.
On July 5, officials said they responded to another report of a wolf at the Egypt Lake backcountry campground, entering tents and looking for food.
“A wolf entered two tents, removed an empty backpack from one tent, and may have obtained unsecured food or garbage from another campsite,” the statement said.
As a result of the sighting, on Wednesday, Parks Canada closed several campgrounds in the area.
Pharaoh Creek, Healy Creek and Egypt Lake campgrounds will remain closed until July 18. Officials also warn a hefty fine of up to $25,000 could be issued should the closure be ignored.
Due to wolf activity, officials also noted that caution is needed when travelling in the following areas: Healy lower parking at Sunshine Slabs to the Sunshine Ski area, Sunshine Ski area to Red Earth Trailhead via Shadow Lake and Pharaoh Creek, and Borgeau Trailhead to Healy Meadows.
Officials noted all wolf sightings and activity in the area is being monitored on a constant basis.
To help avoid negative interactions, the public is asked to keep all food and garbage indoors or inside a vehicle, to never feed wildlife and to ensure all children and pets are supervised at all times.
If approached by a wolf, officials say people should act aggressively and know how to use bear spray.
Officials said that while Banff is a natural habitat for these animals, humans must help manage interactions to keep both themselves and wildlife in the area safe.
“Wolves, like many animals in Banff National Park, have learned how to exist in proximity of humans but the key to their survival is in our hands,” the statement read.
“This is why it’s important for residents and visitors to remember that they share the surrounding habitat with wildlife and take the necessary steps to keep themselves and wildlife safe.
Any wolf sightings in the Banff region should be reported immediately to Banff Dispatch at 403-762-1470.
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